Restaurant Briefing: Social Chefs and Restaurants
We asked some of the most social media-savvy speakers participating in the 2014 American Express Restaurant Trade Program at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen how they use social channels effectively.
Jonathan Waxman, Chef/Owner, Barbuto, New York, NY, has a personal Twitter account as well as one for Barbuto. While he does his own tweeting, Barbuto’s GM, Jennifer Davidson, manages all of the restaurant’s social media. “Because we’re a seasonal restaurant, we change dishes frequently and Jen takes lots of iPhone pictures of new dishes, new ingredients, the prep process, events, etc. – which she posts daily on Instagram.” He adds, “It’s crazy, but guests come in and open up the Barbuto Instagram account to determine what they’re going to eat for dinner”. . .Barbara Lynch, Chef/Owner, Barbara Lynch Gruppo, Boston, MA, says each of her eight restaurants has its own team, personality, and community, and handles its own social media. She advises, “Take the time to educate your teams so they really understand the purpose of social media and feel empowered to represent the restaurant’s brand. Plus, to have fun and be authentic”. . .“Up to now we’ve been randomly putting stuff up on Twitter and Facebook for our restaurants,” says Tom Colicchio, Founder, Craft Restaurants, hq New York, NY. “Because we want to use these channels more effectively, we’re creating a comprehensive plan about what we post, who posts, and when.” Tom uses his personal Twitter account for messages about politics and hunger issues, as well as retweeting his restaurants’ tweets. For personal tweets, he advises doing it oneself. “Don’t hire someone – it doesn’t come off right.”
“I know Twitter is effective when I post something about a new dish and it sells out that evening, or when people say they came in for dinner because they saw the dish on Twitter or Instagram,” says Sean Brock, Executive Chef/Partner Husk Restaurant and McCrady’s, Charleston, SC. He counsels, “Always proofread and spend a couple of minutes with a tweet before you send it. Like any form of media, once it’s out there it’s going to live forever”. . . Stephanie Izard, Chef/Owner, Girl & the Goat and Little Goat Diner, Chicago, IL, says she loves Twitter and likes using it to interact with guests when she’s working in her kitchens, talking about what she’s cooking and sending photos. “I’m trying to find a nice balance when sharing all of the fun things that happen during the day – at the restaurants, with my husband and dog – without overwhelming everyone”. . .Danny Meyer, CEO/Founder, Union Square Hospitality Group, hq New York, NY, says that while he likes Instagram, Twitter is the most natural medium for him because he loves words. “My personal Twitter account provides such a wonderful opportunity for me to say something concisely, and to see if it resonates with others.” Danny says he reads more than he writes on Twitter. “I love that I can curate my own ‘magazine’ – with writers across many topics that I want to know about.” He advises that when starting out on Twitter it’s important to read first. “Don’t feel the obligation to tweet. Next retweet things you find interesting. Soon enough you’ll get the rhythm, and find your voice.”