Friday, February 26, 2010

The Donut Wars are Heating Up

A new franchisee has taken over the Krispy Kreme store on Savannah Highway with plans to expand.  Meanwhile, rival Dunkin' Donuts is already underway with their own plan to add 20 more stores in the region.

Charleston Regional Business Journal.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Twitter Me this

More and more local chefs and restaurateurs are on Twitter these days, which is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what's going on in local kitchens. Their tweets break roughly into two categories: feeds for the restaurant, which tend to announce specials and what not, and the chef's personal tweets, which I tend to find far more interesting.

Twitter is still in that early stage where people are working out what the heck the medium is good for.  I see that all the time at work (a software company), where I have clients who are insistent that they want to be doing 'Web 2.0 stuff, like Twitter," but they aren't quite sure what they should do with it.  The problem is that too many would-be-tweeters are focusing more on "what do I want to say" rather than "what would people want to hear from me?"

Restaurant and chefs tweets provide two good examples of where Tweeting is interesting and useful as well as a counterexample of where it can go bad.

I like restaurant tweets that are occasional and provide the rare piece of news that is out of the ordinary: a special guest chef dinner coming up, for example, or a particularly unusual daily special.  And by this I don't mean a tweet a day announcing "today's special: ribeye with veal demiglass."  Every restaurant has a special of the day.  I may not be in the majority here, but I'd much prefer a restaurant that tweets only once or twice a week with some really good stuff rather than every day with yet another special that blurs into the one offered the day before.

One of the most memorable meals I've had in recent memories started with a tweet, though.  I was out having beers with the food-writing gang from the City Paper and, just as we were discussing where to go get a bite to eat, a tweet came over from Mike Lata at FIG that fresh blue fin tuna was just in.  We paid the bar tab and  hopped over to Meeting Street and had some of the most incredible, melt-in-your-mouth fish I've ever tasted.  Definitely worth a tweet.

Chefs' personal twittering is something I've taken a liking to also.  As more and more local chefs gain national reputations, they're being invited to travel all over the place and cook special dinners, and I love keeping up with whose cooking where and, even more interesting, the kind of places they like to stop off and eat along the way, be it humble BBQ joints and the In-and-Out Burger or high-even places like WD-50 or the Slanted Door.  And, the non-food-related tweets are interesting too, since it helps add a little color to a chef's life--a few slightly-personal but not too personal details that help flesh out his or her personality.

So, that's my recipe for good restaurant/chef tweeting: good scoops and special information, but not too much  of it, and those little personal glimpses and details that help build more of a personal connection.

Interestingly enough, I personally like tweets that pass along the occasional tiny url link to an interesting food-related story on the web.  You don't want to do it.  If you send out a dozen of links a day and 90% of the stories aren't any good, that's a good route to getting "unfollowed."

So, I'll keep watching Twitter and looking to add more local chefs, writers, and other food-related tweeters to my list.  140 characters at a time.

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