City Bites

RESTAURANT BUZZ: Twitter, Facebook, and a glimpse into dining in the iPhone age

When Josh Greenberg, a Professor of Communication Studies at Carleton, and his wife celebrated their wedding anniversary at Play Food & Wine, he placed a comment on the restaurant’s facebook page the next day. At 3:33 p.m. he wrote, “…cheese plate was delightful, the scallops best ever and I’d come back just for the chocolate pate. Terrific service — helpful and attentive. Thanks!”

At 4:39 p.m. the following comment appeared: “Really glad you enjoyed it Josh. Don’t worry, the chocolate pate will be around for a bit, in one form or another. Hope to see you before your next anniversary. —Grayson”

Grayson McDiarmid is Play’s sommelier and wine director. He is also the restaurant’s de facto social media guru in charge of its facebook page and twitter account. When Greenberg decided to return to Play a few weeks later with some colleagues, he tweeted his intentions en route. Meanwhile McDiarmid, who continuously monitors the restaurants tweets on his iPhone and various macbooks around the restaurant, recognized Greenberg from his facebook photo from their last exchange. McDiarmid approached Greenberg’s table, introduced himself and thanked him for the tweet.

“I thought it was clever,” says Greenberg, “It showed an interesting approach to customer engagement. It’s nice to see a business using twitter properly.” According to Greenberg, who studies social media in an academic context, Play is among a growing number of restaurants and food business around town that are using social media to reach out and connect with customers. But too often it’s just about broadcasting news and information, rather than interaction, he says. Social media is the modern version of word-of-mouth —but amplified many times over. As of this week, Play has 719 Twitter followers. That’s a lot more powerful from a marketing perspective than the way people used to share their experiences: gabbing around the water cooler.

McDiarmid posts funny pictures, new wines, and menu ideas — often giving sneak previews to its online followers. “It’s a fun connection with our guests. They feel special,” he says.

When Greenberg returned home after that second evening at Play, he found this note on his facebook page: “Great to meet you tonight Josh, glad you and the ladies enjoyed yourselves and we look forward to the next time!”

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