Twitter served as a rallying cry at the Cheeky Monkey restaurant in Narragansett where a “Tweet-up” of Rhode Islanders was held to foster networking and choose the next addition to the appetizer menu. Users came from Westerly and Warren, Providence, Portsmouth and beyond to discuss social media and forge new relationships.
The Tweet-up hatched from several months of pro-bono social media work done by Caster Communications in support of the local restaurant. Only five minutes from our office, the Cheeky Monkey is a favorite dining spot because of the menu and atmosphere but also because the husband and wife ownership team (who were friends of Caster before this started) epitomize the challenges that small, independent businesses owners face. Using basic tools like a Facebook fan page, enewsletter and twitter account, the Cheeky Monkey uses social media in a variety of ways, including to:
- Announce menu specials
- Encourage fans to vote for the restaurant in local awards
- Solicit feedback on advertising or sponsorships
- Share recipes and culinary knowledge
- Offer exclusive “Twitter-only” specials
- Expand communications with other local small businesses
The backbone of the tweet-up were the three appetizers sampled and voted upon for inclusion on the restaurant’s menu. The three options were:
Whole-wheat thin crust pizza with crispy pancetta, portabella mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese and mozzarella topped with local baby arugala and drizzled with a balsamic glaze
Panko-crusted nori tuna roll
Shrimp wrapped in phyllo dough with an herb-filled stuffing drizzled with a garlic aioli
After every crumb was devoured, the first option came out victorious securing its place as the first pizza dish to adorn Cheeky Monkey’s menu.
While Cheeky Monkey acted as the host, the event was truly a gathering of elite Rhode Island Twitter users. In a state the size of Houston, TX, it’s easy to know a friend of a friend or figure out degrees of separation, especially when you’re conversing with Ocean Staters who are active in social media. Because it wasn’t a huge gathering, attendees had an opportunity to connect without feeling like small fish in a big sea. Here are some interesting tweetbits I found out about some attendees:
@savorthethyme – Organizing a local bloggers event and working to get support of some prominent organic food vendors, she’s helping lead the R.I. Mom/Foodie movement and has a cool USB Flip camera that recorded some of the Cheeky action
@lilrhody – Putting together a panel of social media experts to discuss the benefits to small businesses in her hometown of Warren, RI, would also love a Cheeky-like restaurant to emerge in the East Bay
@GreggPerry – A major PR player in the Ocean State, he hosted a stellar Tweet-up at the beginning of the summer and also enjoyed his first Narragansett Beer in many moons with me. Call me jealous, he also knows Gene Valacenti.
@AmyRoPhoto – Donated her time and energy as a photographer to support a local Preservation Society event, she also enjoys adult conversation after a day of cajoling children into smiling
@davidsaraiva - Offered fresh perspective on a client initiative I am dealing with. Also, if you’re a fan of Twitter management apps, remember the name Chatterbox
@JaneHCouto – Triathalete who goes for runs at 9p.m., deftly manages a slew of social media and still gets to bed at a decent hour
@JoeCascio – A sharp-witted content expert with a cheeky approach to social media, golf is often not far from his mind
I know I missed some folks so feel free to berate my absent-mindedness if you were ommitted. The first annual @CheekyRI Tweet-up was a rousing success and we look forward to doing it again in the Fall when the menu needs tweaking again. Thank you to all who came out.
A special thanks goes to Stephanie and Jeff Cruff the co-owners who also act as head server and executive chef. It’s impossible to be more hands-on with a business than they are with the Cheeky Monkey restaurant.
Posted by: Nick B.