Social Media Brings Elite Tweeters and Menu Change to R.I. Restaurant

August 19, 2009

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.

Winners of two $25 gift certificates based on business card drop.

Winners of two $25 gift certificates based on business card drop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Nick B.

@PRnick

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Social Media is a Two-way Street for Restaurants

July 8, 2009

Full Disclosure – Caster started working with the Cheeky Monkey because it’s close by and our entire agency loves the food, ambiance and especially the owners.  The colorful restaurant is an independently owned eatery that relies on local food vendors when possible and treats every patron as if they are a WJAR, channel 10 TV celebrity (who also happens to be a regular).

Cheeky Monkey Logo - high res

Earlier this week, Examiner.com blogger and Rhode Island social media expert Cheryl Phillips wrote an article titled, Social media replaces traditional advertising for The Cheeky Monkey restaurant. In the piece she talked about the benefits of social media for small businesses (especially restaurants) from a cost and outreach perspective.

Phillips states, “An advertisement in a newspaper lasts only until it goes in the recycle bin. Radio is a great advertising medium but it’s costly and the target market has to be just right…Facebook? It’s free. Yes, it takes work to keep up the fan page but it’s interactive and customers like to feel involved. Twitter gives a more immediate message to the public and can also direct people to the Facebook site. The networking possibilities with social media are endless and it’s working in a big way for The Cheeky Monkey Restaurant.”

While everything Cheryl says is right on, the point I’d like to highlight is the two-way communication that exists with social media engines. Because this article has NOTHING to do with a wine dinner, new menu or other tangible restaurant event, one might question how much it can actually help the bottom line. This thinking is outdated and naive.

As a result of the article being spread virally, the Cheeky Monkey saw significant increases in newsletter requests, twitter followers and FB fans over the three-day span since it was posted.  While new Cheeky people may not immediately translate into more seafood paella or grilled Moroccan BBQ Atlantic salmon being sold, their choice to engage and be engaged is as valuable as any coupon or print ad.  The need to be interesting, topical and value-conscious is imperative for the restaurant but there is no better long-term strategy for growth than direct, back-and-forth communication with customers, especially loyal ones. And each new follower who’s never visited has the potential to become a loyal customer.

From a big picture perspective, as the Cheeky Monkey network expands, the restaurant will be able to offer more value to patrons and ultimately cater to their whims whether it is adding new dishes to the menu, giving away coupons/gift certifiates, hosting themed events or throwing a “Loyalty Party” for customers who follow the social media efforts (as they did last week).

No matter if you’re working for Comcast, Domino’s Pizza or the Cheeky Monkey restaurant, there is some form of social media that can benefit your business. However, unlike traditional media, social media is a two-way street and you can’t expect customers to blindly support without some kind of incentive, whether it’s informational or monetary. 

With that in mind, to keep growing your knowledge of new media, the Cheeky highly recommends you follow Cheryl Phillips on Twitter (@thedailyblonde) and read her social media blog (always looking for RI success stories).

For those looking to jump the Cheeky Monkey bandwagon, your support is welcome:

Twitter: @CheekyRI

Facebook: Cheeky Monkey Fan Page

Posted by: Nick Brown


Green Life Smart Life

October 9, 2008
Green Life | Smart Life is a custom home building project that will demonstrate that real life homeowners can make smart decisions which benefit their families by selecting eco-friendly, modern choices that reflect the needs of everyday living environments and personal lifestyles. Being built on the beautiful Rhode Island coast, the home in its final celebration will demonstrate real life applications in creating sustainable living and healthy environments in conjunction with custom electronics that embrace today’s smart home technology. With a unique set of building constraints, such as managing Coastal Resources, 130 MPH wind zones building codes, maximizing ocean views plus understanding the LEED process, the project will be a step-by-step showcase for builders, sub contractors, product manufacturers and technology companies as more and more families attempt to live green. If you are interested in learning more about the project and how you can participate, email me at klancaster [at] castercomm.com. The plans are done, the permits filed and the excavator broke ground today. The website will be live shortly, so check back with us!

Posted by: KDL