Restaurant Success Stories
Restaurants from around the world share their best practices and how they achieve success with Tripadvisor.
How East Village Pizza Used SinglePlatform by Tripadvisor to Go ViralWhen Frank Kabatas took over East Village Pizza in 2003, he had plenty of experience making great pizza, but he says he was just a beginner when it came to marketing his business.Just over 60 percent...
How This Café Trains the Best StaffTaking the time to train your employees and empower them can help your business in more ways than one. Here’s how Mississippi's Starfish Café trains the best staff.
Training the best staff — and creating a restaurant culture that empowers them to be the best — isn’t just good for your restaurant. It’s good for your bottom line. The average turnover for American restaurants in 2018 was as high as 75%. That’s real money you’re losing, too — according to a recent study from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, losing and replacing an hourly employee can set you back $5,864. With a 75% restaurant turnover rate, that means losing up to $428,072 annually!
Welcome to Starfish Café, Mississippi
Take a trip to the state of Mississippi and you may stumble upon Starfish Café — one of the not-so-hidden gastronomic gems of the south. But what makes this little eleven table café so amazing is not just the great food. It’s also a job training program that prepares people coming from tough situations with life and kitchen skills for a bright future in hospitality.
Owner Diana Fillhart started her experience in the restaurant industry at age fourteen and never left. When she opened Starfish Café, passing on her hard-earned knowledge to her students became a way to pursue her passion.
The Starfish Method
One of the most important things, she says, is developing an understanding of all areas of restaurant operations. Says Fillhart, “We cross train intentionally so that everybody has a respect and an understanding for both [front and back of house].” This teaches staff how the whole restaurant works together regardless of what task they're working on that day.
After that, Fillhart uses reviews to emphasize observing and proactive hospitality skills. Says Fillhart, “It’s a training opportunity for our staff to talk about looking at issues from the customer’s vantage point and seeing what we can do to respond to what the customer wrote. It helps us teach them that a roving eye will always save you and other good practices about being aware and responsive.”
Reviews are a great way to get customer feedback, which can be used to train and motivate your staff. There are many ways to encourage guests to leave a review, but one of the most effective is simply training your staff to ask them at the end of their meal. Teaching them to do this is also a great way to encourage them to engage and connect with their guests.
If you ask Fillhart, the key to her program is hands-on experience. “We use: See it. Do it. Teach it,” says Fillhart. “If they see how you want it done, and then they begin to do it, the next thing you want to do is give them the opportunity to teach it. Because if they can teach it, they know it, they own it, it’s theirs.”
If you are working on training the best staff, Fillhart recommends emphasizing for them to: “Always be proactive with a customer, because they just want to know that you see them and they’re valuable.” For owners, she recommends having processes in place for staff to be successful: “[That way], you know they will be able to be successful — so that you can be successful.”Last Updated: 16 August 2019
How Word-of-Mouth Brings This Restaurant More Traffic
Santorini by Georgios, located in Miami Beach, Florida, knows a thing or two about delighting guests. For owner Georgios Vogiatzis and manager Claudia Angurell, balancing costs while creating an unforgettable experience is all in a day’s work. See how they use Tripadvisor to market their business, manage their reputation, and keep a full house.
Welcome to Santorini by Georgios, Miami, FL
Nestled on a warm and sunny beach in Miami, Florida sits a little piece of the Greek islands. Serving up seafood and surf with traditional Greek flavors is a specialty of Santorini by Georgios that is coveted by locals and travelers alike.
For Santorini by Georgios, everything is about satisfying the customer. What Santorini has discovered is that customers tend to drive more traffic when their individual experience is made a priority....
How This Restaurant Created One of the Best Burgers in France Offering gourmet burgers with fresh, local ingredients, King Marcel grew from a small shop in Lyon to a chain poised to disrupt France’s quick bites scene.
Welcome to King Marcel, France
Few culinary challenges exist that the French cannot perfect. A burger is no exception. That’s just what CEO Chrisophe San Miguel of King Marcel Group set out to do. Starting as a humble burger shop in Lyon in 2013, King Marcel has now grown to multiple locations with more than 70 employees across the country.
But scale hasn’t slowed down the quality. King Marcel’s rue de Montmartre location in Paris has received over 850 reviews, averaging a 4.5 out of 5.0 rating, and received a Certificate of Excellence in 2017. Tripadvisor also named King Marcel the 4th best burger in France in 2018.
The Challenge: Driving Repeat Customers
With such impressive growth, it’s important to maintain consistently high quality. Says San Miguel, “Our aim is simple, but ambitious: to ensure the same quality of service and a perfect product from the first to the last customer, every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”
That’s no easy task. To make sure their product is always up to standard, employees at King Marcel carefully monitor their online reputation. It’s especially important as burgers have become more popular in France.
“Our objective is to remain a beloved and [popular] brand for all of our customers,” says San Miguel. “For this, we must constantly reinvent ourselves, to continue to bring them back.”
How They Use Tripadvisor
That’s where Tripadvisor comes in. To maintain consistency and drive repeat visitors, King Marcel uses reviews to listen to customer feedback, make changes, and offer an online touchpoint for their hospitality.Our objective is to remain a beloved and [popular] brand for all of our customers. For this, we must constantly reinvent ourselves, to continue to bring them back....
How This Spanish Wine Bar Attracts Both Travelers and Locals This Certificate of Excellence recipient is one of the best wine bars in Madrid. Here’s how they attract locals and tourists alike to their restaurant.
Welcome to Moratín Vinoteca Bistrot, Spain
Brought to life by brothers Marcos and Alejandro Gil in 2012, Moratín Vinoteca Bistrot is a charming, romantic spot perfect for a night out in Madrid’s Barrio de Las Letras. While they’re known for delicious seasonal and local cuisine, the star of the show is their wine program. Says Co-Owner Marcos Gil, “We try to offer a wide range divided both by region and by different grape varieties. Our goal is to personalize each person’s visit, to know their tastes and thus be able to get the wine just right.”
With more than 900 Tripadvisor reviews and an average bubble rating of 4.5 out of 5.0, Moratín Vinoteca Bistrot received their first Certificate of Excellence in 2016. It’s become so popular that getting a table isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.
The Challenge: Keeping Up The Momentum
In a bustling city like Madrid, it’s not easy to stand out in the crowd, even for a restaurant that’s busy and popular. As an experienced restaurateur, Marcos knows that popularity doesn’t always mean the restaurant is profitable. You need to “form a global vision on the realities and needs of the customers and for the business,” says Marcos. Most importantly, you need to know where your customers are coming from, both in geography and in marketing channel, to keep attracting more.
“Our clientele is divided between local regulars and travelers from other areas of Spain and abroad,” says Marcos. Marcos and his team use Tripadvisor to keep up their momentum and draw in as many new customers as they can, since Tripadvisor isn't just for travelers: 32% of all Tripadvisor restaurant traffic in Spain is from locals.
How They Use TripadvisorAlmost 75% of our visitors come thanks to platforms like Tripadvisor.
Their team remains completely focused on customer satisfaction, which is why reviews remain a key part of their business operations. The reviews help them continue to make changes that make the restaurant even better. “It helps us continue with our work,” says Marcos. “We share the reviews with our employees to reinforce both our strengths and what we need to improve.”
“Almost 75% of our visitors come thanks to platforms like Tripadvisor,” says Marcos. “They locate and select us because of the reviews and trust us when they see we have been granted the Certificate of Excellence.”...
How This Travelers' Choice Winner Increased Sales By 20%
Makars Gourmet Mash Bar, named the UK’s #1 everyday dining restaurant in the 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards, increased their sales by 20% by climbing the Tripadvisor rankings. Here’s how they focused on customer experience and feedback to get the most out of Tripadvisor.
Welcome to Makars Gourmet Mash Bar, Scotland
Over the last four years, John Stamp has built a thriving business at Makars Gourmet Mash Bar in Edinburgh, serving traditional Scottish fare like granny used to make. “After running a software company for 26 years, I began looking for a new challenge,” says Stamp. “I had never been in the hospitality industry before, but saw a beautiful restaurant for sale near Edinburgh’s famous Mound and decided to go for it — from there the first Makars Gourmet Mash Bar was born.”
It’s fair to say that he’s earned his stripes as a successful restaurateur. Stamp opened a second restaurant in the city’s west end in 2018 and in December 2018, Makars Gourmet Mash Bar was named the UK’s #1 everyday dining restaurant in the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards for Restaurants.
The Challenge: Rising From The Bottom
It wasn’t so easy at the beginning. “I really was a novice,” says Stamp. “The first two years were, looking back, poor. [But] bit by bit I built a strong team and product.” The restaurant started, literally, at the bottom: They were ranked #495 in the city.
Edinburgh is a vibrant city packed with new restaurants, making it a highly competitive market for any restaurateur. It’s tough to stand out from the crowd, especially near tourist attractions like Edinburgh’s famous Mound neighborhood.
That’s where Tripadvisor comes in. “Tripadvisor started to play a pivotal role in attracting guests,” says Stamp. “Our Tripadvisor page has been such an essential asset to help us stand out from the crowd, ensuring we are able to generate bookings all year round.”
How They Use Tripadvisor
To climb up the rankings, Stamp and his team started using Tripadvisor to their advantage. “We started making a conscious effort to engage with Tripadvisor, such as putting signs up around the restaurant and reminding customers to leave a review when paying their bill,” says Stamp.
Rising in the rankings meant really listening to all of their feedback from reviews. Says Stamp, “Tripadvisor is one of these tools that does not sugarcoat mistakes, average food, or poor service. Yes, negative reviews are incredibly hurtful, [but] it takes a long time to learn to take bad reviews in context and accept not all [of your restaurant ideas] work.”
Stamp committed to sitting down once a week and responding to the reviews he received, as well as incorporating the feedback into his daily operations. “The tools are there to respond fairly,” says Stamp, “we are an independent restaurant and our unique selling proposition is that we can look at feedback and change quickly.”
Investing the time in Tripadvisor paid off. “We signed up to Premium for Restaurants in late 2016 and have found the tools it offers extremely valuable,” says Stamp. In particular, they love using the Favorite Review feature, which allows restaurant owners to pin their favorite recent review at the top of their Reviews section. “[We use it] to highlight to potential customers a great experience had by an existing customer, [but also] as a way to make the reviewer feel special [with] a prime position on our page.”
How This Village Pub Became a Destination Restaurant The Fox at Peasemore, a local pub just outside the market town of Newbury, England, is constantly packed with customers. Here’s how they’ve been able to use their online reputation to grow their business.
Welcome to The Fox at Peasemore, United Kingdom
When Lauren Davison opened The Fox at Peasemore in 2013 with her husband Phillip, they had no idea it would soon become one of the best village pubs in Berkshire. Taking over at The Fox, they went through an extensive refurbishment, turning the space into a proper hangout for locals and tourists alike.
“We have a cozy log burner perfect for those winter evenings and outside seating overlooking stunning countryside for those summer afternoons and evenings,” says Davison.
The Challenge: Becoming Part of The Beaten Path
Newbury, England isn’t exactly on the beaten path for travelers. “While we have many loyal local customers, Tripadvisor has been really helpful,” says Davison. “We’re slightly out of the way, and quite hard to find unless you happen to be driving past, so our Tripadvisor page has been essential.”
How They Use Tripadvisor
Tripadvisor, for the Fox, is like an online billboard that makes their pub a destination. Says Davison, “When customers pick an area and look for places to eat, they find us because of our Tripadvisor listing.”
With Tripadvisor Premium, The Fox has made the most out of their online footprint once potential diners find their listing. They use Storyboard to show off the best of their cuisine and atmosphere and highlight key aspects of their dining experience with Top 3 Reasons to Eat Here.
And their diners are noticing. Says Davison, “Last week a lady came in for dinner, and as we gave her the bill, she mentioned our Certificate of Excellence. It’s nice when someone notices, as we’re really proud of it.”
Results“When we signed up to Premium for Restaurants, we had a lot more people coming to eat at The Fox as a result. It helped us get to a place where business is steady.”...
How This Restaurant Group Increased Booking Interest with Tripadvisor Bodean’s, a small chain of barbecue restaurants in London, uses Tripadvisor as a crucial part of their online footprint. Here’s how they use Tripadvisor to increase their bookings.
Welcome to Bodean’s BBQ, London
When you think of spare ribs, pulled pork, and chicken wings, you’re probably thinking of Texas, not London. But Bodean’s BBQ has found their niche for Britons craving a taste of the American South.
With seven locations around the city, there’s plenty of opportunity to stop in for a pint or two. Bodean’s lets you kick back, relax, and enjoy good food and good company in a lively atmosphere. The restaurant has thousands of reviews and averages 4 / 5 bubbles depending on the location.
The Challenge: Optimize Online Presence
With seven locations, it’s a real challenge to coordinate operations and keep everything consistent, especially when it comes to marketing. In a competitive market like London, Bodean’s makes it a priority to optimize every aspect of their online presence, from their mobile-friendly website to review sites like Tripadvisor.
Says Marketing Manager Chris Huston, “I took control of our Tripadvisor [listing] with the aim of optimizing our profiles to showcase our menu items and general atmosphere of branches.”
That’s easy to do with Tripadvisor Premium.
How They Use Tripadvisor
“[Tripadvisor Premium] has created a much more appealing profile,” says Huston.
The Bodean’s team started with Storyboard, which allows them to create an eye-catching first impression with dynamic on-page content. “A significant portion of our visitors now see our chosen images through Storyboard, which we update with timely promotional imagery, giving more awareness of our upcoming events and promotions,” says Huston.
Then, Huston customizes the Top 3 Reasons for each location to customize what makes that specific restaurant special. Says Huston, “[It’s] another useful way to highlight location-specific details as well as group features to attract our target demographic.”
The Results“I have found Tripadvisor to be a crucial part of our online footprint and the features available give us the ability to put our very best foot forward.”...
How This Top-Rated Restaurant Uses Tripadvisor to Build Their Business La Pergola, a family-run Italian spot in Cambridgeshire, England, uses Tripadvisor as a cornerstone of their marketing strategy. Consistently one of the top-rated restaurants in the area, they are seeing more and more of their traffic coming from Tripadvisor.
Welcome to La Pergola, Cambridgeshire
Those longing for the sunny shores of the Italian Riviera may not need to travel that far. Just six miles west of Cambridge, England, La Pergola at the Wheatsheaf serves authentic Italian fare, complete with wood-fired pizzas, homemade pastas, and classic desserts like figs with mascarpone.
“We are an independent, family-run restaurant,” says Rosa De Simone, the owner. “We have been open more than 10 years.”
In that time, La Pergola has become something of a destination in the area, with diners taking the drive out of the city to experience a little piece of la dolce vita in England. The restaurant has more than 500 reviews, an average bubble rating of 4.5/5 and a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence.
The Challenge: Seeing Marketing Results
True Italian cooking speaks for itself, but it was tough to get noticed outside of the city. “In the first few years, we marketed ourselves in local dining out guides, newspapers, and magazines,” says De Simone. “It was very rare to hear a customer say that they had read about us in one of the publications and that made me question my marketing strategy.”
To guarantee a return on investment, De Simone turned to online channels. “I began to notice that we were getting more reviews on Tripadvisor, and that customers were mentioning they had learned of our existence because of Tripadvisor,” she says.
How They Use Tripadvisor“I began to notice that we were getting more reviews on Tripadvisor, and that customers were mentioning they had learned of our existence because of Tripadvisor.”
Now a top-rated restaurant on the platform, De Simone worked on investing time and energy into adding Management Photos, updating business details, and monitoring reviews. Says De Simone, “I began to incorporate Tripadvisor into my online marketing by putting a link to our Tripadvisor page on our website and also using some of the great reviews on our Facebook page.”
This is free and easy for anyone to do. Once you’ve claimed your listing, choose from a variety of widgets and buttons to add to your website to promote your Tripadvisor listing and gather reviews directly by downloading our Tripadvisor Facebook app....
Why This Spanish Restaurant Always Asks For Reviews Dos Cielos, a fine dining restaurant in Madrid’s Los Austrias district, is on the hunt for the famous Torres’ brothers next Michelin star. Here’s how they use Tripadvisor reviews as a critical part of their journey to becoming the best restaurant in the city.
Welcome to Dos Cielos, Madrid
With two Michelin stars already under their belts, the famous Torres brothers chose a former 19th-century stable as their setting for Dos Cielos Madrid. In the heart of Los Austrias, the oldest part of Madrid, their restaurant is nestled in the historic courtyard of luxury hotel Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques.
The Torres brothers find inspiration in the history of Madrid, with a tasting menu perfecting the art of local Spanish cuisine. Already known as a gastronomic powerhouse, the restaurant has earned a Certificate of Excellence on Tripadvisor and has an average rating of 4 out of 5 bubbles. More than 1,000 locals and travelers visit their restaurant every month — with only 12 employees!
The Challenge: Achieving Excellence
“We work every day to satisfy customers with a good product and an impeccable service,” says Enrique Expósito Hernández, Associate Revenue Manager at the Hotel Gran Meliá Palacio de los Duques. “Our main objective is to become a restaurant at the Michelin Star level.”
One of the ways to achieve this? Making sure their online reputation reflects their restaurant’s brand experience. “Customers communicate their satisfaction on social networks,” says Hernández. “We have the best ambassador: the customer. Online reviews are the most useful contributions that customers can make.”
Creating a Positive Feedback Loop with Online Reviews
Dos Cielos uses Tripadvisor to build an active feedback loop for their restaurant. “Customers communicate the good experiences in social and these reviews generate a good reputation,” explains Hernández. With reviews in hand, the Torres brothers can work with the team to make sure every single table receives the best possible service. And if anything doesn’t work — they know about it right away and can fix it. “This is the reason why we always ask our customers to leave their reviews on Tripadvisor, both for the hotel and for our restaurants.”
With reviews, the restaurant can extend its service and hospitality online. “We are very active with Management Responses,” says Hernández. “We personalize and take our answers very seriously.”...
Why This Yorkshire Restaurant Won the 2017 Travelers’ Choice Awards The Black Swan at Oldstead became the first British restaurant to top the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Restaurants world list. What goes into running a Travelers’ Choice-winning restaurant?
Welcome to the Black Swan at Oldstead
The Black Swan at Oldstead sits in a small stone-covered cottage on a tree-lined lane in Yorkshire. Mixing traditional Yorkshire cuisine with a swirl of creativity and eccentricity, this Michelin-starred restaurant is all about old-fashioned hospitality. They treat everyone like family.
“We are a family-run business and I think our friendly, welcoming approach is what our guests really enjoy,” says Banks. “Our aim is to serve the best and most interesting dishes but with a relaxed, friendly atmosphere for everyone.”
A Passion for Local Ingredients
At Black Swan, the food is the star of the show. “Our focus is on showcasing amazing food made from local ingredients,” says Banks. “We grow a lot of the produce we use in the restaurant on our own farm and that dictates what we have on our constantly evolving tasting menu.”
But great ingredients are just the foundation. “From there, the creative process when adding a new dish is a very collaborative one. Ideas can come from anywhere, and then we work together as a team to hone those ideas into the best dish possible.”
Hospitality is All About Staff
But the Black Swan experience goes well beyond food. It’s the hospitality that matters. When it comes to delivering extraordinary consistency year-round, Banks is clear. “We have a fantastic team but consistency is down to everyone’s passion every day. So often jobs in hospitality are seen as a stop gap for people, but everyone who works at the Black Swan is professional and driven for a career in hospitality and that makes a difference.”
For Banks, that means that part of the staff is also family. “Running a family business is brilliant,” he says. “You have the support of the other [family] members and that can remove a lot of strain from day to day responsibilities.”
Great Experiences Generate Great Reviews
To win a Travelers’ Choice award, the highest honor Tripadvisor bestows, restaurants must have consistently excellent reviews and ratings from real diners over the course of the year. For Banks, building great experiences starts the virtuous cycle of more and better reviews, which helps continue to spread the word about their restaurant. Says Banks, “Customers are the most important part of any business and without doubt the best PR you can ever have.”...
How This Elegant Italian Restaurant Reaches More Diners Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890, a Michelin-starred fine-dining establishment outside of Sorrento, Italy, is constantly trying to be the best it can be. But it’s not exactly on the beaten path. Here’s how they use Tripadvisor to expand their word-of-mouth networks and drive new business.
Welcome to Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890, Sorrento
Picture the best fine-dining experience Italy has to offer — you’re probably thinking of Don Alfonso 1890. This two-Michelin star powerhouse has offered impeccable dining and service since 1973.
Located in the small village of Massa Lubrense, family-owned Ristorante Don Alfonso showcases the best of traditional Italian cuisine to locals and travelers coming from all over the world to live la dolce vita in colorful Sorrento.
The restaurant has over 1,000 Tripadvisor reviews, a perfect 5.0 bubble rating, has received the Traveler’s Choice award in 2016 and 2017, and is the #1 restaurant in the area. With 45 employees in the village, they serve over 70 tables daily when they’re open, from March to November.
The Challenge: Reaching New Diners
Head Chef Ernesto Iaccarino makes a constant effort to be better than the best. “We focus a lot on the product,” he says. “All our energies are on making quality dishes and giving excellent service.”
And while the awards and recognition for that effort has helped significantly, it doesn’t always get diners to climb the steep steps and hills up to their restaurant — even if the views are incredible. Because their restaurant isn’t exactly on the beaten path, it’s become a destination in its own right.
What really matters is word-of-mouth.
“In the era of social media like Tripadvisor, clients become our ambassadors,” says Iaccarino. “Anyone before reserving a restaurant goes to have a look on Tripadvisor.”
How Miramar Brings In Over 150 Diners Per Night With Tripadvisor Restaurant Miramar, a seaside restaurant in Mallorca, Spain, sees more than 150 diners per night during the summer season. Here’s how they use Tripadvisor Ads and Tripadvisor Premium to build their brand and keep their restaurant busy all year long.
Welcome to Restaurant Miramar, Mallorca
Nestled under a grove of palm trees, this seaside restaurant boasts more than great food. If you dine at Restaurant Miramar, you’ll find yourself sipping wine while watching the sun set slowly over Port D’Alcudia.
Located on the Paseo Marítimo, Restaurant Miramar serves tasty and authentic Mediterranean cuisine to locals and travelers from around the world. And they’ve been doing it as a family since 1871.
The restaurant has more than 600 reviews, an average bubble rating of 4.5/5 and a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence. In high season, the business has 30 employees who deliver an impeccable dinner service to over 150 diners each night. The rest of the year, the restaurant focuses on lunch service and weekend meals.
The Challenge: Standing Out in the Crowd
Mallorca is one of the most popular summer destinations in Europe — not just for travelers from other countries, but for Spanish tourists, too. “Our biggest challenge is to make our restaurant known [to locals and to tourists], and to know the characteristics that differentiate us from the other establishments around,” says Jaime Solé, Miramar’s General Manager. “We are looking to stand out in Alcudia by offering high-quality food and the best service to our customers.”
But with hundreds of restaurants for diners to choose from, how do they do it?
Miramar focuses on their brand to set them apart. “To reach this goal, we are committed [to using] Tripadvisor and TheFork daily. We have been [using] these two portals for the last three years.”
How They Use Tripadvisor
“We made an important effort to publicize our restaurant," says Solé. "We have enabled online reservations and we highlight the reviews that we think are most interesting, which we can easily do with the tools provided by Tripadvisor Premium and Ads packages.”
Tripadvisor Premium helps Miramar manage their brand and put their best foot forward. Storyboard gives them the opportunity to make a great first impression with potential customers visiting their Tripadvisor listing. “The image carousel is very interesting and visual,” says Jaime Solé. “The ability to highlight [our Favorite Review] is a tool that has helped us showcase great diner feedback. We can choose a review that truly reflects our food offerings and our service.”
Tripadvisor Ads serves as a great compliment to their listing, enabling Miramar to attract diners from around the world. “Tripadvisor Ads have allowed us to be in a prominent position,” confirms Solé. “As a result of using Ads, we have managed to reach [customers in] new markets that may never previously have found our restaurant,” Solé says.
The Results“These two tools to improve our online marketing have increased visits to our restaurant — that, for us, is the best benefit.”...
How This Seattle Restaurant Increased Revenue By 30% with Tripadvisor Nue, a Seattle restaurant, recently rose to the top spot on Tripadvisor's popularity-based rankings. Here’s how they did it and how Tripadvisor has helped them increase their booking traffic and revenue by 30%.
Welcome to Nue, Seattle
If you walk through the doors at Nue, you’ll be immediately transported to another continent. Which continent? That depends on the menu that day.
United by their love of travel and food, Uyen Nguyen and Chris Cvetkowich, co-owners, showcase unique and interesting dishes you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in the United States.
"One of the things at the core of our passion is that anytime we travel, we see such diversity in food. But here, the same dish is always featured," explains Nguyen. "The analogy I would make is that in the U.S., you would see a lobster roll if you traveled to New England and clam chowder when you’re in San Francisco, but when you go abroad for American cuisine, you just see burgers and french fries. Why is it that other items aren’t being featured? We wanted to introduce people to [new] food."
This approach introduces Seattle residents to traditional global dishes, like South African Bunny Chow or Romanian Mamaliga. Their goal? To attract curious eaters like themselves — as well as local immigrant communities yearning for tastes from home. "When we featured Romanian Mamaliga, we met the Romanian community [in Seattle]," says Nguyen. "Someone even brought their mom all the way from Vancouver to try this dish because they were honored that [we] would feature their home cuisine."
That’s where Tripadvisor comes in. "It’s my #1 choice [as a review platform for my business] because I can really appreciate customers who are out there seeking the experience of different cultures," says Nguyen. "When I travel to other countries, I use Tripadvisor. I wanted to really focus on that platform because I wanted to engage the traveler [since] our whole concept is built around travelers."
The Challenge: Starting a Restaurant from Scratch
Starting a restaurant is always a challenge, and it was no exception for the husband-wife pair. "At the beginning, we had to work to earn every single customer that worked through the door," says Nguyen.
Part of that was putting in the work to manage Nue’s online reputation, including uploading Management Photos, responding to reviews, and updating their business hours. "When we started being more intentional in answering all the little questions Tripadvisor asks for us to fill in, we saw a major increase in engagement from our customers clicking on things," says Nguyen.
Managing their listing also helped them drive more reviews from customers. Says Nguyen, " I noticed that once we had better pictures, we started driving a lot more reviews."
How This NYC Food Truck Uses Customer Feedback to Beat the Competition Here’s the story of one food truck company that thrives in the ultra-competitive New York City restaurant market – besting more than 10,000 traditional establishments to become one of the top rated on Tripadvisor.
Welcome to Wafels & Dinges, New York City
Currently ranked in the top 1% of New York City restaurants on Tripadvisor, Wafels & Dinges is a food truck company in New York City that sells freshly made Belgian waffles with a variety of toppings, known as dinges. That’s no easy feat, especially for a business that didn’t have a brick and mortar location until mid-2013. Says Owner Thomas DeGeest, “Food trucks are enormously popular because we offer something unique to consumers – affordable, high quality meals. Our food trucks specialize in one thing, making waffles, and we do it very well. Specialization is the key to success in our business – you have to do what you do better than anyone else."
Starting out as a food truck offered DeGeest the opportunity to develop their concept more fully before committing to a brick-and-mortar location. "We’ve noticed a developing trend where a concept starts in a food truck and then moves to brick and mortar," says DeGeest. "You vet the concept in the street, find out if it works and then move to a quick-serve restaurant location. We’ve been running waffle carts for six years, but we just opened our first café in 2013. The trucks have been a scalable and reliable solution for building our business.”
The Challenge: A Competitive Market
In a place like New York City, hundreds of food trucks and thousands of restaurants compete for hungry diners. Says DeGeest, “[Our biggest challenge is] oversaturation – we’re starting to see that issue on many of the streets in New York City. Sometimes a market starts underperforming and we need to find a new location for that truck. That’s hard because regular customers have a habit of counting on our schedule in a particular area."
Plus, food trucks bring their own set of complicated regulations on top of what a brick-and-mortar location has to deal with. "City laws are not always very helpful or clear for food trucks,” says DeGeest. With complicated and lengthy parking, scheduling, and waste disposal laws, it's a miracle that food trucks ever became so popular.
Using Social Media to Stand Out
Founded in 2007, Wafels & Dinges was one of the first companies to use social media to communicate the locations of its food trucks. Today, the company has a robust social media following, with over 50,000 Twitter followers and 12,000 Instagram followers. Each day, @wafelsanddinges uses their social channels to alert followers of locations, build their brand with their quirky voice, and entice potential and repeat customers with mouthwatering photos of their wafels.
Because the market is so crowded, DeGeest uses social media and listing profiles like Tripadvisor to stand out from the crowd. “We learn a lot from social media and a member of our team is dedicated to it," says DeGeest. "We use our own sense of humor and tone to profile ourselves as a company that’s fun, accessible, affordable and quirky. It differentiates us from competitors."
But social media isn't just for branding. It's an essential communication tool for the business. Says DeGeest, "There are a lot of variables for a food truck business and we also use social media to keep customers up to date. If there’s a mechanical issue, we’ll use Twitter to get the word out. Being an early adopter of social media has contributed to our success.”