Introducing the hosts of this podcast, Megan Nichols, from NC Eat & Play whose food posts and adventures have gained a huge following on social media, and Anthony Rapillo, owner of V Pizza and Flask Cocktail Bar.
In this episode, Megan and Anthony talk about some of the challenges facing the local restaurant industry, the role of social media as a tool to bring hope to business owners following the struggles of the pandemic, Asheville and NC Eat & Plays Spring Hootenanny & Foodie Festival presented by Cheerwine.
“People want to ask for help and people want to help.”
– [Megan Nichols]
“There’s a big difference between feedback and a negative review”
– [Megan Nichols]
- [01:28] Meet our hosts, Megan Nichols and Anthony Rapillo, as they highlight today’s topics.
- [07:15] Discussing challenges faced by the local restaurant industry.
- [14:07] How businesses found hope in the uncertainty of the pandemic.
- [19:40] Social Media as a key tool for word-of-mouth referral.
- [23:34] Handling bad reviews or experiences.
- [27:40] Springtime in Asheville
- [30:20] NC Eat & Play’s Spring Hootenanny & Foodie Festival presented by Cheerwine
Our hosts are Megan from NC Eat & Play and Anthony, the owner of V Pizza and Flask Cocktail Bar. They started this podcast to share slices of North Carolina’s food fanship and industry including town events and favorite kitchens and bars. “Megan is a Southerner with an appetite to share while Anthony is a rebel who never hits pause.”
In other words, Megan is often the go-to person for places to hang out and eat as a content creator while Anthony is constantly on the go as a business owner.
Considering some of the major difficulties local restaurants face, of note is the problem of staffing. Trying to hire new workers in his restaurants has been tough for Anthony. Especially getting people who share and believe in the vision of the restaurant which is a problem that spans the industry.
One major issue is the high personnel turnover. Many workers are college students who have to return to school, which makes staffing generally difficult. It gets so bad that some employees knowingly continue with their bad behavior because they feel they are not likely to get replaced. However, in these cases, it is important to know when to cut them off.
Another issue most restaurants encounter is working with delivery services. Anthony does not support this as part of his business model, especially the third-party delivery services. This is because the delivery service may compromise the quality of the food in the process of delivery. And it is the restaurant taking the blame. However, it has increasingly become a norm for customers to use delivery services.
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In the trying times that restaurants faced with lockdowns and other restrictions, there has been a need to connect to find Hope. The pandemic created an interesting dynamic between restaurants, customers, and content creators. Many restaurants were struggling and realized that referral by word of mouth would go a long way to help. This has encouraged more people to reach out to build relationships and get help.
Social media trends play a pivotal role, as restaurants and operators connect with followers in a hopeful way that encourages them to dine out again. More followers post where they’ve been and what they’ve had, encouraging others to try out these places. This is a huge part of the work Megan does through NC Eat & Play. It has made word of mouth a more powerful form of referral as more people trust personal reviews.
Dealing with bad reviews is an inevitable part of the industry. As an owner, Anthony works with his staff to sort things out. Very often, these reviews are fair criticism that highlights issues that should be addressed; nonetheless, it can be deflating.
It also is pivotal for a review to come with a comment on the situation. This is what differentiates feedback from a negative review.
When Megan has a bad restaurant experience, she simply avoids recommending it to her followers. More importantly, she makes a point to contact the owner to give feedback and then gives it another try.
It is not always necessary to give a bad review, particularly in situations where the negative review is based on our more subjective preferences.
Spring in Asheville
Asheville, North Carolina is a really beautiful place in spring.
It is known for its unique collection of breweries which each have a distinct ambiance. Anthony’s best experience was in a place called Burial Beer Co.
For Megan, her most memorable experience was flower picking in the mountainside of Asheville called the Never Ending Flower Farm. It can also be a great romantic experience or a place for a picnic.
A huge experience to look forward to is NC Eat & Play’s Spring Hootenanny and Foodie Festival presented by Cheerwine. It is a community party where people can relax and hang out while enjoying food and music. The Spring Hootenanny is going to be under an open-air pavilion with live bluegrass music, taking place at Phillips Farms of Cary. There will be a foodie festival, adult beverages, and games.