Phoenix Restaurateur Prefers Social Media Over Coupons

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Chef Justin Beckett is one the proprietors behind Beckett’s Table, a go-to restaurant for foodies in Phoenix, Arizona. Since the restaurant opened last year, Beckett has developed a community on Twitter and encouraged check-ins on Foursquare by seeking out diners and introducing himself personally.

What does your business do?
Beckett’s Table is a restaurant that serves the community in Phoenix, Arizona. We’re still fairly new. We’ve been open since October 27th, 2010.

What have you found as the best ways to attract new customers at your restaurant?
We’ve really hung our hat on social media, as far as advertising. Even before we opened, we created a Facebook page, we created a Twitter following, and we were really into sharing recipes online.

Our goal was to show people that we were really into food, and we’re not just a couple of people who had never been involved in the industry and just decided to open a restaurant. This restaurant is really an expansion of our lifestyle. That’s really how we think about it. So we have really been using social media to reach out to people and show them what we’re doing.

We’ve definitely talked about rewarding mayorships. We’ve definitely talked about doing prizes and things like that, but it just hasn’t really come to fruition.

The one thing that we’re very cautious not to do is to say, “Hey, $2.99 if you bring a friend in. Today only. Mention Twitter.” We don’t want our social media accounts to be known for having coupon blasts on a daily basis. We’d rather show people what we’re doing and hopefully they’re attracted to it.

What types of online content do people in Phoenix seem to respond to most?
We have looked at some of the metrics behind the scenes to see what people are clicking on the most. If a post on Facebook or Twitter has a photo, or if it includes a recipe, people will definitely gravitate towards that. The other thing that people really like are the before and after videos of the demolition and the construction of the restaurant.

We are really not using social media as a way of polling people, but definitely we are creating questions and topics revolving around food. People usually get involved in those types of posts, as well.

Does the feedback you get online impact how you run your business or what you decide to serve on a given night?
Absolutely. Our menu is not printed in stone, so not only do we offers specials daily, but our vision is really to change the menu as the weather dictates and as the seasons and the food dictate.

If somebody says, “Hey, you know, how do I cook a beet?” Well I’d be happy to tell him that. But then that conversation might also spark an idea the next time I’m at the farmers market and I see some beets, and it may inspire me to pick up some beets or make a beet salad. There’s definitely influence from the outside world when it comes to our menus, but we will reform an idea, mold it, and put it into what will fit in at our restaurant.

Do you utilize Foursquare or Facebook Places at all?
Not as much as we should. We’ve definitely talked about rewarding mayorships. We’ve definitely talked about doing prizes and things like that, but it just hasn’t really come to fruition.

One way that I do use Foursquare is by checking in at the restaurant periodically throughout the night. Sometimes I’ll go to Foursquare and see who’s at the restaurant and what they’re saying, and I try to figure out who that person is or where he or she sitting in the dining room. If I can figure it out, I’ll go up and say, “Hey, I saw you check-in. Thanks so much.” You know, that kind of stuff.

So we’re making it personal, even though it’s a social media tool. We like to make it personal at the end of the day.

You mentioned that you don’t want to be known for offering coupons. What’s your view on sites like Groupon and Living Social?
I don’t know, I’m a little shy on it. I don’t think those sites are something that fits for every business. Our restaurant has four owners, and we’re here every day. Instead of spending our marketing dollars outside in the world, we’re spending our marketing dollars here in the restaurant. We’re rewarding people, we’re taking care of things, and we’re making sure that every guest is pleased when they walk out the door.

We don’t spend a lot of money on giving away free stuff outside. I feel like sometimes discounts and coupons might cheapen the brand just a little bit. We’re cautious about it right now.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.