Setting Up the Meetup
I started posting photos of food to Instagram, @alexeatstoomuch, as an excuse to eat new and exciting dishes but also to hopefully meet new people. I did not realize when I started my account in August 2017 this was a hobby requiring a great deal of dedication. As I have gone on this journey of eating at new restaurants and cooking new dishes at home, I have talked to quite a few new people and built up a small repertoire among other local foodies.
However, I can’t just do a hobby without trying to improve on what I am doing. I set myself goals and wanted to achieve new things with my Instagram and this blog. I primarily was excited to have a record of some of the foods I’ve eaten, but also wanted to improve my photography and editing, get to new restaurants and increase the number of followers seeing my mostly ridiculous habits. I’ve noticed my photography skills improving, most of the time, as I work to have better lighting, better focus and arrange my meals better. I think it is noticeable most of the time. Unfortunately, I’m not getting to new restaurants as much as I like, but trying new meals. After 5 months, I had 450 followers. Now at 10 months, as of writing I have 1182 followers and growing.
Over time I was discovering a lot of nationally known Instagram Foodies, mostly in NYC and San Francisco who were doing a lot of really exciting things and also eating together all the time in their cities. I really admire many of those Foodies for what they do. I would love to see Pittsburgh Foodie Instagram starting to evolve like NYC and San Francisco. I was starting to notice foodies in Pittsburgh rarely did anything together. There are so many food accounts popping up in Pittsburgh, but only a few were doing anything really different or working with anyone. I really wanted to find some ways to stand out and get noticed more.
I felt the next step for me was to start collaborating with other foodies and restaurants. This idea was kinda encouraged out of an Instagram Influencer workshop held by Piper Creative. They had local Instagrammer/bloggers speak to us about certain tips and methods to improve our feed. The Instagrammers @keeppittsburghdope, @erinbachman_ and @nicdimarco really talked about how two of the most important things were intriguing content and taking initiative. So that’s what I did.
My primary goal was simple, start Pittsburgh Foodie Instagram Meetups. I started with finding a group of local Instagrammers I who I usually interact with through comments and similar posts. I also decided to reach out to Instagrammers with email addresses on their accounts. I wanted this to seem a little more official at first. After deciding who to contact, I drafted a basic email basically saying let’s meet up and find a cool restaurant to do it. After getting a group of great local foodies on board, I reached out to a restaurant, again by email so it was more official. In reaching out to the restaurant, I didn’t ask for anything more than a table to be reserved with good lighting. I did not want us to think we were just looking for a food handout. They really liked the idea and were on board. As a note, not every restaurant or business might be interested in even just as something simple as a meeting. Definitely have an interesting pitch when reaching out. It helps.
The First Meetup
If you follow my Instagram, you have seen by now we held this Pittsburgh Instagram Foodie Meetup at the amazing Federal Galley in North Side. I picked this location because of lots of natural lighting, the fantastic selection of food available and an awesome bar with probably one of the best happy hours in Pittsburgh. The other foodies joining me were @foodismysaviorr, @morningafterpgh, @pittsburghpizza, @pittsburghplates and @yinzhungry412. I also reached out to @bamboooyah and @pghfooddude, but both were unable to join us. We all had a great time. We got a chance to get to know each other beyond the food we post, talk about some of our favorite restaurants, Instagram strategies and more. It really was great to spend time with people with the same level of a love for food. I really can’t wait to meet up with everyone again.
More importantly, what did we eat and drink. I made sure to be a bunch of drinks at the bar. I personally had a couple Turon Saba Old Fashioneds, a Blood and Sand, which is a variation on the Manhattan, and a Maggie’s Farm Smooth Sailing. For food, we got some Teader Fries, Packard Pepperoni and St. Aubin Sausage from Michigan & Trumbull, Pork Belly from Provision PGH, Hanger Steak from Supper and lots of Tacos from El Lugar. Another exciting part of the evening was meeting Kristen from Michigan & Trumbull. It’s always great to meet the chefs, hear about the food they create and tell them personally how much we enjoyed the food. The experience at Federal Galley was fantastic and I’m looking forward to going there again soon.
Now I need to figure out how to build on the awesome experience we just had at Federal Galley. My goal has changed from 2500 followers by the end of 2018 to minor Pittsburgh celebrity (I’m kidding….kinda). I definitely would love to continue to work with other Pittsburgh Foodies and restaurants. There is so much that can be accomplished just by eating together and promoting one another. I definitely feel like I am starting to find a great group to have food adventures and hope to do many more. I also think each of us had several people message or comment they wanted to join our next Foodie meetup. I would totally love to start including more foodies in meetups. We’ll have to find a space that can accommodate so many great people. Keep an eye out as hopefully we can all do something together soon. I also really want to work with more restaurants, food trucks, breweries and distilleries and local organizations. If you belong to one of those and think I’m awesome, reach out and let’s work together. If you’re not reading and I love the food or drinks you make, I might be reaching out. So I’m excited for the many things to come, the people I will meet and the many, many, many things I will eat.