CLARIFICATION: While the Thomas street 1000 Faces cafe location opened in 2017, there was an old roasting space on Barber street that was also open to the public and served as a cafe before this. Grady Newsource regrets the error.
What makes a foodie? Are they the person pushing forks away from their friend’s mouths, insisting they get a picture before everyone starts eating? Or do they simply just enjoy food?
To Anna Park, a fourth-year management information systems and international business major at the University of Georgia, a foodie is “someone who just wakes up and gets excited to eat. Like, that’s the thing that gets them out of bed in the morning.”
And Park, by her own account, fits this description. Since creating her food-specific Instagram account almost three years ago, she’s posted more than 150 photos of local cocktails, decadent desserts and even some of her own creations.
Why It’s Newsworthy: With the demand for photo-worthy food on the rise, Athens has seen the opening of numerous businesses aiming to cater to the Instagram generation. Whether it’s serving acai bowls, lavender oat milk lattes or edible raw cookie dough complete with all the toppings, the opportunity for such eateries to thrive continues to grow.
1000 Faces Coffee, a cafe north of downtown Athens, has found its social media presence instrumental to the growth of the business since opening their Thomas street location two years ago.
“You have to pay attention to Instagram… a more optimistic way of looking at it is that it’s an opportunity to connect with potential customers who might totally love your coffee,” general manager Mike Young said. “At the core of what 1000 Faces is… is Athens. Creating more space for more of Athens to interact with us on a on a regular basis was kind of the goal there.”
A supplier of locally roasted beans since 2006, the Athens centric company opened their Thomas street cafe in 2017. The company soon found itself tagged in dozens of photos of the expertly made coffee drinks on Instagram. Now boasting 10,000 followers, 1000 Faces utilizes the photo-sharing application to get the word out about new specialty drinks and attract new customers.
“You’re able to kind of communicate that message of what [customers] can expect from this establishment, what [they] can expect it from the experience, before people ever walk in the door,” Young said.
Matty Waldrup, general manager at local acai bowl shop Frutta Bowls, has found a similar experience in the Athens area.
“We’re in 2019,” he said. “Everything is like ran off of Instagram like its own currency. So yeah, everything needs to look very pleasing to the eyes.”
Mostly catering to “college girls who go to the gym,” in Waldrup’s words, the shop has found success operating in a space connected to popular student apartment complex, The Mark, which sits less than a mile from downtown Athens and UGA’s campus.
“I would say because you’re able to take those videos and those pictures, it makes you feel more there without having to be there,” he said. “So you’re just like, ‘Oh, I wish I could check that place out. Oh, wow. Look at all these pictures. I should really go there.’ It makes it more inviting, more enticing.”
However, Athens hardly stands alone when it comes to these photo-centric eateries. In a 2015 paper for Elon University’s Strategic Communications department titled “Instabranding: Shaping the Personalities of the Top Food Brands on Instagram,” author Kate Ginsberg explored company usage of Instagram as a low-cost marketing tool. Research presented found “common themes revealing that brands are using Instagram to promote their products and, more significantly, to colorfully express their personalities.”
Ginsberg focused on leading food accounts from companies such as McDonald’s, Ben & Jerry’s and Oreo, emphasizing how each uses Instagram to cultivate a voice for the brand, much like an individual running a personal food account. The gap between consumer and advertiser continues to lessen, and businesses are starting to take notice.
While celebrity chefs like Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey have successfully taken their established food careers to Instagram, the app has given young foodies a platform to launch their careers, much like fourth-year public relations student Lindy Simmons.
Since creating her food account just a year ago, she has amassed 6,400 followers, a figure which continues to grow “about 1,000 followers every four weeks, maybe.”
After some pestering from friends, Simmons decided to launch her account in summer 2018.
It really did just start like, ‘Oh, let’s take this with my phone and post it on Facebook because I love food,’” she said. “Now it’s actually become a serious passion of mine.”
Soon after she began posting Athens-centric food photos, such as edible cookie dough from Alumni Cookie Dough, cereal donuts from Ike & Jane or barbecue ramen from Pulaski Heights BBQ, the internship offers began coming in. She now interns as a photographer at Guide 2 Athens and just finished a summer internship with The Food Network in New York City.
“Instagram is the reason that I’m such a foodie,” Simmons said. “I started getting really into people’s Instagram accounts and thinking, ‘Oh, I can do that. I want to do that.’”
As a self-proclaimed foodie, Simmons defines the term as “anybody who is obsessed with food… That’s greater than anything to them. I also think a foodie is someone who can also spend hours looking at other people’s accounts. And that’s kind of how this all got started.”
Anabel Prince is a senior majoring in journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.
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