As I said yesterday, I sometimes get a bit homesick for Manhattan but that when actual visits weren’t possible virtual visits helped a lot. With all the social media material places like the Guggenheim and High Line were posting online – it was easier and easier to keep up, in real time, even when on the other side of the Atlantic. But I didn’t realize – until I went looking – that so many of my favorite Gotham eateries had gone equally full throttle with their online presence. And while a virtual visit to Shake Shack or Katz’s can’t possibly match the joy of going in person, it still brings a certain something to my overall virtual visit to NYC on those days when I want to spend a bit of time there. Here are some of the yummier socially savvy spots I keep up with between actual visits.
Shake Shack: Now, Shake Shack is a global treat – with locations across the US and around the world, so their social media isn’t specific to New York but the ones I frequented most often were the Upper East Side and the Madison Square Park locations. So how to get my local Shake Shack fix online? One thing that Shake Shack DOES do on a more local online level – and that I think is very smart indeed – is the location specific community page. If you go to the page for the Madison Square Park location – where it all started for these delicious burgers – you’ll see the Shake cam, the featured specials for that location for that day, a peek at how that location fares in the overall Foursquare check-ins, the local weather for that spot and information on the staff, etc.
New York wouldn’t be New York without the Carnegie Deli so no virtual visit to the Big Apple is complete without a quick check of their Twitter and Facebook pages. What is really interesting to me on the Facebook page is reading the reactions to so many different types of people to the Carnegie. It’s NOT your usual restaurant. These are long, communal tables and the wait staff isn’t made up of the chipper young things waiting for their big break (hey, some cliches exist for a reason). It’s an old( 1937) NYC deli and the wait staff are who they are. You want someone to care deeply about your day? You’ve come to the wrong place. This is for GIANT sandwiches of perfectly cooked cold cuts, Dr. Browns sodas and matzo ball soup. One of the Carnegie’s best known and best-loved menu items is their cheesecake – and with good reason. it is EXCELLENT. But for me, the Carnegie is always a savoury trip rather than sweet. If I am in the mood for sweets, I check the next two places.
Crumbs – like Shake Shack – is national and not just New York but it quickly became very much part of my New York when it opened up near me. So many cupcakes are merely a delivery system for icing (and the icing at Crumbs is nothing to sneeze at) but at Crumbs, the cake part of the cupcake is the star of the show for me. Especially the red velvet – OMG! I keep hoping that if I haunt the Crumbs facebook page or the Crumbs twitter feed long enough, I’ll see them announce they are opening in Banbury, UK. A girl can dream, can’t she?
Another Gotham Sweet Spot that defined much of my time on the Upper East Side is Serendipity 3. Now, deciding when to go to Serendipity 3 was often a strategic decision, made after careful consideration of day, time, whether school was in session or not, if it was or wasn’t holiday season. Why? Because while they have a very nice full menu (the foot long hot dog with cheese is a particular favorite of mine), it is an ice cream parlour. An ice cream parlour DRIPPING with girly decor, butterfly shaped mirrors, chandeliers lighting nooks and crannies. An ice cream parlour that has more tourists than the Empire State Building (especially tourists with kids who have just poppped over from Dylan’s Candy Bar and are already on a sugar high). An ice cream parlour where a wait of over an hour is NOT unheard of if you haven’t made a reservation (and making a reservation isn’t all that easy). So why – you might wonder – would anyone put themselves THROUGH that. I can tell you in three words. Frozen Hot Chocolate. A virtual visit to Serendipity – via their facebook page or twitter feed – might not be as yummy as a real visit but by golly it is quieter and easier to get in. 🙂
Finally – nothing says social media savvy like the famous food trucks of New York City. Their use of Twitter alone is a case study in smart marketing but they are using every channel they have to keep their customers involved, updated and “in the know.” And when I say they keep customers involved, I must use the example of Big Gay Ice Cream. Big GayIce Cream doesn’t have customers as much as it seems to have a GINORMOUS extended family which includes relatives that visit from out of town just to see them. They have a storefront now but that is a recent thing – until that point, it was truck 100% and the way to find them (and trust me, the ice cream is so good you WANT to make sure and find them, not leave it up to luck) was to check their truck’s Twitter feed to see where they planned to be, how long they would be there and if they’ve had to move. I will keep up with the feed – despite being too far to get there – because a) they are as entertaining as all get out and b) because they are using this communication tool SO effectively, it’s a joy to watch. Also – did I mention how entertaining they are? Twitter means I know when they might be appearing on TV so I can catch them that way as well.
There are so many food trucks worth checking out if you are in NYC or if you are planning on being in NYC, that they need a post all on their own. But in the meantime, check out the Street Vendor Vendy Awards site (or their twitter feed or facebook page ) and see what catches your eye. The whole street feed scene in NYC is so plugged in, you’d almost think social media was made for them. I’m already planning my food truck tour next time I get back to town and all this access is making it incredibly easy.