Growing up in one of the most up-and-coming “foodie travel destinations” was certainly associated with its advantages. I spent my weekends in Pittsburgh’s trendy neighborhoods, and consisted of trips to the newest fusion restaurant, Cali-Mex, Japanese pubs known as Izakaya, and Belgian waffle bars. I had access to Manhattan quality restaurants with Pittsburgh level wait times and availability. With this cuisine available from such a young age, it’s certainly no surprise that I was obsessed with trying and rating the hottest new restaurants.
It started with a couple of nights of Google search and a few pictures of all the foods we’d settled on, but my foodie habits have since grown into a full facet of my personality. I’m the restaurant selector for my family and friends, a skilled food photographer, and a professional Yelp and TripAdvisor navigator. I schedule weekend reservations days, weeks, and sometimes even months in advance. When it comes to vacation, the highlights are first and foremost the thoroughly researched restaurant tips that I make.
I created the @yinzereatz Instagram handle a few years ago. For those unfamiliar with this colloquial language, “Yinzer” is defined as a person from Pittsburgh. The account started out as a way for me to find new restaurants to try out and only use it to look at other “foodie” accounts. However, the beginning of my freshman year brought a whole new restaurant scene into my repertoire, which inevitably aroused a sudden interest in what could become of my gourmet account.
And so @yinzereatz was born. Or rather, born again.
I was inspired and guided by the other Foodstagrams I’ve been following for years and started filling the account with different types of gourmet content. I use this report as an excuse to venture beyond eating in the dining room and visiting restaurants in the greater Charlottesville area, as well as for my research writing food columns for The Cavalier Daily.
I love how the account gave me the opportunity to find out how Charlottesville, much like Pittsburgh, has so much to offer in terms of the food scene. Some of my favorite places I discovered are Luce Pasta, Ivy Provisions, and Tavola.
The account can also be used to identify restaurants and other places that will be more accessible in the next year if I have a car. I already have plans with a friend I’ll be living with next year for weekly visits to some of the more casual restaurants in Charlottesville like Cava and – our all-time favorite – Chopt.
Posts also include pictures of my favorite spots back home in Pittsburgh, vacation dinners, and most recently my own kitchen. Inspired by my New Years resolution to cook more and eat healthier, I’ve started trying a few new recipes every week, ranging from crispy quinoa burgers to creamy tahini noodles.
In the few months since @yinzereatz made its comeback, I’ve garnered a small following of around 250 people – a number that has far exceeded my expectations of the account I thought only friends and family would be interested in I have too learned the importance of various tools like hashtags, locations, tagging users and feed layout as they are all related to account promotion.
I now realize how much potential this account has. Some of the Pittsburgh and Charlottesville “foodies” I follow have branding and promotional deals with local restaurants and businesses. If @yinzereatz’s growth continues briskly, I believe that a large window of similar opportunities can open up. Hoping to pursue a career in consulting or marketing, I feel that this account can be a good resume builder and a perfect interface between my personal and professional endeavors.
However, the real motivation behind @yinzereatz is my passion for eating and eating out. I see how this account can get business and branded, but ultimately I find that the best part about running this account is the joy it brings me.
For those of you who share my interest in food, or perhaps are intrigued by the career opportunities of a foodie account, I recommend starting with what I’ve done – nothing. Accounts like @yinzereatz have the advantage that they can be phrased into any type of account one could wish for – be it for an audience of close friends and family members, or one with a national following. With the right amount of spirit, dedication, and research, the possibilities are truly endless. You will be surprised how fast these accounts can grow like I did at @yinzereatz.
Regarding the future of the account, I plan to keep updating it casually like I do now. But visions of what this report can lead to in terms of future careers and hobbies pop into the back of my mind with every post.