Even though I feel I've met a few people here and there through social media I've analyzed the pros versus the cons. Some of the pros are the people that come to Cueva might see our social media posts but they already come because of the in-person relationship we've created at Cueva Bar. You know who you are. The reality is that while social media like facebook, twitter, Instagram amongst others helps some people do business, it hasn't helped Cueva Bar. There are all kinds of businesses with big-budget flooding the airways, every day and the new algorithms in such social media platforms are engineered to only help a business if the business is paying for a marketing campaign. I tried these paid campaigns and only got 0 results. Trying to get the word out with the help of food writers? There are only three instances this worked out. I hired a Public Relations agent who reached out to about 10 of San Diego's known food critics and writers, only two agreed to come to check out Cueva Bar. The times I approached them asking what is they're looking for to write about a food establishment in their channels they shared the following:
-Are you opening a new place?
-Are you expanding?
-Give us shinny, worthy news and we'll publish.
There are always exceptions to the rule, of course. Twice I reached out sharing the news that I was going to appear on the Food Network in a cooking competition and there's one writer who became interested in the news. The other times Cueva has been featured on paper or online publications has been because either such food writers have already experienced our tapas and are kind enough to help us by featuring some of the events we've had, or special menus. They've come on their own or by invitation from some of our secret admirers. To those food writers, I am forever grateful. It doesn't stop there. There are also those podcasters who've decided to invite me and discuss food, the restaurant industry and other matters on their show.
It is safe to assume that the connection people have with Cueva Bar is because they've experienced first hand what we offer. The few people that have come to Cueva Bar because of our social media posts already know about our tapas, wines or local craft beers. Owning and managing a restaurant comes with a lot of challenges, but that's life. I can't grow muscles in my body if I am not challenging them through workouts, lifting weights, or in my case, practising yoga asanas, isn't so? The easy aspect and the part I enjoy the most is making personal connections, in person. Greeting our guests, making sure they feel comfortable and welcomed. Then the highlight is when our dinners smile and feel happy from the tapas, tacos or empanadas they had. Sometimes this in-person interaction might get a little interesting when people ask us how is the business doing? I ask myself that question at the moment and wonder what does that question mean? Quickly I must generate an answer.
A few of the known facts that come to mind:
-Business is still alive and you're here. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow never knows so lets party like is 1999!
-There are good times and challenging times. Do you really want to hear about the challenging times?
-It's expensive as heck to run a business like a restaurant.
This type of conversation usually happens when there are 2 or three couples already there. It rarely takes place when we are visibly busy. Honestly, it feels uncomfortable. I see you as coming to have a good time, not to hear about how slow that certain day has been, or that my eye twitches because of an underlying stress only my subconscious knows about, or that we have a small team and when one member calls in it put a dent in how we can run the business that day, or all the other thoughts that cross my mind, day after day about how is that we can take the business to the next level. The truth is, I leave all troubling thoughts at the door when I arrive at Cueva Bar because I see it as a sacred place where people like you come to relax, have a good time and nourish your body and soul with the food and drinks we offer. Imagine how your tapas would taste if I tell you all the mental challenges I go through at any given day. I want you to enjoy your time with us.
Managing social media is a full-time job, one that requires many hours of creating content, both visual and copy. Managing Cueva Bar efficiently is key so that I still have time to live the personal side of life, and that's why I've decided to do this differently with social media. I've invested the last nine years of my chef life building the systems in both the kitchen and front of the house and yet I found myself feeling like wheels had begun to spin in the same place. Why do I conclude this? Cueva Bar is my second home. Being there allows me to ask everyone who comes in how they found us or what is that brought them in.
The feedback I get 99.9999999999 per cent of the times is:
-We googled for best tapas, gluten-free options, happy hour, best sangria in San Diego, and a few other keywords.
-We looked you up on yelp after searching for food around University Heights, North Park, Uptown San Diego, etc.
-My friend, cousin, parents, co-workers told me I needed to come to check this place out.
No one who's come to Cueva Bar for the 1st time has found us on Facebook (other than a few through the Eating and Drinking in San Diego page, or Instagram. The 5 people I met through twitter stay in touch directly or have moved away to a different town, or who knows. One of those five twitter users is my friend and entrepreneurship mentor Alex Theis. The only and limited social media interaction we have is through our mastermind's page, every other interaction we've had is in person, or text. When at home, I am supposed to be spending quality time with my family but instead I would find myself looking at it scrolling down the timelines to find a subject I could interact and be part of the conversation but that wasn't happening. Thankfully, my website service provider has tools where I can share my blogs and updates directly from this desktop, but I won't have to log in directly and get pulled into political posts, news about the world burning up, or the battle between pro-vaxers and anti-vaxers, amongst other things that really don't add any value to my daily efforts of coming up successful at the end of the day both at Cueva Bar and at home with my family.
It's been two weeks since I changed my social media usage habits and I already have so much time to write these blogs, and it will certainly give me more time to create content like wine tasting videos and a podcast I've been stirring in the pot. It smells like it's ready to be served in a delicious, warm sourdough bread bowl. If you're reading this I want to invite you to stay in touch with us through email, through this webpage, through these blogs and more importantly, through your direct support when you come to Cueva Bar or when you refer your friends and loved ones to come to visit us. Your referral is the best boost Cueva Bar can receive.