a food/wine/marketing blog that is funny by accident, sarcastic on purpose.

Websites

moved to shanaray.com.

Hey everyone, my blog has finally received a true makeover (courtesy of Philip Wyers at Advertainment Media) and while I still may use a WordPress template, it is no longer hosted on WordPress.

I also am in the middle of changing the name… So goodbye, shana; out on VHS yet and hello ?????

So please visit ShanaRay.com to read more about my adventures in Wine, Food and Marketing!

Thanks.

*shana.


note from tom (myspace).

Hey all,

Today marks the launch of MySpace Local which is a great place to check out local businesses in your neighborhood. You can rate, review, and share your favorite neighborhood venues with friends. We’re launching with two categories today (Restaurants and Bars & Nightlife), but will be adding many more soon. MySpace Local covers every major city in the U.S. Check out cool places near you.

I already wrote some reviews of my favorite places in Los Angeles — go here to read them if you want to see how it works. I’m looking forward to seeing your favorite places. Thanks to Outback Steakhouse for helping MySpace to make this happen.

-Tom

__________________________________________________________

I just logged onto MySpace for the first time in a few days to check on a comment and the first thing I saw was the above letter from Tom the “creator” of MySpace.  Since the drop in visitors to MySpace they have been trying to win people back through many different new features (most that are carbon copies of Facebook features), but will this local rating system for restaurants and bars be the thing that sets this social network apart and possibly win visitors (or brands) back?  Doubtful….  I tried it out by searching for “beer” in Santa Rosa, CA and only two bars (one that is actually closed) came up in the search.  I guess I will have to try it out again in a few weeks to see if anything has changed.

*shana.

myspave


a perfect blend of wine & social networking.

Thursday, April 2nd is Wine 2.0‘s latest San Fransisco event held at the Crushpad.  After months of hearing amazing tweets about happenings at this venue, I finally get to go!  If you haven’t heard about Wine 2.0, it is a wine social network/event planning company that is looking to bring the wine world into the 2.0 world….

In an interview done by Winterviews, Cornelius Geary, Wine 2.0’s CEO sums up what many of us wine bloggers already know:

“That direct connection with the consumer and the potential sale it holds, I believe, is the number one priority for wine brands in the U.S.”


customer service done right.

There has been a recent epidemic of blog postings that have been critical of the lack of customer service that a few wineries have provided, including two recent ones from me (here and here).  With the ever-expanding blog posts about everything from what people had for breakfast to the wine they drank before going to bed, the internet is a haven for people to write about their daily experiences.  It is also a fact that people talk more about their bad experiences than their good ones.  Online and during their everyday lives.

I was told by one of my male friends that my posts as of late have been a bit pessimistic and that I should write about something pleasurable and not just promotions or brands that upset me.  Though I don’t believe him, especially looking at the overwhelming exceptional customer service I received (and wrote about) from my favorite wineries over the past two Barrel Tasting weekends, I figured I would take a look at some places I have been to recently that I think have the right idea.  Two Sonoma County restaurants instantly came to mind.

Jack and Tony’s Whisky Bar– They opened up in Railroad Square in downtown Santa Rosa last month, but local Sonoma County chef, Jack Mitchell (of Sassafrass) knows that a good restaurant is nothing without a great staff who is dedicated to providing a memorable experience.  They literally rolled out the red carpet for their customers this past Wednesday.  It was their Grand Opening celebration and no matter how cheesy it sounds, the party was in fact  Grand.

jt-010

A limo drove guests from the Santa Rosa Hyatt and dropped them off at the front door.  Here guests were greeted by a red carpet and a smiling Jack saying “thank you” for coming.  For part of the day, a paparazzi style photographer snapped candid photos, the mayor showed up for a ribbon cutting ceremony and they gave away free appetizers.  The drinks were delicious and the garlic parmesan fries were cooked perfectly.

Jack personally went from table to table to greet each of his guests and to chat for a bit.  It will be interesting to see if they can keep up this level of great customer service, but as Jack told me “He had the best restaurant staff to choose from in Sonoma County,” so look for people who know what they are doing.

Bovolo Restaurant– One several different wine tasting occasions, myself and a group of wild women have entered into Bovolo (behind Copperfield’s on the Healdsburg Square) to dine on their infamous mac and cheese and carbonara dishes.  Other than my friends being obsessed with the handmade bacon, we go there because they offer free corkage for locals and I have a bit of a crush on one of the staff members at the cash register.  I like that you order off the menu at the cash register and you go to sit down, it brings a more informal vibe to the place.

bovolo

We tend to get a bit rowdy, so instead of yelling (which has happened at various restaurants or hotels), the staff will come in the back and simply ask us to keep it down.   I understand that sometimes we need to be reminded to use our inside voices, but asking us nicely goes much further than coming back and acting like we are ruining your life.

(Bovolo picture taken from Google Images)

Both of these restaurants have proven to me on more than a few occasions that it is the simple things that create an experience worth coming back for.


freebies + social media = hot restaurant strategy.

This article from Media Post News says it all:

Earlier this month, Denny’s gave away more than 2 million Grand Slam Breakfasts in one day with the help of a Super Bowl commercial and online chatter.

This week, Quiznos gave away a million subs in three days after using only banner ads, Facebook and Twitter presence and some free local radio exposure.

Denny’s may have been investing in brand awareness, but as the Quiznos promotion demonstrated, with consumers looking to save every penny they can, you probably don’t need the Super Bowl part to drive a freebie.

Another current example of using a giveaway and online chatter to drive restaurant traffic: International House of Pancakes just completed its third annual National Pancake Day on Tuesday, in which it gives away a small stack of pancakes and in return asks customers to consider donating to the Children’s Miracle Network or a local charity.

IHOP, which has raised nearly $2 million for charities since starting the day in 2006, relied on a dedicated Web site with a “tell a friend” pass-along application, its normal presence on key social networks and some PR to drive awareness and traffic.

The result? IHOP has not finished tallying, but the chain was shooting for $1 million and believes that this year was its best in terms of awareness, traffic and donations, according to spokesperson Patrick Lenow.  “The word-of-mouth generated through social networks was just incredible,” he says.

And that’s just this month’s roster of freebie-based promotions designed to draw in new diners, get existing customers to visit more frequently and pick up some revenue from the beverages and other purchases that usually accompany the freebie.

“Social networking and restaurants are a logical match,” says Reggie Bradford, CEO of social media marketing consultancy Vitrue.  “Food is naturally social,” he points out.  “Where do you want to eat?  Do you want to grab something here?  This is translating to online conversations around restaurant brands.  We’ve seen tremendous adoption of social media strategies among QSRs and fast-casual restaurants.”

Combine social media with freebies, and you’ve got marketing dynamite.  “Giving away food in these uncertain economic times obviously resonates strongly with consumers,” Bradford says.  “Huge gains are being made by brands who are reaching out to consumers with something tangible. IHOP deserves kudos for taking it important steps further by giving back to the community and forging loyalty along the way.”

The lift in online buzz has been significant for all of these promotions, based on Vitrue’s Social Media Index, which measures online conversations about a brand in social networks, blogs and Twitter.

Denny’s SMI score more than doubled (from 22 to 45.6) after its commercial and meal giveaway.  Quiznos’ jumped from 12.4 on the first day of the promotion to 16.1 three days later, or by 30%. IHOP’s score was 36.9 on Jan. 1 and 73.9 on Feb. 25, the day after Pancake Day–a 99% gain.

IHOP and other brands could benefit from more compelling Facebook pages, perhaps incorporating surveys, polling and a restaurant locator, Bradford says.  Providing franchisees with the tools to tap their online social circles to market local events is another opportunity, as is capturing event RSVPs to go back to individuals with coupons and other loyalty-building offers, he adds.


wine bloggers conference.

It is all about the First Annual Wine Blogging Conference this weekend. The entire Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa will be taken over by some of the best professional wine lushes in America.

My dumb ass was too much of a procrastinator when it came to actually purchasing a ticket so I wasn’t able to buy one before it sold out. Thankfully, I am now helping out with the CIA’s Blind Tasting Challenge so I am now able to get in! Whoo hoo.

The best part of the event: meeting all of the people I talk to on Twitter on a daily or weekly basis, including @winebratsf (whom I have already met and already know she kicks ass) of Vinquire and Luscious Lushes Wine Blog, @Sondara of WannabeWino, @DrXeNo of WineLog Blog, @smellslikegrape of Smells Like Grape Wine Blog and those are just the ones I talked to today…  There will be many, many others that would take me all night to write down.

Any wine bloggers reading this right now: I will be the one handing out Scharffen Berger chocolate, so look for me at the event!

More about the event next week, for now I leave you with a quote from everyone’s favorite internet wine geek, Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV.

“People are always talking about what you’re doing now… To me, it’s not what you’re doing now, it’s about where you’re going.”


more recipes i have found.

More food blogging research has led me to a new site called Tastespotting which allows visitors to browse recipes and food articles based on the visual aspect of the recipe.  It is my new favorite site and simple to use….  Just look through their homepage and if you see something that interests you, click on it.

“Founded on the idea that we eat first with our eyes, TasteSpotting is our obsessive, compulsive collection of eye-catching images that link to something deliciously interesting on the other side.”

I posted my happy pepper post on their site and that day I received over 300 visitors, and here I am basically writing to myself.

Some of my favoirte recipes from this week:

Butternut Squash with Pecans and Blue Cheese from Tea and Wheaten Bread

Peach Gnocchi in a Champagne sauce from 101 Cookbooks

Green Lemonade from The Toddler Cafe (don’t let the blog name fool you, there are plenty of easy adult recipes here too… Or at least easy to make recipes for newbies like me).  The images on this site are some of the most eye catching out of any food blog, a perfect site to be promoted on TasteSpotting (see picture above for the Green Lemonade).

I will be trying out the Green Lemonade drink this week…