Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 2:10 p.m.
A nationally-recognized restaurant blog branches out to Minneapolis
Eater Minneapolis website
For those familiar with Eater's nightlife- and restaurant-culture-centered network of city-specific blogs, you might have thought that our own local scene would lend itself well to Eater's slightly gossipy tone and and interactive infographics. Well, actually, we know you wondered about it because some of you were quite vocal with your thoughts, according to Eater's founder, Lockhart Steele.
The Hot Dish caught up with Steele and local managing editor Claire Stanford to learn more about Eater's history, mission, and how Minneapolis measures up in the context of the national restaurant scene.
Eater, born out of the similarly formatted real estate blog Curbed that Steele started with his partner back in 2004, is based in Manhattan, but dedicated Eater sites popped up in several major metropolitan areas soon after its NYC launch. So how did his interest in real estate lead to a food blog?
"I started Curbed because I was interested in tracking the way that neighborhoods grow and change, and I realized how much impact the opening or closing of a good restaurant had on a neighborhood and how much it would shape that change," says Steele. "So it was only natural to extend that idea and focus more tightly on the world of restaurants."
Eater keeps a running list of the markets and cities they would ideally like to expand to, but Steele says they are not chosen based on any statistical analysis or other hard-and-fast criteria. "Minneapolis was always high on that list, and honestly every time we launched an Eater site in another city, we always heard from people from Minneapolis about getting Eater there," laughs Steele. "I've never seen quite the level of popular uprising as I did with Minneapolis."
So we fought the good fight to get them here, but with a bevy of other great local food blogs, it did raise a question: What would Eater bring to the table? "We aren't really meant to be a straight-up food blog, where we post a lot of pictures of food, and we aren't a restaurant review site," Steele explains. "We know there's already so much of that going on that's being handled really well. [Thanks, Lockhart!] So our method is to ask for tips from our readers about the things they see, hear, and experience in or about local restaurants, and then our reporting goes sort of a more traditional route from there. The tips are the jump-off point to digging much deeper into the story."
And getting reporting that informs and entertains would be impossible to do without someone local who can be on the scene. That's why Steele appointed Claire Stanford, who is currently the managing editor of Simple, Good, and Tasty
, a contributor to Bon Appetit, Grist,
, and an instructor of food writing and food blogging at the Loft Literary Center. For now, she'll make up the whole team of Eater Minneapolis, but she says she's eager to be working with other outlets here.
"I think we already linked some of our launch pieces to other local blogs," Stanford says of the infant site. "And we will be launching the Eater 18 soon and the Eater Heatmap
later in the day. That shows all the hot-right-now places that have opened in the last two months or so." The list looks pretty spot-on to us.
Stanford says she's hoping to uncover the "weird, juicy bits" of nightlife experience from locals. "Who they saw, what they overheard, all the rumblings of restaurant culture."
But Steele describes the overall goal to be a bit loftier. "We do want to kind of amplify Minneapolis's scene on that national stage, where it absolutely deserves to be," he says. "That's something unique that Eater can do because of its presence in all these different markets."