Plan Philly: South Kensington Businesses Use Internet Resources for Development
A fax machine printed out a lunch order at George’s Pizza, located at Second Street and Girard Avenue in South Kensington. Employees did not take the order over the phone—they hadn’t even spoken to the customer.
Internet resources ranging from Facebook and Twitter to GrubHub and Yelp and even Lucky Ant are playing a role in how South Kensington businesses bring in more customers and develop. Sometimes business presence established online relates to how businesses become well-known in the community.
George’s Pizza uses GrubHub, an online food ordering service that lets customers decide their whole meal and even pay the bill. The service then sends the customer’s order to the restaurant—sometimes via fax—to complete for delivery or pickup.
“It’s a lot easier—because when you’re busy, you can’t go on the computer and check the orders out. It doesn’t work for us [like that],” said Maria Ofidis from George’s Pizza.
Ofidis said that GrubHub has steadily brought in new customers to her business and helped market George’s Pizza.
“They [GrubHub] do mainly the advertising for us, so they bring us [George’s Pizza] a lot of business,” she said.
The response to other social media strategies she has tried out for her business has been lukewarm.
“I haven’t gotten any response—you know, people telling me [that] we checked your Facebook,” Ofidis said. “Supposedly it’s a new way of communicating with others, but I’m not really fond of Facebook.”
George’s Pizza’s Facebook presence is also very small, with about 5 total posts and about a dozen followers.
Her other advertising method, distributing flyers door-to-door, also keeps customers interested. “I think most of our business comes through our advertising—flyers going door to door, not through Facebook.”
Another South Kensington business, El Cafeito at Third Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, has used Facebook to actually bring in a new group of customers and to target younger patrons.
“Your age demographic [college students]—everybody’s on Facebook or some type of social media—that’s how we reach out I guess,” said Hector Gomez, owner of this cozy café. He said that using Facebook especially was the main reason some customers came to El Cafeito.
“People have come in just from the photographs of the food that we post and the desserts,” Gomez said. “We’ve gotten real nice feedback.”
He said his business tries to post regularly, but is not very consistent. One of his employees primarily handles the social media account of the business. “She’s the one who has posted everything regularly.”
El Cafeito rarely uses other forms of advertising. “It’s all word-of-mouth when we’re basically trying to find the best way to [find customers],” Gomez said. He said he thinks that customers will either enjoy the food or they won’t—it’s the café’s quality that will decide if he keeps the new customers.
Gomez said that his business is also popular on Yelp, a reviewing website for businesses. “We’re on Yelp—we do really well on it.” However, Gomez said he had never heard of GrubHub before or considered using it.
Italian restaurant Trios Trattoria at Girard Avenue and Third Street also regularly gets customers from GrubHub. This business’s social media presence is evident with several hundred page likes and regular customer interaction.
Mariam Naeem said she liked the Trios Trattoria Facebook page after she had stopped in the area to buy a bicycle. The pizza from the Italian restaurant convinced her to connect on Facebook.
Some small businesses view Facebook pages as essential to attract new customers, but the rate of success varies along with how the resource is used.
South Kensington business Quince Fine Foods regularly posts on its Facebook page, especially explaining the daily food specials. Feedback is also strong from customers who interact explaining how much they enjoyed their experience at the business.
Social media also helped the Saint Benjamin Brewing Co. get the word out when it started planning the building of a new brewery in South Kensington.
With nearly 900 Facebook page likes, the company gets regular feedback on what residents want to see in the new bar and brewery that will open soon at Fifth Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Owner Tim Patton also ran a fundraiser online through Lucky Ant to restore some historical details of the South Kensington building.
Lucky Ant has worked with other businesses including a local coffee roaster and the Philadelphia Sculpture Gym, primarily focusing its efforts on small, mom and pop stores.
The online fundraiser worked similar to a Kickstarter campaign with people making donations for causes they support. The goal was to raise $20,000 for Patton’s new brewery, which was achieved.
“I can’t really get exposure the way any other brewery or small business could…so it’s been pretty key,” Patton said. “I try to keep my events posted and pretty up to date so people can see what I’m doing.”
“I’ve gotten a lot of really great feedback on Facebook.”
by By Sara Khan and Alyssa Saylor