Local pizza aficionado Brian Dwyer, owner of Pizza Brain- the world’s first museum and restaurant dedicated to the slice- values human interaction. Pizza is synonymous with party, according to him, and parties don’t occur online. “I think it’s healthier when people interact with other people,” he said, before admitting “it’s funny now because I use the Internet so much for my business.”
By Internet, Dwyer means that Pizza Brain, which opened nine months ago, inhabits a growing social media presence among independent restaurants and food vendors in Philadelphia. Dwyer’s social networking strategy, which involves Pizza Brain Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr accounts, provides a constant stream of news, photos and viral content for an ever-increasing Internet culture to connect with fans, patrons and potential customers.
“[Pizza] is definitely as popular as cats” on the Internet, Dwyer said, noting the universal appeal that comes from a viral form of marketing a business through the Internet.
The social media-isms of Pizza Brain permeate offline as well. iPads, set to the pizzeria’s Tumblr account of bizarre viral images and GIFs, adorn the interior walls of Pizza Brain alongside Dwyer’s collection of pizza memorabilia: framed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles posters among other pop culture pizza mash-ups. Aside from the inherent promotion strategy, it appears that pizza and the Internet go hand-in-hand.
Dwyer says that social media is more than an aesthetic for his restaurant though, citing the business-consumer relationship that websites like Facebook can foster. Social networks are the evolution of word-of-mouth, he said. “A lot of Facebook pages for businesses just sit there kind of stagnantly. Ours is ever evolving. It’s organic. It’s just as much created by people that are fans of the place as it is by the people who run it.”
With 3,343 Twitter followers and 4,669 Facebook ‘likes’, Pizza Brain is cultivating the local eatery Internet fandom, with fellow progressive businesses like Federal Donuts and Little Baby’s Ice Cream following suit.
Although he still finds the Internet somewhat “weird”, Dwyer is thankful for the platforms that social media has provided for his business. High amounts of buzz were generated years leading up to the restaurant’s opening prior to his “Give Pizza Chance” art show in 2010.
When asked if Pizza Brain could exist like it does 10 years ago, without the aid of social media, Dwyer said: “I think maybe 10 or 15 years from now we would have gathered some kind of following. I didn’t expect two and a half years of press before we even opened.”