by Georgann Yara – Apr. 30, 2011 06:02 AM
When Dean Slover and his business partners were preparing to open RnR Restaurant and Bar, they debated over whether to hire someone to manage the business’ social-media aspect.
Nearly 14 months after the doors opened last March, the continued buzz and steady stream of patrons let Slover know the investment is paying off for his Scottsdale restaurant.
RnR has more than 600 Twitter followers and more than 3,700 fans on its Facebook page. Slover uses the page to post passwords that inform followers of specials, which has helped increase the restaurant’s visibility as customers share these deals with friends.
The restaurant’s social-media presence also helped create a buzz before RnR actually opened. In this struggling lagging economy, it proved to be a bonus.
The password element was a direct response to customers who suggested RnR come up with some kind of reward system for regulars. Social media also keeps the lines of communication open and allows Slover and his partners to track the level of service a patron received, how diners liked a new menu item or how any other strategy is going.
“With social media, it’s immediate and trackable. It serves as another venue to determine the level of satisfaction. People can give (feedback) online because they are comfortable doing that,” Slover said. “It’s such an integral part of what goes on here.”
Establishing a social-media presence has become just as or, in some cases, more important to drumming up business as print ads. The immediacy of the medium keeps users engaged and gets people talking about a restaurant or bar before day one.
Word about RnR spread about two months before opening day, social-media manager Uzra Vo-Cortazar said. She implemented Facebook ads, conducted polls about what prospective patrons wanted to experience and offered short teases about what was to come. Before March 2010, RnR’s Facebook page had more than 1,000 fans.
“I feel like it’s one of the best promotional and marketing techniques we use because it’s so direct with our clientele,” Vo-Cortazar said. “It’s like a close group of friends or extended family.”
Vo-Cortazar said the immediate feedback is most helpful in determining what, if any, changes should be made. Scottsdale resident Barbara Garganta has been a regular at RnR since it opened.
She and her friends keep up with the promotions and specials via Facebook, even following the restaurant’s community involvement with various charities.
“It’s one of the best and most reasonable,” she said. “The atmosphere has really great energy. It’s just a fun place.”
Slover calls the restaurant he owns with Les and Diane Coleri a “gastrobar,” which reflects the themes each of the owners originally envisioned: a comfort-food restaurant, a sports bar and a wine bar.
The kitchen serves up three meals and every snack in the between from 7:30 to 2 a.m. daily. The more than 30 items that comprise the breakfast menu reflects Slover’s personal passion for the first meal of the day. There are also dishes that give the menu a cosmopolitan flair, like the Dirty Chips inspired by a recipe Slover encountered in Boston and the Chicken Schnitzel, which is a nod to Austria.
The two-story, 4,000-square-foot building was built in 2009 and made to look like it had been there for decades.
Slover said he gets many comments from out-of-towners who think the structure is much older or resembles restaurants in older cities such as Chicago.
Slover said opening a restaurant in a lagging economy did not worry him.
“I should’ve been more concerned, but I had a huge amount of faith in the Old Town Scottsdale area,” he said. “With the location we had, it was the right time to do something like this.”