She calls herself Restaurant Blogger, she delicately balances her restaurants review factoring her experiences, the ambiance, the service and the quality of food. She gives a very un bias view and allows her readers to feel present as she shares her experiences. She has become an authority and has often been invited as a speaker at industry events. She is knowledgeable, she is savvy, and in a short while she has built her brand to be authority in this industry ”Your Food Geek”
Podcast Key Notes
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your background –
My name is UGANZE UDE KALU. I am a lawyer and I own the brand Your Food Geek. I have had it for about two years now. I haven’t been in industry for so long, but I’m one of these people that believe that it’s not a case of how long you’ve been in a game or anything; it’s about how much volume you have in the game in question. So, I haven’t done this for a long time but I’m confidently saying that I have a lot of knowledge in what I do with my brand. Also I prefer to be referred to as a Restaurant Blogger as against being referred as a food blogger because what I do is mostly about restaurant and the food that comes out of the restaurant,. It is about eating out, going out there and having to eat as against just talking about food. Being a blogger basically, I could cook in my house, take pictures of the food and talk about the food but as a restaurant blogger, I talk about the food that comes out of the restaurant, the ambiance, customer service; I mean everything that has to do with restaurant business and going out there having to eat.
Do you place more emphasis on the food or the ambiance of a restaurant?
I put my emphasis on any of the factors that affects the restaurant. When I ask people of what they look out for when eating out in restaurants, some will say the food, some the ambiance; I think it’s the total experience. It’s everything put together; the food, customer experience, staff, the ambiance. I think everything is factored when dining out. For me, my brand and what I stand for, it’s everything being put together – it’s beyond food for me. It’s the total experience. But majorly it’s about the food quality; I mean that’s the main purpose of dining out. (Listen to her podcast to know more on her take)
Howe many restaurants have you been to since you began your brand and how are you financing it?
I can’t actually pin down number of places I have been to to eat. But I can say that I have been to quite a number of them and haven’t been to all the places. Talking about the financing, let me give you a background of how I started this brand – I love to eat a lot, I know how to cook but I don’t like to cook… Now in terms of financing, I pay for my food but because I have gone deeper into what I do, I am identified and invited to come to restaurants eat some of their food and give them my genuine and authentic opinion. For example, when there are new menu in some restaurants, they call me to come and have a taste of it because they want me to give my opinion on it. In this case, I don’t have to pay for the food; but that I don’t pay for it, wouldn’t alter my opinion of the food on how it is. On the other hand I have to eat out, to have the experience and to have something to talk to my audience about.
How long did it take before restaurateurs saw you as an influence?
The brand is invariably 2 years now, but I don’t think it was up to a year before people actually started reaching out telling me they love what I was doing. I think what made them reach out to me was my consistency. I’ve always said to people that it’s not a case of how long you’ve been doing something; when people are able to see that you are consistent in what you do, they begin to see value in it. So, people have seen value in what I’m doing and they are encouraging me for it. And I think what actually sells me the most is that people are seeing that I’m passionate about what I’m doing; for me it’s a lifestyle.
Have you had a scenario where you were called in and you had a negative review about the brand/food?
I have had a case, oh yes…! I have had a case where I was called in to come try a food and give my opinion and I was going to talk about it on my platform, my blog and my Instagram page so, I remember it wasn’t really about the food for me, but for the fact that what they served me with wasn’t as clean as it should be for a customer. So for them to have called me in and didn’t take the time and extra measure to make sure that their dishes; not the food now – wasn’t clean. I look at everything including cutlery wasn’t properly clean so that was my experience. But let me point something out; as much as I like to be objective, I wasn’t going online trashing any body’s business. I won’t do that because for every experience I have had, it can’t be completely or totally bad, there’s always something good in it. So, you have to be fair enough to give them that as much as you are pointing out what they’ve done wrong; be fair enough to also tell them where they’ve gotten it right – that way you create a balance.
Is there any restaurant in Lagos you are surprise closed down?
There’s actually one that has shut down. But, I wasn’t really surprised that they shut down because I knew it was close to it. Not everybody is suppose to own a restaurant; it doesn’t make you less knowledgeable than the rest. I believe in having long-term plan. What’s your plan for today, for tomorrow and for next year? What do you have in mind to sustain your business? Curiosity always falls People will always come to see a new place and after a while they stop. So you have to find out what makes you stay in business.
How can you make money from this?
Well let me clear something like I’ve always said to people; not everything is about money for me when it comes to my brand because I have passion for what I do. So, I’m not bent on making money from it. I’m just really happy that at least I’m able to make whatever impact that I will make with it and it could be in terms of just having to enlighten people; it could be in terms to give diners like myself preformed descriptions when it comes to dining out; where to go to and what to expect. So, for me, that’s money already and so much value. I get really excited when people reach out to me to come and review their menu – it means they see value in what I do and to some extent makes me an authority.
Key takeaway Points:
- How long you have been doing something doesn’t matter, be consistent and offer value
- Have a long term plan if you want to open a restaurant
- Plan for today, Plan for tomorrow, and Plan for years. How will you stay in business.
- Build a brand and the money will follow if it is money you are after.
- Make an impact with your brand
- Focus on the total experience, include ambiance , customer service, decor and food quality.