Does Social Media Really Influence What We Eat?

Facebook Foodies Impacting Fort Bend Businesses

Joshua Piper, Staff Writer

At just over 37,400 members, a Fort Bend Facebook group has reviewed restaurants all over the Katy area. The group, titled the Katy/Fort Bend Foodies, seems to be devoted to sharing the best restaurants to families looking for their next spot to eat. This collaboration of the community does have its drawbacks though. Because of the publicity of this group and its numerous members, many establishments have had to close their doors or have been overrun with crowds of people. 

For example, Bonefish Grill at La Centerra closed at the beginning of 2017 and when researching one can find a few negative comments about the restaurant in the group. These negative comments seem to have been posted mostly from April to December 2016 conveying similar timeline of its close to the comments. These bad reviews were not just seen in this Facebook group, but also on review sites such as Yelp. However, the comments on Facebook are more accessible to other people due to the group’s large social media following. While each comment is based on the opinions of one person typing out their experience, due to its placement on Facebook it could deter a tentative customer from going. These comments may have not been the main reason behind Bonefish Grill’s decline, but they definitely could have contributed as this group has been linked to other successes and failures of various eateries. These restaurants include, but are not limited to, Tiger Noodle House and Proud Pie.  

Another example of the swaying of customers is shown by the Russo’s New York Pizzeria on Westheimer Parkway which closed mainly due to competition from other pizzarias just before Hurricane Harvey.  According to multiple comments from October 2016 up to its closing, many seemed to dislike this place. However, competition and inability to catch up after Harvey most likely was the main cause. Most would be written by newcomers to Katy looking for a nice pizza place in the area. Many recommended other Pizzerias, such as Rosa’s Pizza and Big Paulie’s Pizzeria, and warned these people to avoid Russo’s.

This brings up another purpose of the group,to help new families to the area find places to eat. When one has no context of an area they turn to locals for recommendations. This is one of the most evident ways the group affects establishments, as it deters people from visiting before even encountering the area.  

 Furthermore, this brings up the question of social media’s control on people down to what they eat. When people see a Krispy Kreme review dogging on poor service or reviews raving about Proud Pie, people gauge the restaurants solely on another person’s words. The potential customer may not even know them, but they could have been swayed.  

Still, the group is worth a dive into as the administrators of the group are very active in stopping the bashing of a company. They close comments on posts if things become hostile. This was the case with comments about The Cheese Bar in La Centerra. As things got heated an admin politely closed the comments. The administration of the group should be commended as they truly show the mission of simply sharing good food.

Overall, this foodie group is a marvel of community and being connected to the people living in Katy. It has caused many companies to be successful as they had been hidden gems prior. Furthermore, negative reviews are handled professionally, and the group truly sticks to the food and service rather than destroying establishment’s reputations just because they have the ability to. Nevertheless, the swaying and closing of businesses must be a reminder to formulate opinions based off of one’s own experiences rather than a Facebook post.