Ordering Off the Menu with #NOLATech

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that New Orleans is considered to be at the forefront of foodstuff innovation. Our institutions are given the impossible task of consistently impressing city patrons, some of whom still dine at the same table at which their great grandparents got engaged. And yet these passionate poissonniers, gallant grillardins, and fearless frituriers dazzle us with every dish. But, what really excites me is that they’re starting to use technology to extend your experience well past that moment you force down one last bite of your praline parfait.


The restaurants, and even the chefs themselves, are taking to social media in ways that make dining out more fruitful than ever (my fruit of choice: Banana Bread Pudding). Whether you describe their extra engagements as an updated form of customer service, or as simply an easier way to interact, the end result is just good, clean fun. Unless of course we’re talking about the Duck Confit Club with extra aioli and cracklings, which is very good but in no way clean. Who hasn’t wished they could find out what the specials are before they decide to go somewhere? Places like City Greens use their Twitter account not only to post their daily specials, but to have genuine interactions. I just can’t help but chuckle every time they say, “Thanks for gettin’ fresh with us!” (I even laughed while typing it).


I guess when it came time to sit down and think about why it’s so fun to be Tweeted at by these restaurants, I came to the conclusion that it made me feel like they were just that much more passionate about what they do. Obviously, I don’t care, nor do I even think about it, when they don’t respond. There’s really only so much good that can come out of it for the restaurant. Plus, I imagine that it’s a lot of work to constantly monitor your Twitter feed while running a restaurant. But, I think that’s what makes it special when they do choose to tweet at you. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at Chiba without receiving a tweet thanking me for coming in. The fact that any restaurant would go out of its way to share their appreciation, ask you a question, or even joke with you, shows that they don’t just care about your business — they care about your entire experience.


Sure, there are just some fun exchanges, like when Bud’s Broiler retweets your playful argument regarding the perfect order at 3:00am (obviously, it’s no contest:  #3 w/ extra cheese, cheese fries, and a strawberry milkshake). And one of my favorite parts of going to Capdeville is waiting for whatever hilarious thing they’ll tweet at me next. But, there’s also a more endearing side to tweeting to your patrons; when Commander’s Palace Head Chef, Tory McPhail, retweeted my congratulations on his winning his first James Beard award, right next to the same tweet from Emeril Lagasse, it’s just flat out cool. Here I am, Joe Schmo being given the same attention as one of Chef Tory’s most celebrated colleagues.


People aren’t simply blowing hot air when gushing over the Pampano en Papillote, they aren’t just sending random words into the Twitterverse; people are expressing their passions. There are tweets about first dates, birthdays, and third generations proposing at that same table in the name of tradition–memories are being made. By combining this relatively new technology with one of our oldest and most delicious traditions, we are able to enhance this everyday experience. As silly as it may seem, it’s just exciting to be appreciated on such an equalizing platform; the restaurant doesn’t know if you’ve saved up all year or just wandered in — this allows them to show that you’re important, no matter what.