Anything goes in the blogosphere these days, where an estimated 50,000,000 blogs worldwide-you read that right-spew forth a torrent of online opinion 24 hours a day. There's so much to sift through it seems unlikely that anyone would happen across a blog about a small restaurant that was opening in Nashville. The odds would be even worse that any of that blog's readers would bother to check out the place on its opening day. Yet 50 of them did.
The turnout caught the 43-year-old Reams by surprise. He kicked off his blog (http://mothershipbbq.blogspot.com) on June 7 and opened the doors of his 28-seat restaurant three days later. He was surprised his modest blogging efforts created so much positive word-of-mouth advertising so fast.
This is what Reams posted after opening day:
"Thanks to everyone who came in on Saturday. We had about 50 customers, which is a little better than I expected. Everyone was here because of the Nashville blogging community. Everyone was very friendly and supportive. I appreciate all your business. I got here at 7 this morning and I have sixteen shoulders on the smoker. We open again today at 11, and hopefully we'll start to get some of the Berry Hill lunch crowd. The staff and I are figuring out procedures, so we're glad to take it slow and easy. However, I've shelled out a small fortune to get this place open, and I need to get it back, so tell anyone within lunch distance of Berry Hill to come in and give us a try. I'm exhausted."
Six weeks later, the restaurant is going strong, helped along mightily by blog watchers who work for news outlets. Here's how Reams put it on July 23:
"We have gotten a lot of press in the six or so weeks we've been open here at the Mothership. There is an article coming out on Monday about blogging and BBQ in the City Paper, which means All the Rage, The Tennessean, The Nashville Scene, Channel 2 and The City Paper have all covered the Mothership in the first month-and-a-half of business. That is great stuff. Back when I was in the PR and marketing business, I couldn't have dreamed of getting this kind of coverage." There's more: A write-up of the Mothership BBQ will appear soon in The Washington Post.
It's a lot of ink for a modest operation. The Mothership BBQ menu is short and sweet: Pulled pork ($6), ribs ($9) or a combination of the two ($7.50). Patrons choose two sides from among three options: potato salad, cole slaw and beans, all made on site. Drinks-fountain Cokes, tea and bottled water-go for $1.
"When I started up, there was no strategy," Reams told City Paper. "Once I decided to open, my postings become more strategic.
"I don't really have a business model, because this is a new medium," he adds. "I'm winging it a lot because there is no case study specifically on blogging to get business to a new barbecue joint."
Maybe there doesn't need to be one. If you're the designated publicity-getter for your restaurant, and if your budget is zero, Reams has already demonstrated what blogging can do for you.
Addendum: Not familiar with blogs and blogging? Here's a definition from Wikipedia.com.
"A weblog, which is usually shortened to blog, is a type of website where entries are made (such as in a journal or diary), displayed in a reverse chronological order. Blogs often provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. Most blogs are primarily textual, although many focus on photographs, videos or audio. The word blog can also be used as a verb, meaning adding an entry to a blog."