Deciding what to make for dinner is always a little tough in my house because when I look out my kitchen window I can see Dora’s Mexican Restaurant (formerly Los Cabos; new name, same folks). So tempting. It’s the first time in my life I can remember being a regular somewhere (OK, growing up the waitress at Pizza Hut knew us, but that was my parents, not me personally).
Since we’re in there all the time (they’ll often start cooking Lexi’s quesadilla when we walk in) we know the owner, Dora, and I’ve talked with her a bit over the past nine months or so as the economy has tanked. Like many small businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, business has been hurting. I know a little bit about online marketing and social networking, and I thought maybe I could help.
So long story short, Dora’s became a Monkey Outta Nowhere client. Today we launched EatAtDoras.com, as well as an accompanying Twitter feed (@EatAtDoras) and a Facebook page. It’s all extremely basic and low budget. We’re talking shoestrings here people. The plan is to post daily lunch and dinner specials to Twitter, which will also push to the web site and Facebook, as well as coupons, special offers and fun updates (I hear rumors about a salsa bar). The site still has additions and tweaks coming (Espanol, a menu, etc.), but the plan is the epitome of fast and simple. When I mentioned the site on Twitter today someone even asked if the CSS file wasn’t loading properly. CSS?! Ha! We don’t need no stinkin’ CSS. (I actually coded the site by hand, something I haven’t done in a decade. True story.)
It’s an interesting experience helping someone who’s not even online get their business online. I don’t know how this effort will turn out for Dora’s, we’ll have to see. But for me it feels like a challenge to social media. Can some very bare bones social media efforts paired with the marketing standby of a good deal make a difference for Dora’s bottom line? We’ll see.
But even more so than the test scenario, I love helping out a neighbor. Because for Dora’s this isn’t just some test. She’s got bills to pay. You don’t know how cool it is to have a local restaurant you love within walking distance until you consider losing it. So if you’re in the Twin Cities, I hope you’ll give Dora’s a try. And wherever you are, I hope you’ll support local businesses. They could use your help, whether that’s simple patronage or spreading the word. If you like something, tell your friends. It seems ridiculously simple, but it makes a big difference to people like Dora.