TikTok influencers are changing the fates of NYC restaurants

A little virality can mean a lot of new customers, restaurateurs are learning. 

A corner of TikTok has become something like the social media video equivalent of the revered Zagat Survey, with influencers highlighting their favorite NYC eateries — and causing some serious results. 

“We went viral on TikTok,” Fanerra Dupree, owner of Brooklyn’s Black Nile restaurant, told Crain’s of a recent uptick in business at the soul food joint. “A blogger came in and ate our food and did a video. We didn’t know until people started coming in.”

A clip of Black Nile’s crab-smothered fried chicken has so far racked up over 390,000 views, cementing the dish as a too-popular-to-remove option on the restaurant’s menu. 

In addition to bringing patrons to restaurants, local food review videos have also become an enviable niche for influencers, who are gaining large followings by posting the clips. Queens real estate broker Mike Schulte has garnered a following of more than 235,000 followers on the platform by focusing his account on recommending and rating the best things to eat and do around the boroughs. 

While Permele Doyle, the founder of influencer marketing agency Billion Dollar Boy, told Crain’s that businesses will often partner with TikTok influencers in exchange for money or free food, Schulte told the publication that his reviews have to be honest — otherwise, locals will call him out. 

“If you say the place on the corner is great and it’s not, you can bet the people in that neighborhood will check you and say ‘Nah,’” Schulte said. 

The new form of promotion may be incentivizing restaurants to have more photogenic decor and menu items, as influencers say those are what make review clips the most likely to go viral. 

What makes someone want to go to a restaurant, viral NYC TikTok influencer Janneh Konneh told Crain’s, is that it “is either going to be something special on the menu or in the aesthetic of the restaurant.”

To back that up, Crain’s notes that one of her most-viewed posts was about the “adult Capri Suns” at the West Village restaurant Sveta — which will reward you with a free refill if you post about it on social media. 

Going viral on TikTok, eatery owners are quickly learning, can be a great way to bring in new customers.


New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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