GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids man used social media hoping to find new dining recommendations, and what started out as just a few spots has now grown to several hundred.
It’s gaining more traction at a time when local restaurants could really use the support.
“I cook about once a day, but I eat out a lot more than I should,” said Fess Parker.
Like a lot of us, Parker is used to eating fast food. It’s convenient, quick and cheap. But it’s hard telling where the profits end up.
“I started thinking about where my money was really going and the impact that I could have if I tried to keep that money within the community,” he said.
That’s when Parker went online and found the Grand Rapids page on Reddit. The social media site allows users to post pictures, links and questions about their communities.
Parker asked people about locally owned restaurants and their top dishes, hoping to support mom-and-pops especially during the pandemic.
“I guess they don’t have as much wiggle room as some of the larger corporations in terms of what they need to be bringing in, in order to be profitable and stay in business,” he said.
The responses quickly added up.
“I kinda compiled this onto a list just myself on my phone for my own reference, you know, but then I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to ever realistically eat at all of those places.”
Parker thought it was selfish to keep the tips to himself, so he put the comments and suggestions to use helping others.
He creating this Google spreadsheet that people can edit. You can search by types of food like Mexican, Asian or pizza. There’s even a list of locations, websites, hours and recommended dishes.
“I can’t say I’ve had much Indian, and looking at their menu doesn’t really make much sense to me, so definitely having a little bit of guidance of where to be looking and what’s kind of a safe thing to go off of,” he said.
He also created this map that’s color coded based on the menu.
You can see which spots are right near you or how far you have to drive to try something different.
Whichever spot you pick, it’s nice to know your money is staying local.
“When you’re giving your money to Taco Bell and McDonald’s, who knows where that dollar finally ends up,” he said.