Imagine this: two music industry guys like to eat. They like to eat so much that they become walking restaurant guides for all their friends (and their friends' friends, and their friends' girlfriends, and their girlfriends' friends). They think, Hey, we should write this stuff down somewhere. It's 2009, so they start a blog. One website, 17 Instagram accounts, and 2 million uses of #eeeeeats later, and here we are!
We're sitting at Prince Street Pizza with The Infatuation co-founder Andrew Steinthal and social media manager Nell Potter, waiting for the pepperoni slice that they made famous via Instagram. We're about to take a food tour of the neighborhood they work in, while trying to figure out how a team of eight has successfully taken over the digital food world.
"There was no voice for regular people as it pertained to restaurants and food—and, more specifically, finding restaurants for specific situations," explains Steinthal, who quit his day job in 2014 after starting The Infatuation in 2009 with Chris Stang. "Whether it was like, 'I want to impress a girl,' 'my parents are coming into town,' or 'I need something to eat near Madison Square Garden,' we wanted to be the resource the people could rely on. We wanted to talk to people in their own voice." But The Infatuation has spiraled into a community much larger than just a handful of New Yorkers looking for their next bowl of ramen.
What began as a resource for city kids looking for the perfect dinner spot, or the best morning-after bacon, egg, and cheese, has grown into an internet support group for food addicts. OK, not really—but it has taken on a whole new life on Instagram, where The Infatuation has become highly influential. Rainbow bagels? Might have been their fault. The line at Prince Street Pizza? Definitely their fault. You might not even know it, but the way you photograph your bagel was most likely inspired by an #eeeeeats post.
"Social media has been how we branded this company from day one," offers Steinthal as we discuss the bubbling community behind their brand. "When we first launched, I would spend two hours a day searching for people who were talking about Momofuku, or Joe's Pizza, or any of the restaurants that we really loved in New York, and just hop into the conversations—but now, Instagram is where everyone is the most engaged." Which is why they have 17 Instagram accounts. "I mean technically, we have 26," he mentions, casually, "but only 17 of them are updated regularly." No big deal. Just enough food to feast your eyes on for the next 75 years.
Not everyone has a foodie friend to rely on, but from your sister to your mom, almost everyone is on Instagram—and we all eat with our eyes. "Many young people don't care where a chef went to culinary school, they just want to know: is this restaurant good? Is it good for a date? Should I spend my money here?"
Hungry yet? Make sure to watch our snap story today—the @Infatuation is taking over to share all their favorite lunch spots around America. For even more food, head to theinfatuation.com.