Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'? An Interview with Co-Creator Alisa Bay

A Community of Support for Local Restaurants Blooms with Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'? Created by Alisa Bay and Mary Manning
A Community of Support for Local Restaurants Blooms with Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'? Created by Alisa Bay and Mary Manning 

While times have been challenging, engaging and supportive community efforts have been springing up helping navigate these unusual waters. Alisa Bay and Marcy Manning recently created the Facebook Group Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin' ? and the group has really taken off to become a positive spot where we all can share our favorite local restaurants and enjoy a little comradery. Recently, I interviewed Alisa for a little background on how this engaging group got started. Learn a little more about Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'? and why you should check it out:


Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'? Created by Alisa Bay and Mary Manning welcomes 3,000 members in 3 weeks
Image Credit Alisa Bay.
What was the inspiration for starting Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'?

My co-admin (Marcy Manning) and I have a lot of friends in the restaurant business. We also handle PR and marketing for several local restaurants. And, my husband owns Love's Yogurt. With the stay-at-home order in place, we saw, first-hand, the many challenges that restaurant owners were facing. They were genuinely concerned with how the Governor's order would affect their business and some were fearful that they might need to close.

We created the Facebook group with two goals in mind. The first was to help restaurant owners promote their businesses by giving them a place to share their news, their menus, their special offers, etc. And, the second, was to give the community a place to show their support for their favorite restaurants, while sharing their positive experiences. Ultimately, we wanted to do something to help the local restaurants stay afloat during these uncertain times. We hope it's working!

Marcy and Alisa the creators of Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'?
Marcy and Alisa the creators of Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin? Image credit Alisa Bay.
How has the community been using this new group?

When we first launched, we weren't sure what to expect. Almost immediately, restaurants began posting their specials and the community began posting photos of the food they were ordering. The photos would then prompt other members to comment on the pictures and then post their own photos. It's been really fun to see what people are ordering and from where. Members are also asking each other for recommendations, which is really cool.

Mesa Urbana Salmon Al Carbon - Grilled Salmon, Mango, Papaya and Avocado Puree
Mesa Urbana Salmon Al Carbon - Grilled Salmon, Mango, Papaya and Avocado Puree

Is there anything that has surprised you about the group?

Well, the first thing that surprised both Marcy and me is how quickly the group has grown. In less than 3 weeks, we've gone from two members (just us) to 3000! Neither of us expected this kind of immediate reaction. We're excited that the community has jumped on board, and, like us, wants to support local restaurants.


Popular Meal Deal from Backyard Grill Highland Park and Grill House Northbrook - Chicken Trio Meal Deal

Why do you think it is important to have this type of connection?

Now more than ever we all need to be there for each other and support one another. This group is connecting restaurant owners with the public and giving them an opportunity to share their passion and hopefully grow their customer base. It's wonderful to see restaurant owners engaged with group members - commenting on photos and answering questions - and it's equally exciting to see the way that members are communicating with one another and rallying around their favorite restaurants. We are building a wonderful, supportive community that I hope lasts for years to come.

The Palm Court's Bone in Rib Eye.
The Palm Court's Bone in Rib Eye.

Where are the restaurants located?

When we created the group, our intention was to keep it localized to restaurants on the North Shore. But, with everything going on and so many restaurants outside of the North Shore needing help and support, we haven't been super strict about enforcing the North Shore location. I'd say 80% are North Shore-based restaurants and the others are from the surrounding areas - Vernon Hills, Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg - even Grayslake. There are also some restaurants from Chicago that have joined, for those in our group who might want to take a road-trip for their carry-out or curbside.

Sassy Sweets Bake Shop - Basket of Cookies image credit Alisa Bay
Sassy Sweets Bake Shop - Basket of Cookies


What is your favorite part of Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'?

My favorite part is knowing (or at least hoping) that this group is helping restaurant owners in a time of need.

Thank you so much to Alisa for this wonderful interview and insight about Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'? This group is so much fun and a fabulous way for the community to support local restaurants while sharing ideas. Head on over and check out Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'? on Facebook. You will enjoy it and find some new local restaurants to try out!

**Disclosure: No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own and those of the interviewee.

Chicago North Shore Restaurants - What's Cookin'? An Interview with Co-Creator Alisa Bay


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