Hosted by Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn P. Walchef, and presented by Entrepreneur Media, and Yelp, the “Restaurant Influencers” video podcast series creates a forum to help restaurant and hospitality businesses share the ups and downs of online success. Each episode follows the same format, 20-30 minutes of learning that helps the audience understand how people are generating buzz on social media, what resonates, and how they’ve established and grown their brand by embracing the opportunity to be an influencer.
We spoke with Shawn to discuss the podcast’s mission and why it’s so important that businesses engage online.
How did Restaurant Influencers come about?
Cali BBQ Media has been producing a weekly podcast since 2017. Early on we saw the immense value in smartphone storytelling. Our media team has enjoyed featuring the expertise of chefs, restaurateurs, marketers and digital hospitality specialists with the goal of helping other business owners grow their business.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, our business doubled down on creating digital content and developing media partnerships. We knew we wanted to help as many other people accomplish what we did when we transformed into Cali BBQ Media. So we teamed up with Yelp and Entrepreneur to create “Restaurant Influencers,” which focuses on useful stories and lessons that restaurant owners and other entrepreneurs can learn from to help their business find audiences online.
The podcast offers great advice and yet keeps it simple, how did you decide on this format?
With our second podcast “Restaurant Influencers” we wanted to niche down into the restaurant business because we see an immense need to help the industry adapt to the modern digital era. Our other podcast is “Digital Hospitality,” which is more of a longform discussion with diverse guests about many different topics including self-help, the media business, and sports entertainment.
Both shows are important to us because by producing more audio, video, and written content, we’re able to reach so many new people from all over the world with our story-driven content.
Turning the tables, you’ve really built an impressive online influence so I’d love to ask you a few of the same questions from your podcast. How did you do it?
On our show we like to say “Stay Curious. Get Involved. Ask for Help.” To us, that’s the secret to everything. Staying curious means being willing to always learn and grow. When I wanted my restaurant to become a media company I had to do a lot of research and consult with experts to learn the best approach and strategies. Then it was time to get involved by actually making a show. Our very first podcast, Behind the Smoke: BBQ War Stories, which stopped production in 2019, gave us the ability to become our own media company and our brand a voice. Podcasting became the North Star of our marketing efforts — something to base our efforts around and build consistency in our content flow. That audio show turned into a video podcast called Digital Hospitality and from there we started doing more and more audio and video storytelling. I couldn’t have done it without asking for help and building a talented team of digital hospitality specialists and smartphone storytellers.
When did you really see your influence start to grow?
When I started to turn the cell phone camera on myself and post about our story on social media was when I really saw the power of digital content. We’ve seen even more growth and engagement when we branched out into other forms of digital publishing, like podcasting and going all-in on short-form video to continue broadcasting our story to new audiences.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired every day because I’m always around amazing people online and offline. I couldn’t ask for a better crew of inspiring people at Cali BBQ Media, from our restaurant staff to my media team. Everyone is so incredibly dedicated to our mission. First and foremost, it’s my family that inspires me every day to always be improving and always be growing.
What do you hope listeners do after listening?
By watching or listening to our shows, our audience is already staying curious. The next step is to get involved by reaching out to me on social media @shawnpwalchef @calibbq @calibbqmedia or anywhere you want to get in touch with our Cali BBQ Media team. We are always available to answer questions or help however we can!
What’s been your favorite episode so far? What’s coming up?
I loved our first episode with Sam The Cooking Guy because he epitomizes smartphone storytelling in the hospitality business. He’s a YouTube star with millions of subscribers and a growing restaurant empire. By learning from how he shares his story online, hospitality business owners can add new streams of revenue to their profit and loss statements. Restaurant owners already have influence in real life. His episode teaches how to create influence globally online. Plus he’s a great person and really entertaining.
We’re really looking forward to our interview with Toast CEO Chris Comparato who is leading one of the most exciting companies in the world. Toast is our primary technology partner at Cali BBQ and our first sponsor of Restaurant Influencers. They are big supporters of what we’re building at Cali BBQ Media.
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