Annie Salvatore, Founder, and CEO of City Garçon tells us how they offer a free online directory and curator service to provide dessert, coffee, and tea seekers.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded City Garçon.
Annie Salvatore: I founded City Garçon in 2020 out of personal necessity. I am a foodie at heart and a planner, so trying to get friends together for great eats in New York City has proven difficult based on the number of options. I found myself spending way too much time researching places to go – even for simple coffee meet-ups – that would meet the criteria I was looking for.
In order to solve this, I wanted to create one place for someone to be able to go to find a place to go without having to rely on “listicles” on Google, saved Instagram posts, or notes on their phone. There aren’t really any great resources out there today for dessert, coffee, and tea recommendations, so I put my focus on that niche within the industry. Thus, City Garçon was born.
Along the way, we met a lot of talented restaurant owners + bloggers, and influencers, where we saw a further opportunity. What better way to promote restaurants than connect influencers and photographers with the businesses to showcase “drool-worthy” images? A picture of a delicious-looking stack of cookies that goes viral can be the reason a shop sells out of their sweets by noon – and we want to help restaurants get to that point. We also offer “deals” to our City Garçon app users that you can’t find anywhere else. Who doesn’t like to save a couple of dollars on their snack?
How does City Garçon market its product/services online?
Annie Salvatore: We rely heavily on social media marketing to drive awareness as well as promote ourselves in the App Store and Google Play.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how did you get through it?
Annie Salvatore: The pandemic was tough on our business, as we focus on marketing restaurants, coffee shops, and dessert shops. In March of 2020, many of the businesses we work with shut down for many months, and approximately 40% closed permanently. Marketing budgets were stalled while small business owners figured out ways to keep their businesses afloat while the world grappled with something that hadn’t been anything most of us dreamed of dealing with.
To solve for the wrench this threw in our plans, we decided to focus outward and help the businesses that were already struggling free of charge. Over time, this organically ended up bringing us more customers who were interested in working with us. We also spent a lot of time researching places that closed and reworking our data to make sure we have the most up-to-date directory for our app users. Ultimately, we were able to adapt to the changed world we have found ourselves in 2+ years later and pivot our strategy a bit.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Annie Salvatore: We started getting into TikTok during the height of the pandemic and haven’t looked back! Videos outperform pictures, and we are looking to grow further in this space.