We talked to Annie Salvatore of City Garçon on where to find the Best Hot Chocolate in NYC and she had the following to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Annie Salvatore: We have been extremely lucky and have managed to stay healthy and safe. Our hearts go out to the millions who have been affected negatively by this.
Tell us about you, your career, 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.
To solve for this, I wanted to create one place for someone to go to find a place to go without having to rely on “listicles” on Google, saved Instagram posts, or notes in their phone. There isn’t really any great resources out there today for dessert, coffee, and tea recommendations, so I put my focus into 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 innovate?
Annie Salvatore: We are constantly looking at new ways to grow our brand and continue to offer solutions to new and changing problems. Customer feedback is something we take very seriously. Without listening to what people want and evolving to meet that, your business is dead.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Annie Salvatore: COVID-19 has been devastating to the restaurant industry. We estimate approximately ~30% of the shops we showcase in the New York City area have closed since the virus hit the United States in March. We will need to work hard to keep up with the changing landscape to ensure our data is accurate, so we are best serving our users.
We are continuing to offer a helping hand to any restaurant or small business that needs it. We have provided free marketing services in the form of our newsletters and social media posts + listing deals for shops to help them get more customers in the door.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Annie Salvatore: We needed to pivot our strategy a bit as a result of COVID-19. Margins for restaurants are already tight, which means marketing budgets aren’t always huge. We needed to think strategically about how we can grow and continue to thrive as a business while keeping our service offerings reasonably priced for our consumers. A takeaway from this is always to be ready to pivot and change with an ever-evolving landscape. Being agile is the key to success.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Annie Salvatore: I do a lot of yoga, which definitely helps with stress. Making sure to take some time every day to move helps me stay on track both mentally and physically.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Annie Salvatore: Google Places and Yelp are probably our biggest competitors out there right now. We are very focused on our niche and plan to continue to hone on that, where Google and Yelp are more broad in what they tackle. We plan to remain subject matter experts in our niche and have some really cool things coming up for our fellow foodies. Stay tuned!
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