Birds of the same feather flock together, goes the saying. And that’s exactly the reason why the EAT group on Facebook has become a huge hit among the foodie crowd in Trivandrum. Started by Arvind Soju, an IT professional working in Pune, for the love of food and inspired by the ‘Pune Eat Outs’ food group on Facebook, the Eat At Trivandrum, more popularly known as EAT, group has been the most sought after group among the food lovers in Trivandrum in the last one year. Conceptualized and started in the October of 2015, the idea of EAT, as per Arvind, was to have something good for the food lovers in Trivandrum, that would have a positive impact both on the customers and the restaurants.
The initial members of the group were Arvind’s friends who then added their food enthusiast friends, and now, this foodie group stands in a position where there is no looking back. It took almost a year to gain momentum, a year of patiently waiting to see the group would flourish, where it took so much effort on Arvind’s part to keep the group going by posting about food and restaurants in Trivandrum, pointers on what he expected from the group and likewise. Now, at 33,000 members and counting, the group receives around 400-500 requests a day and the group has definitely had an impact on the food scene in Trivandrum, especially the relation between the restaurants and the customers, that has improved drastically, with the restaurants being more open to positive feedback and eager to improvise based on the customer feedback, and the Trivandrum crowd being equally enthusiastic about the food and restaurant options. The main protocol while screening requests, is to accept requests only from people who are associated with Trivandrum, adds Aslam, one of the moderators.
As the group expanded, Arvind, through the group, came across three likeminded people – Vinay, Aslam and Anjana – who shared his same passion for food, who, currently, along with him, works as the moderators for the group. Between them, they work relentlessly to ensure that the group is free from spam by making sure that every post gets their attention and if a post is against the group’s policies or is offensive in nature, then the particular member would be messaged to modify the post, failing which it will be deleted. There are also certain unwritten guidelines, ones that have evolved through continuous support of the patrons, that are followed to keep up the spirit of the group, mentions Vinay.
The success of EAT is because of the active participation of the group members. Also, Vinay adds, “EAT has also been significant in finding hidden reviewers in each of its members. So far, this group has also been successful in conducting two food meets, more popularly known as EATup, for the members of the group, with the third one scheduled for the 9th of April at Slice of Spice.” While the 1st EATup, conducted at 1976 and saw 15 members, the second one, conducted at Imperial Kitchen, was a huge hit with 100 members. The numbers are expected to go further up for the 3rd meet-up, which would for the first time, have online coupons up for grabs. The team intends to conduct these food meet-ups every fourth month. So far, the team has been approaching the restaurants to tie up with them to conduct these meet ups, however, Arvind is of the hope that soon the tables would turn and the restaurants would start approaching the group for hosting these meet-ups.
Being a foodie, it is always a pleasure being a part with this group, says all three of the moderators unanimously. If the moderators are happy about working as a group to keep up the quality work that they are doing, the group members too are happy with the perks and discounts that come their way, every now and then, from restaurants. A few restaurants offer discounts and attractive offers to the members of the group, which has been quite a hit amongst the members. Now, EAT serves as a brilliant platform for healthy interaction between customers and restaurant owners, for sharing criticisms, opinions and ideas about food, and in general, for everything related to the food culture in Trivandrum, says Anjana.
There are a lot of exciting plans ahead to promote the group and at the same time maintaining the same quality interaction that it boasts of now, the most interesting one being to bring out loyalty cards for the members which would get them special privileges and discounts at restaurants. The future indeed looks to be very promising for this bunch of guys, who are enthusiastic and determined to make the group a huge success amongst the food crowd in Trivandrum.