Twitter, people keep telling me, has become a vitally important tool for restaurants to keep in touch with their fans, their friends and their regulars. I follow maybe 50 different local restaurants on Twitter. 50 or 60, plus some of the bigger out-of-state operations, a few from back in Denver, and a couple chefs who have feeds of their own. I check in not religiously, but probably four or five times a week, looking specifically for restaurant news, interesting happenings, updates and what-have-you. I would maybe check a little bit more often, except for one thing.
No restaurant ever has anything interesting to say on Twitter.
Or almost never, anyway. Soups of the day, drink specials, 10% off chowder if you say the magic word, 140-character shout-outs to hot girls on the deck and wine tastings of Argentine malbecs with three seats still open, score!
I understand that this is all about community building. About keeping your name out there in a highly competitive environment and pimping up your weekly vegetarian menu offering, but still. Most of it is as dull as dirt, a constant, bandwidth-sucking recitation of autumn pumpkin soup, cask tappings and announcements for the Women's Community Dance Class that, when taken all together, read like some kind of over-plastered cork board in the hippie coffee shop. Excepting location updates by the food trucks, it's incredibly rare for any restaurant to actually use Twitter for something interesting.
Canlis will be turning 60 in December. Canlis has a Twitter feed. And as briefly mentioned in yesterday's Morning Food News, Canlis has figured a way to put those two things together and finally use Twitter in the way that its developers intended: as a way to host a high-tech, city-wide scavenger hunt with cheap lobsters as the prize.
From the folks at Canlis:
"A lot as changed since the restaurant's opening six decades ago, not the
least of which is the price of a good meal. To celebrate with the city,
Canlis is inviting Seattle to experience the restaurant's hospitality at
prices from 1950.
But there's a catch.
To order off the 1950 menu, guests will need to have one. That's where
the hunt begins..."
Every day (except Sunday), brothers Mark and Brian Canlis will be putting out a clue as to the location of one of 50 signed 1950's-era Canlis menus hidden around the city. The clues go out via the Canlis Twitter feed and Facebook page, and then all you have to do is puzzle out the clue, find the menu, bring it into Canlis before December 11, 2010 (the actual 60th birthday of the restaurant), and you can get a four-course meal for around ten bucks. We're talking a whole broiled lobster for $4, filet mignon for $4.25, marinated herring in sour cream for seventy-five cents and a Canlis salad (for two) for just $2. For you history buffs out there, you can see a copy of the entire menu from back in the day right here. It's actually a very cool document--a window into the fine dining scene from before a lot of us were born and a look at how we all used to eat when it was jacket-and-tie time.
Canlis has already given up two clues and both menus have been found. Clue #1 was simply "Squash a Beetle in your hand," and the menu was found behind the VW tire held by the Aurora bridge troll. Clue #2 was a picture, and that menu was snagged from the stacks at the Central Library.
Today's clue has yet to go up, but I know people are waiting anxiously. Hell, it's even got me checking in to Twitter a bit more often than normal.
Speaking of which, I really should go check again...
UPDATE: Today's clue has been promised to come right at noon--something I found out via Twitter.