The Social Network: John Howie Lifts a Trick From the Canlis Brothers

Something tells me this is not what Mark Zuckerberg (or Jesse Eisenberg) had in mind . . .
It seems that I have been writing an awful lot lately about Facebook, Twitter, and other digital stunts and gimmicks being pulled by restaurants in order to gin up a little extra support in the community. This whole social-networking thing? It's still a brave new world for a lot of restaurateurs; unsurprisingly, some are using it well and some are . . . well, copying those who are using it well.

Case in point: A while back, I wrote all about Canlis using the power of the internets to host a massive, city-wide scavenger hunt complete with clues and cool prizes (namely, cheap lobsters). In honor of the restaurant's 60th birthday, a number of 1950's-era menus were hidden around town and, every day, clues about their location were given via Facebook and Twitter . Anyone who found a menu got to order from it--and pay the 1950's prices. It was a cool little promotion, getting Canlis lots of press and probably doing more to vault it into the 21st century than any thousand adjustments to the actual menu, staff, or space.

Well, now, it looks as if someone else wants to get in on the game. Enter John Howie Steak.

"John Howie," the press release began, "wants to clue you in on a little bit of fun that he has planned to spice up your weekday work day - the Downtown Bellevue Howie Hunt. Always competitive - a man who loves a baseball game as much as a board game, Chef Howie, in conjunction with the Downtown Bellevue Network, has put together a treasure hunt with big stakes (well, make that big steaks) as prizes which will also make winners Star-y (as in Seastar) eyed."

Unusual punctuation choices and tortured prose aside, this was the pitch for the Howie Hunt: another scavenger hunt in which four toy cows or four toy starfish will be hidden somewhere in the city of Bellevue every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for two weeks (starting two days ago). Clues as to the whereabouts of said tchotchkes will be provided via John Howie's Facebook page and Twitter feed (sound familiar?), and those who find the cows or starfish will be able to redeem them for a free lunch of steak frites (at John Howie Steak) or grilled salmon (at Seastar). Which is nice and all, sure. But it ain't exactly a $4 lobster, know what I mean?

The game is going on right now, and will pick up again on Tuesday next week. All cows and/or starfish must be redeemed by March 31, and each player is limited to only one cow or starfish during the promotion. So, you know, if you've got nothing else to do with your lunch hour . . .

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