Some of my Yelp Boston work so far!
As you may or may not know, for the past 6 months I've been working on a new content series for Yelp Boston called "Boston Born."
Similar to a couple of Boston magazine pieces I worked on, and the work I was doing in my capstone classes, I wanted to tell the stories of some of the awesome human beings behind a few of the city's coolest businesses.
Selection wasn't the difficult part. One of Lia and I's favourite activities while living here has been sussing out all the trendiest, most successful, and nicest spots in Boston. The hardest part was finding ones that weren't in our lovely little small business haven neighbourhood, the South End!
I've written 10 now, and they're slowly but surely beginning to get posted on the Yelp Blog, where we're publishing them, with some regularity. So I wanted to share the first four in the series that have published, and tease some of the upcoming features!
Oh, and despite what the "author" credit at the top of the page may say, these are all researched, written, and photographed by myself. Damien just has the login to post them.
1. Bantam Cider
As a hard cider aficionado, I'm pretty spoiled for choice living in New England. Bantam Cider has made some of my favourite blends, so to get to write about the company for our first piece was somewhat of a dream come true.
It's a women owned business, both of whom were extremely kind and generous with their time for this new series, and I'm really grateful to them. I went to Somerville to learn the story of Dana, Michelle, and their wine-like cider.
2. El Pelon Taqueria
As you may've guessed from Lia and I's trip to Mexico City earlier this year, I'm quite the fan of Mexican cuisine. El Pelon has been serving up some of the most authentic, flavourful, and spirited Mexican food in the city for close to 20 years. And the owner, Jim Hoben, is a riot.
He'll talk your ear off, but each digression is a laugh a minute. He's a wonderfully kind man who patently cares about his employees, the city of Boston, and food. So we talked a bit about that for my second piece. Then I had one of my rare taco-epiphanies. I've tried to recreate it by going back, but there's just something about the first time that you can never quite mimic.
The piece is good too though. El Pelon is More Than Just A Bald Man
3. Olives & Grace
You may remember Olives & Grace and its wonderful owner, Sofi, from the series of videos I produced, shot, and edited (and won an award for!) in my final semester. I think it was my favourite one I made. What can I say, they're a cool business and deserve the attention. There's little crossover in the content of the pieces, but the message is the same: Sofi is one of the kindest, most inspiring humans I've met.
Her effervescent personality is just as evident in the photos and story for the Yelp piece I wrote as the video, and I still take any chance I get to pop into the store, even just to say hi. Not only can you pick up some charming gifts from her well-curated collection, but she's also a champion for all the small businesses of the South End. And I think that's something worth supporting.
The title is kind of lame on this one, but here it is: Olives & Grace & Everything Nice
This one just released on Wednesday! If I had to pick a business in the city that I've done the biggest 180 on, I think the award would have to go to FoMu. As a Ben & Jerry's fiend, when I first heard of its coconut-based ice cream, I may've scoffed somewhat. There was no way that vegan ice cream could be better than the real thing. But then I tried the Blueberry Shortbread flavour, and my mind was blown.
The Blueberry Shortbread disappeared with the season, but my respect remained, and so when it came time to think of more stories, I thought the rapidly expanding FoMu (4 stores, the newest on Newbury Street, in 5 years!) would be a brilliant one. And I think it was. I'm a true believer — my friend Ian called it the "best ice cream he's ever had" just earlier this week. Best of all, the long version of this story became my Food Reporting class final, the video I used for my capstone, and the short version and photos I used for Yelp. Work smarter, not harder, my friends.
Those are all the pieces that have so far been published! We're now on a fortnightly publishing schedule, so the releases should begin to stack up a little more as I focus on getting as many ready over the summer before I leave for Seattle. It's great to finally see the work out in the world. It's also fun to watch my photography improve as I learn how to use my camera...
Here are a few teases of some pieces I've written that will be released shortly...
Wheelhouse: The above photo is from local fast-casual burger spot, Wheelhouse. It's located in the Financial District, and one of chef Jon Chase's burgers won Boston magazine's Starch Madness bracket earlier this year. The hype is real, and deserved. I just wrote and shot this piece this week, and I'm pretty bloody pleased with the above photo.
Tracksmith: About a month ago, I wandered into a new store I'd never seen before on Newbury Street, and it put every other sports store I've ever been in to shame. Tracksmith's space was like a Harvard Finals club played host to a dry-fit, varsity orgy. It was astonishingly beautiful. I had to know more. So I wrote a piece about the company putting culture back in running.
Mei Mei: Food truck success stories are really cool, as they show the triumph of great concepts, ideas, and innovators over vast reserves of cash. They're also mad difficult to cook out of, so when they get the chance to jump to brick and mortar restaurants, it's fun to watch the physical manifestation of what has been — up to that point — a meal on wheels. After winning a Best of Boston food truck award, Mei Mei opened in Fenway a few years ago, and the siblings behind it have since gone somewhat separate ways, but the restaurant, story, and most importantly, food is still great
Tribe Barber: Van is no stranger on this blog, but I convinced Damien to let me write about him even though his own company is still very young. There's something about barber shops that just sets my creativity alight — especially one in as aesthetically pleasing a space as his. I don't know if it's the artistry of cutting hair, the unique situation, or the classically masculine style component. But my interview with Van is one of my favourites I've had the chance to do, and I can't wait for that piece to run.
Those are some of the pieces I'm most excited to share when they come out, but I'm proud of all of them that I've worked on, and very grateful to each of the businesses I've worked with for their time, vision, and most of all their patience while we've taken our sweet time to get these pieces on a regular publication schedule. I hope they'll think it was worth the wait.
I've had the chance to meet some amazing people while writing these, and it's really helped me feel even more in sync with the pulse of this city. Can't wait to share more.