Scrolling through TikTok in September, I saw an increasing number of “What I eat at Din Tai FungTheme videos across “A Page for You”, in which the creators demonstrate everything they were addicted to until the last exaggerated bite. #dintaifung The hashtag on TikTok only.

So I finally went on a trip to Din Tai Fong, an incredibly popular Taiwanese chain for soup and noodle dumplings with its only location in Northern California within the Tony Westfield Mall in Santa Clara. Inside, the illuminated signs of Bath & Body Works and Build-A-Bear led me to the dumbbell icon, which has 13 seats across the west. I placed my order for takeout and waited an hour; The restaurant staff confirmed that the increased waiting time and the increase in customers over the weekend seemed to be a direct result of TikTok.

Din Tai Fung’s success at TikTok is a viral moment that illustrates the sweeping popularity of in-app food trends, including Emily Mariko A bowl of salmon and rice, Pickled garlic, And Southern spicy bowls. Of course, Din Tai Fung is a large restaurant group that is already incredibly popular, but its presence on TikTok is a prime example of a viral moment – in which TikTok not only captures one video that captures thousands or millions of views, but also inspires a replicated meme in other videos, using In the same tone – can grow into a trend that reaches millions of new potential customers.

Although not as massive as Din Tai Fung, other small food businesses in the Gulf region have recognized the power of the short video app, among other platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

The Abu Salim Middle Eastern Grill in San Francisco is known for its fresh falafel, confit and laden shawarma plates – as well as advertising some mesmerizing chickpeas on TikTok. Salim Nasser, the 24-year-old co-owner, previously worked at his father’s famed Old Jerusalem restaurant. TikTok has been something he has wanted to pursue since acquiring his own business, although he was required to persuade his business partner Khalil Sihard, who is almost twice Nasser’s age, to agree to advertise on the app. Aside from strengthening the business to new customers, Nasser felt an urge to create content that he strongly believes in the aesthetic quality of his food.

“There’s so much to photograph. I actually have the backing to show that it’s not that we use frozen food, canned food,” says Nasser. “I mean, I’ve noticed a lot of videos on TikTok that get a lot of views, and I’m just looking at my food, and [it] It looks better. ”

He is right. The richness of Nasser’s food contains a powerful visual punch, with close-ups of fresh chickpeas mixed with vibrant parsley, fragrant paprika and a stock of olive oil. His TikTok serves as a virtual tasting menu, so much so that Nasser can determine if someone visited the restaurant after watching TikTok if his order matched his last post.

Nasser has taken advantage of the platform but is having a hard time finding the time to advertise consistently while running a restaurant. Although mostly short, with the platform’s longest videos lasting three minutes, TikTok can be time consuming; Planning, photographing and editing content is often an impossible task for small restaurant owners who already run their own factories. But for Nassar, time, effort and a phone camera can pay off: it estimates an overall 30 percent increase in sales every time it posts a video on the platform, and triples the sales of the specific item on the menu.

Nirvana Soul is a popular San Jose coffee shop offering creative rounds on classic beverages like Sweet Potato Pie Latte and Teamosa (a sparkling tea drink with pineapple mimosa tea and hints of peach), as well as a selection of waffles, including churo and bacon-chi variations Dr. This is a black woman-owned cafe founded by sisters Be’Anka Ashaolu and Geronica Macy; Eshaulo has shifted her skills as vice president of marketing at technology company Propel to grow the brand. Nirvana Soul has started to increase its online community through Instagram For two years before it opened in 2020, his account now boasts nearly 14,000 followers. The cafe does not have its own TikTok account because according to Ashulo, the duo “just tried to run a business, so learning a whole new tool was not a priority”. Regardless, TikTok found them.

“We knew we were getting a lot of user – generated content,” says Ashulo. “Our customers are super creative, and they create in all the different channels.”

I discovered the cafe from a TikTok user FoodWithSoy (813,000 followers), a food and culture creator based on SoCal, which included Nirvana Sol in A series of videos Highlighting restaurants during a trip in the Bay Area (up to 260,000 views). Nirvana Sol’s bright and open showcase feels like a tropical paradise augmented by pink accents and murals, making it the perfect setting to capture its unique drinks. “We wanted it to be an especially inspiring space for creators, believers, artists and all of us. So I think when someone enters that space, which he creates in TikTok or another, he deserves a lot of material,” says Ashulo. Because Nirvana Sol is a black-owned coffee business that is less represented in San Jose, it also helped bolster the brand with consumers who wanted to support Saulo and Macy, in their store, and in their mission to use “the power of coffee and tea to bring people together,” the store said.

Like Abu Salim, Nirvana Sol needs to keep up with the demand after sharing a particular menu item on social media. “I have to consult our baristas before I advertise all of our drinks, because all I advertise is usually the thing we sell today,” she says. Their last drink sold was Serotonin Sunrise – a sparkling blend of jasmine, peach and raspberry tea – when they ran out of tea. Ashaolu notes that most of the sales generated on social media still come from Instagram; But more and more, creators will simultaneously post TikTok videos on their Instagram as maximum reach reels, and the FoodWithSoy video gained 45,000 views on TikTok among 30 other user-created videos, which powdered and expanded Nirvana Soul’s reach.

Rae’s Got Cakes is a popular bakery in Auckland, known for its “tiny mascara” cake jars and sophisticated cake decorations (like this one). Thanos hand ring Inspired by the Marvel Comics Hero). It’s also a small business owned by a black woman led by baker Ray Harris, who happened to have a viral moment. Alexis Frost, known by her username Mrs. Frost, Shared Rae’s Got Cakes TikTok review of Tiny Tush cake jars after purchasing several flavors at Night Market 626 To its followers base of more than 2 million. Harris noticed an immediate jump in orders. “I had to go find this video, and I thought that’s where all these invitations come from. I saw the effect even before I saw the video,” she says. The video garnered 241,000 views, which resulted in Harris selling 82 more jars than usual – a sales increase of about 68.

According to Harris, the increase in business was welcome, but because of TikTok’s rapid algorithm, it only lasted a week. “That’s kind of the downside of TikTok. It’s like the algorithm flips so fast, and you miss that opportunity a bit. You have to wait for the next, viral video,” she says. At that time of waiting, Harris – who was already an avid TikTok creator who mostly created cosplay videos on a personal account – decided to create Rae’s Got Cakes Page TikTok Especially for its food business. “It’s been great to get orders in the meantime, but because [Ms. Frost] There was no business page to tag, “she says.” I did not manage to reap the benefits of gaining followers. “The Rae’s Got Cakes business account currently has only 58 followers, however, With its quality cake content, Seems to be ripe for growth.

TikTok is an unexpected landscape where the most random trends set off; There is no way to know what the next trend will be (frozen honey, anyone?). The algorithm tends to bode well for large networks, like Din Tai Pong, Popeye, Starbucks, And Dankin, Many of which have their own accounts, but also ride a wave of user-generated content. Aside from algorithms, the leading influencers in the Bay Area in the app love Tim Chong, Paul Arihara, Age items, Mario, And Rob Willis Consistently drive crowds to local restaurants, though sometimes influencers get free food or pay for advertising, which benefits businesses with more marketing dollars. Also, popular places in the bay area like Sticks and Doll guys Use the app to reach a wider customer base, while expanding content beyond food to include camouflage from staff members who highlight their personalities.

For Harris, the very fast algorithm is also forgiving for new creators who dive into space; Viral moment or not, it encourages small business business owners to put themselves out there. “Go up on screen in front of people and let people know you exist. It doesn’t have to be the most glorious or the most edited or like a super cool video,” she says. “If people see your product and they say ‘hey, it looks great’, they’ll click, they’ll click on the link in the biography and they’ll finally get to your site.”

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