Thursday, June 22, 2006

River City Reviews

I have noticed over the last several months that Montgomery has no website dedicated to the review of local eating establishments and entertainment. In my frustration, I decided to create a blog titled River City Reviews, which is to be used exclusively for the review of local food, movies, theatre, and music.

The site url is:

I emailed some key folks at WSFA and the Montgomery Advertiser to tell them they're welcome to use my reviews as long as they link to my page. I have just started and would really appreciate any links or on-air plugs they could give the site. At the moment, it's merely a fun, personal undertaking. But, over time, I hope that River City Reviews will become the go-to source for all things fun and enjoyable in Montgomery!


Jamison said...

I like it, though I would keep the revies souly on dining, and not the zoo or your book, just so it is a focused niche market.

Also, the wife and I have eaten at many a resturant in our day as well, if you want any reviews from me to fill up space, let me know! Would be glad to add to the content

bigsip said...

Ah, I see...

They need more for other entertainment, but the focus might be good.

I'll remove the book thing.

I might open it up for other reviews later, but I'll have it open just for me for the moment.

Jamison said...

well, other than the zoo, what would you review for entertainment? The shakes. park, the art museum and a movie theatre?

Also, if it were me, I would only focus on local flare resturants, not chain resturants. That was prob your idea anyway, but just letting you know that great minds think alike.

FYI, I like the little map on the blog home page, whoever put it there, tis kewl.

bigsip said...

I'm pretty sure Brew did it.

I like it now that it's the right size.

I'll review local flare stuff.

I want to review movies, theatre (Shakes, Faulkner, etc.), There's the orchestra, ballet, etc. too...

There's a lot going on in Montgomery.

You do have a great mind, my friend!

Brewster said...

Very cool. A few suggestions.

Clean up the look. Right now it looks pretty cheap. Get Jamison to do you a banner with a very recognizable picture of montgomery in it.

Are those your google ads? Clean them up. The one at the top looks rotten.

Change your profile. Tell people why they should trust your opinions. Talk about how long you've lived in the city how Montgomery is the city of dreams etc.

Kill the small posts. You have one that is basically a link to tourist office and a promise for another link soon. Put the links in the sidebar and shut up about them.

Speaking of links find lots more. Lots of links make a site feel better. Find places to link to you.

Edit edit edit. THe reviews are good, but clean them up, I write everything in a word processor for quick spelling/grammar checks. Reread them multiple times copy simple errors and to get better copy. Treat each post like a mini book. You don't just toss off your books do you? Make sure yours posts are all awesome.

I would hold off on buggin people like the advertiser or tv stations just yet. Get more copy first. Right now if any of them looked they probably shrugged their shoulders. But develop lots of content, make your site look awesome and they'll be interested.

When you review something send it to the place. Give the zoo your review, and that restraunt. They'll love the free advertising, and they might even put your review up, giving you the advertising back.

Don't just do positive reviews. You won't look like a critic, but an ad agency. Did you have bad service the last time you went out? Nail em on it.

Man, I really dig this idea. It could be HUGE. So take all thise bloody advice not as a negative, but from a guy who wants you to succeeed.

Oh yes, and make braly write for you.

bigsip said...


EXCELLENT advice, Brew!

I've just begun, but I plan to make it better as I go along.

I'll open it up for Jamiosn and Rachel, too.

I think if we get some good reviews going, we could really make this a sweet site!

kermitgrn said...

Sounds great...I have some advice to add to Brew's.

I'm not sure how much control you have over the look and feel, but the design looks a bit tight. If you can add some space between the reveiws and the right column, that would help.

It sounds like you are planning on including Pratville, Millbrook, and Wetumpka in the mix, but you did not say so explicitly. Someone googling might not come to your site because you don't mention those locations in type.

I like how you are including links in the articles where possible...keep it up.

Oh and the more you write, the more likely to get a free meal from the deal.

Where's Mullinz lately? Like I should talk.

bigsip said...

Thanks, Chuck!

Yeah, I just started it yesterday. But, as I have time I plan to get it looking better.

I really would like to get Rachel and Jamison to help me a little with the design aspects since they will probably be involved.

I actually got the idea from the Writer's Digest Forum.

A food critic on there said a local Albuquerque blogger had begun a food critique blog and beat her out of a column for their major newspapaer.

So, I figured, whay can't I try that.

Only thing is, there appears to be no one really doing anything much as far as providing a go-to spot for critiques on anything including entertainment, events, or food.

Anyway, it's a good opening and I hope to take it!

kermitgrn said...

Basically it's because most of Montgomery's eating establishments suck.

By the way, if any of you guy's have $100 to spend on a meal go to Garrett's. Jodi and I went there for our anniversary. Both of us fealt as if we had somehow been transported out on Monkeytown. It was great! (You can eat for less, but that means skipping drinks, desert, and appetizers.)

bigsip said...

I want to try The Vintage Year. It's over near us and is apparently very good.

Jubilee Seafood is quite good, too. We went there for our anniversary last year.

Of course, you'll have seafood overflowing where you're living now.

Anyway, there are some pretty good places here, I think. Olive Room, Garrets, Vintage Year...the list is longer than you think!

I just hope we can turn the blog into something useful and self-supporting.

We'll see...

Jamison said...

Olive Room was so-so (Mama Huhu as the china-folks say) IMHO.
The waterfall urinal was neat and the lights on teh floor were cool, but to me the atmosphere was cooler than the food.

bigsip said...

See! That's what I need. Honest, no-holds-barred opinions of places.

I'm not saying that all of Montgomery's places are perfect, but there are some good places. We just need to tell both sides of every one of them!

mullinz8 said...

I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while but the Ridge is a bit too small.

I love the idea and when I go to Asheville there is a site a lady created for just this sort of thing, you can Google Asheville dinning and fine it easy enough if you’re interested.

As previously noted, I’d include the surrounding areas even if you have nothing for them yet. You’ll catch more birds using a larger net. Also you need to rate the “other” things as well. Was there food at the zoo, was it moderately priced, do they allow picnic lunches, where is a place you could grab a bite near by? (perfect for double posts) How long did it take you to walk the zoo?

As for the food stuffs, I’d go a bit deeper. You said the food was fresh at the pizza place, was it really? How do you know? Do they support local farmers or do they pick the maters up at the Publix?

I know the pizza place was your first, and it was very good, honestly. Still, I’d beef it up a bit more, it was a bit lite. What else do they serve? Are they open late for the party crowd, do they offer take-out? All of these questions can be answered by the wait staff.

Does the location have special evenings when they do wine tasting or do they have a band every other weekend, you don’t have to go just relay the information. What was the average cost of a pizza. Cost is a huge factor to consider, when I was doing Food Network stuff a mention of the cost was a subtle necessity. Is the location kid and senior friendly? All this crap can bulk up your posts too. It’s not just about the food being good but it’s about it being a worthwhile and unique experience.

Also, THIS IS A MUST. You have to get some business cards. They must have your web address; you’re name and a general date as to when you are going to post a review.
Each card should have a place for you to fill in the date followed by a line saying “check our website in two weeks for a full review of this location!” Always try and link the restaurants site too. You need to include some personal contact information like a name and email address dedicated to the site.
Make sure the card gets to the manager, especially if it’s a good review you should do some follow up reminding the location you’ve posted something about them on the web.

If you hit a few places and your managers are savvy they will find the site and check it out for themselves and maybe invite you back.

Consider this as an end game for you. Restaurant X contacts you about the nice write up. You mention that you tried to link to their restaurant but they didn’t have a website. Too bad, right? No. In a very matter of fact way you suggest that you know a lot of people who build sites and then you could suggest that person or persons (your wife, Chuck, Jamison who ever) If one of those people builds a site then you can ask for 10% of their take. What you have just created is a small business that begins to build its self. All restaurant people know each other, they all talk. If one has a really cool site built for them they will talk about it and whore out their designer.

You will also be able to do a comparison pitting (ha) several BBQ places against each other. People want to know what is the best bang for their buck.

I'd put up a small bio but remove the book link too.

Brewster said...

I think we all like this idea. I'm really excited about it, which means I'm gonna give you more advice.

I think first you should decide what you really want out of this. I think it could be really huge, but that means spending a lot of time doing it. So you have to decide how much you're willing to put in. If it's just for fun, then keep it that way, but don't expect a lot out of it either, at least not for a long time.

But if you are serious, then I'd start mapping out where you want to go.

What do you want to review? The web is all about niche marketing. If you want to do restraunts, then stick to restraunts. A restraunt review guide with a couple of theatre reviews looks tacky.

If you want to do a lot of different reviews, then get on recruiting multiple people. There is no way you'll ever get enough content to do theatre/entertainment/restraunts etc by yourself.

Set up posting goals. Blogs are all about regular updates. If you get a couple of regular readers they'll dump you if they have to wait a month for a new post. Maybe something like restraunt reviews on monday, travels off the beaten path on wednesday and entertaiment (movie, theatre, music) reviews on friday.

I'd stick to local stuff at first. Skip the movie/book/cd reviews all togehter. At least until you get more copy.

If you do this as a hobby, reviewing restraunt whenever you happen to get out to eat, reviewing parks/events when you find the time, then you really wont' get anywhere. Well, at least not for years until you can build the content.

Go with mulls ideas on copy and wheeling people in. Grab folks from church work and FU to help. I bet Ms Pace would love to write some reviews for you.

Good luck man.

bigsip said...

Again, thanks guys!

I do think this could go somewhere if I just do some of the things y'all talk about.

I definitely need to write more first, though. I also need to make a goal of at least two reviews/updates per week.

In any case, it'll have to wait at the moment.

Once I get some good stuff built up, I can go farther, perhaps.

I still don't know for sure if I want more or less out of this, but I like it and think it's worth a try.

We'll see how it goes!