On Bauer Business Focus — A conversation on using social media to market a niche business with Andrew Schneider, business reporter for KUHF 88.7 FM.
The phenomenon of food trucks as a hip, convenient way to grab a bite has spread throughout the country in recent years, making Houston one of its most recent pit stops. Once considered a less than savory option for dining, the food truck industry has undergone a transformation, now serving gourmet goods ranging from cupcakes to crepes.
The popularity of food trucks can be tied to the rise in use of social media, says Ryan Soroka, co-founder of Eatsie Boys, a mobile restaurant and catering company. Soroka graduated from the University of Houston with a joint master’s degree from the C. T. Bauer College of Business and the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.
He visited Bauer Business Focus recently to discuss his marketing plan for the business and what’s next for him. Businesses of all kinds are using social media to connect to customers like never before, says Soroka.
“Social media is a great way to market and advertise your company, your brand, your events,” he adds. “It’s a great way to connect directly to your target customer — you can poll them, ask direct questions and reach out to them.”
Soroka uses Facebook, Twitter and an online blog to keep Eatsie Boys customers in-the-know about the truck’s schedule and location as well as special menu items of the day. He’s taking a similar approach as he plans to launch a craft brewery in the area, building connections with the community even before the business formally opens.
Although Soroka had the concept for his mobile restaurant early on, he refined the idea and learned how to turn it into a profitable business during his time at UH Bauer, where he studied entrepreneurship.
“Eatsie Boys came about through some friends of mine, but it really got fine-tuned and tangible in one of my entrepreneurship classes at the Bauer program,” he says. “We created a business plan for it, did a lot of market research. I had a very strong group who assisted me and helped make this dream — this concept — a reality.”
Soroka is no stranger to the food industry. Having spent his undergraduate years at Tulane University in New Orleans and interning at the Schmaltz Brewing Company in New York, Soroka has been able to experience many outlets of the food and beverage industry.
“I spent my summer with (Schmaltz Brewing Company) in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, doing everything from marketing to sales, off premise and on premise, and administrative tasks. I had my hands in everything, it was a great experience,” Soroka says.
The experience working in a brewery and in the hospitality management program at the Hilton College gave Soroka the tools he needed to launch a second project, a hand-crafted brewery that will open soon near the UH Campus.
“It originally started as a business plan for a brew pub which is a brewery and a restaurant, but through my research over the three years here at the University of Houston it evolved strictly to a craft brewery which is production and distribution of hand-crafted beer,” Soroka adds.
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