It all started with some friendly teasing. “I did like to take pictures of my food and post it to personal accounts,” Lindsey Spires Griffin explained. That led to the teasing, and one Sunday afternoon in April 2014, Lindsey had an idea, created an Instagram account, and ColaTown Foodie was born.
If the revelation of Lindsey’s “secret identity” is new to you, you’re not alone. “For a long time I didn’t tell anybody I was doing it,” she said. The Instagram account was followed by a Twitter and Facebook, but the posts gave no clues regarding the poster. “I try not to ever post pictures of people… It’s just a lot of food.”
Lindsey makes it clear she is not a food critic, nor is ColaTown Foodie a business. “I don’t receive any revenue for it. It’s just a fun thing that was created. It’s grown organically,” she said. “I don’t expect anything for it in return.”
“I try to stay very positive in the posts. If I didn’t enjoy an experience, I won’t post a photo,” she added. “It’s not a place to bash anything anybody’s doing.”
Lindsey said she always enjoyed trying new local restaurants and dishes (hence the teasing which led to the creation), but becoming ColaTown Foodie has expanded her horizons. “I try to be adventurous and try something different,” she said, using as examples recent ventures with meals including head cheese and bone marrow. “I’m always down to try something and if I like it I like it, and if not I can say that I tried it.”
The ColaTown foodie venture has also given Lindsey a platform to share something she’s passionate about: her love of the Midlands. “I’m a cheerleader for this place,” she said. “I want to be here my entire life, and 6-7-8 years ago Columbia was in a place where the people that lived here were not supportive of the place where they lived. If we want to see it grow and thrive, we’ve got to be cheerleaders.”
“It’s so cool to be in a place like Columbia where we have proximity to great seafood, but also wonderful farms and wonderful folks raising quail and cattle, and it’s all just a little drive away,” she added. “When you go out toward the St. Andrew’s area, the restaurants that are out there but also the grocery stores that grow out of where pockets of cultures live, that’s just so neat to see.”
Lindsey, who grew up in Columbia and attended Presbyterian College, said the capital city has changed a lot since her childhood, and for the better. “It’s just completely been a renaissance… Nothing makes me happier than to walk up from the [USC] Alumni Center or drive down Main Street at lunch and see the volume of people that are on the sidewalk and the people that are packed into the restaurants,” she said. “I love to see all these new restaurants open, but even more that they have patrons.”
“[ColaTown Foodie] was just a way to say ‘Hey, look at all this awesome food and beverage and culture and experience from a food perspective that we have in this town. Let’s get out and enjoy it,'” she said. “The articles that have come out lately maybe teasing Columbia a little bit, or bashing us, I think that that’s coming from, you know, some people see us in the rear view mirror and they’re like ‘Something good’s going on there.'”
“What’s so fun is to watch the interaction that happens with people,” Lindsey said. ColaTown Foodie pictures inspire many social media followers to try new places, with Lindsey often seeing comments from people tagging others and suggesting a date night or other night out. She also receives recommendations from followers in return. “It’s helped me go to places I haven’t gone before, or that I tried once and want to go back to.”
Lindsey said the future for ColaTown Foodie holds more of the same, though she hopes to explore farther out into the Midlands from the Columbia center. She’s also working on an addition to her social media presence. “I’m trying to get into Snapchat for the kids,” she said.
If you have a suggestion or question for ColaTown Foodie, you can reach Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.