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What Makes a Restaurant Insta-Worthy? An Influencer's Take

You know those perfectly curated Instagram feeds? The ones with impeccably plated food and superbly attractive scenery? The ones where everyday life seems so impossibly elevated?

These feeds are often ran by savvy millennials with an eye for design and branding. These people, also known as influencers, are often sought out by major brands to promote products and bring authenticity to campaigns.

Recently, we were lucky enough to speak with a said influencer, Gabriel Cabrera, of the blog The Artful Desperado. With over 83,000 Instagram followers and recent collaborations with Coca-Cola, West Elm, and Elle Canada (to name a few), we wanted to pick Gabriel’s wildly creative, visual, and trend-spotting brain about what makes a restaurant Instagram worthy and how social media should play a role in restaurant design and development.

Andrea Reynolds: Let’s get right to it; what makes a restaurant worthy of an Instagram moment?

Gabriel Cabrera: For me, it would be the decor and the overall ambiance. The food is important, but as a visual person, the design pulls me in. Arrangement of the room is also important. Does it feel stuffy? Or does it look modern and sleek with a little bit of charm? I don’t want to eat in a hospital. I appreciate when [chain] stores change to reflect their location.  The brand Aesop does this well with their stores. Their brand is still recognizable, but each store’s design pays homage to its city or region.

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CPH Good Food, Tapperiet Brus Brewpub

AR: Do you have any tips for restaurants/chains that are rebranding their interior design?

GC: From my experience, one thing brands are always scared of is being too different. But when it comes to rebranding, go big or go home. Minor changes will attract the same people, so if you’re looking to attract a different demographic, you’re going to have to make major changes, shed that old skin. Powerful graphic design (think: packaging, logos) is so imperative. Rebrands and redesigns should include a “wow factor” – something to keep people thinking about what your brand will come up with next.   

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@aesopskincare

AR: Foodies, bloggers, and digital influencers have replaced traditional restaurant reviews and critiques. What do you think this means for restaurants, brands, and our culture?

GC: It’s important for brands to be visible in all areas of the digital space to stay relevant. It’s also important to somewhat cater to the influencers of your industry. Inviting them to try new menus or seeing the space before it opens are ways to create an immersive experience that worth documenting! One time, an ice cream shop in Vancouver asked for customer input on flavors. The restaurant then held an an affogato night in honor of their customer’s feedback. When brands do small things like that, it make customers feel like their opinions count and that they are a part of the community.

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AR: What’s your favorite restaurant you’ve ever photographed?

GC: Birds & The Beets, a restaurant in my hometown. They have a lovely wall of flowers and greenery that has become iconic with their cafe. When customers post pictures of that wall, people in our community instantly know where they are.

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 @foodee_inc, @olisarig

More About Gabriel

Gabriel Cabrera is a lifestyle photographer, stylist, and blogger based in Vancouver, Canada. His work primarily focuses on food, art, and design, and he has worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies over the years. To see his photography, check out his website here. To see his styling + other musings, check out his blog here. You can also follow him on Instagram here