As a (wannabe) foodie, I always get excited to see new restaurants opening up shop in Capitol Hill. For the past few months, I’ve been eyeing the location where a 24-hour diner is going in. Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge is moving into their spacious 10th Ave location this Spring (they just put up their sign this weekend, so it’s only a matter of time until the doors open). Owned by the people behind the popular 5 Point Cafe, Lost Lake will offer typical diner fare (and all-day breakfast) that’s decadent but won’t make too much of a dent in your wallet.
So, how did I know what was going in next to the Comet? Social media. Long before the sign outside went up or construction inside gave some glimpse into what was going in, Lost Lake was generating buzz on Seattle blogs, as well as their own Facebook page. Capitol Hill Seattle blogged about the cafe in late February, while Eater put up a blurb around the same time. Even The Stranger shared their excitement about 24-hour diner food. The Facebook page for Lost Lake went up last November, and they’ve been actively posting on both Facebook and Twitter. For months now, Lost Lake has been posting pictures of menu items and updates on the construction process while starting a conversation with the Capitol Hill community. They’ve already got almost 1,500 “likes”, and they haven’t even opened their doors.
Meanwhile, if you’ve been to Marination Station recently, you’ve seen that the space formerly inhabited by Little Saigon now has windows covered with Soviet-inspired flyers advertising the new tenant. Vostok Dumpling House is set to open its doors in the beginning of May, and will be serving up Eastern European dumplings, paired with local microbrews and imported beer from Russia.
Their menu is simple: vareniki and pelmini, and they definitely know how to cater to the Capitol Hill crowd, with plans to stay open late (unlike their neighbor, Marination Station). While Vostok hasn’t generated as much buzz as Lost Lake, they still have already established an online presence. In late March, they were featured in a Capitol Hill Seattle blog post, along with getting a brief mention on Eater Seattle. Their Facebook page was created mid-March, so it hasn’t gained the popularity that Lost Lake has quite yet, but Vostok’s at about 150 “likes” and counting, and they’ve been giving fans previews of construction and menu items along the way.
Of course, one of the major differences between the two restaurants is that Lost Lake is owned by an already-successful group that has experience in the Seattle restaurant industry, whereas Vostok is created by a first-time restaurateur without an already-established fan base. Both cases, however, show how powerful social media can be to help out a new business before it even opens. Already, people can plan what sorts of things they want to eat, and feel involved in the whole opening process. By having these Facebook pages before opening, it creates a welcoming conversation with the local community. Capitol Hill is typically a younger, late-night crowd, so using social media to reach out to them can be a really successful (and free) marketing tool.
Thanks to the buzz being generated, I wouldn’t be surprised to see lines out the door when Lost Lake and Vostok open. As long as the line’s nowhere near as long as Von Trapp’s, I don’t mind waiting…
Images used are taken from the Facebook pages of Vostok and Lost Lake. Both restaurants are set to open late April/early March.