More than 20 years ago, Vermonters Jeffrey and Maryanne Larkin opened Arvad’s Grill & Pub in Waterbury. From the very beginning, they put high emphasis on featuring local products and serving their local community. “We strive to use local products in preparation of our homemade food and serve the finest Vermont has to offer in beer and spirits.” It was in the same spirit that they offered to host Waterbury’s small business workshop series for the Vermont Digital Economy Project.
I had the pleasure of meeting both Jeffrey and Maryanne at last week’s “Getting Your Business Online” workshop in Waterbury. They didn’t actually attend the workshop; they were busy in the back room and kitchen getting prepped for the afternoon and evening ahead, while the rest of us used their free Wi-Fi to look at various small business website examples and talk through the specific needs for the other local business owners who came out for free advising. Later on, I discovered why the Larkins did not attend the workshop. Arvad’s is already online…and in a big way!
The next workshop in the series, led by Project partner the Vermont Small Business Development Center, is titled “Social Media Marketing.” It will be at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18th also at Arvad’s in Waterbury. Jeffrey says he definitely plans to attend this next workshop because, “Maryanne does all of our social media and I really need to understand it better.”
Maryanne confirmed that she is not only the chef, but also the online marketing guru for the business. She describes herself as “very advanced in her use of Facebook,” and extremely committed to spending a little time each and every day to change photos, add events, and use Facebook posts to inform their loyal customer base about everything from new brews on tap to dinner specials and details on upcoming live entertainment.
At the time of this writing, Arvad’s Facebook Page had 2,246 likes, had just posted the day’s specials and had also recently updated their cover photo to the logo for the Vermont Fresh Network, Farm & Chef Partnership. Maryanne averages more than two posts a day and uses many links and photos to drive traffic to her site and promote interest about Arvad’s. All of this translates into more buzz about the restaurant, which leads to increased business.
I discovered that Maryanne’s online expertise isn’t just limited to Facebook. She also has a monthly blog that is featured on the restaurant’s website. According to her March blog post, “the point of this blog is to hopefully inspire other strong, passionate, giving women that have a leadership role in business.” She writes blog articles faithfully nearly every single month; which you can find here.
Speaking of Arvad’s website, I was very impressed that it was packed with great, easily accessible information, including menus, daily specials, a calendar of events, and multiple ways to contact them. Our social media manager took a look at Arvad’s use of digital tools and also really liked what she saw. According to the Network and Outreach Coordinator for the Vermont Digital Economy Project, Caitlin Lovegrove:
“The website is nice, easy to navigate, and functional. It has the hours right on the home page, and you can easily find where the menus are listed (which is something else people on restaurant sites look at). I would change the font, since it's a bit hard to read, but other than that, it gets the job done nicely. Also, the Facebook page is great. She obviously puts time into it, and it shows.”
On her blog page, Maryanne describes herself as a “professional chef looking to become a writer....just kidding.” Based on what we see on Facebook and the Arvad’s website, Maryanne is successful at both.