Grand Rapids man creates database on Reddit to support local restaurants

GRAND RAPIDS, me. – A man from Grand Rapids used social media in hopes of finding new restaurant recommendations, and what started as a few spots has now grown to hundreds.

It’s gaining more traction at a time when local restaurants really could use the support.

“I cook about once a day, but I eat a lot more than I should,” said Fess Parker.

Like many of us, Parker is used to eating fast food. It’s convenient, quick, and cheap. But it’s hard to tell where the profits will end up.

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“I started thinking about where my money is really going and what the impact I could have if I tried to keep that money in the community,” he said.

Then Parker went online and found the Grand Rapids page on Reddit. The social media website allows users to post pictures, links, and questions about their communities.

Parker asked people about locally owned restaurants and their top dishes in hopes of supporting mom-and-pops especially during the pandemic.

“I think they don’t have as much leeway as some of the bigger companies in terms of what to bring in to be profitable and to stay in business,” he said.

The answers quickly added up.

“I kind of put this together on a list, just myself on my phone for my own reference, you know, but then I quickly realized that I would never eat realistically in any of these places.”

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Parker found it selfish to keep the tips to himself and used the comments and suggestions to help others.

It creates this Google Spreadsheet that people can edit. You can search for types of foods such as Mexican, Asian, or pizza. There’s even a list of locations, websites, hours of operation, and recommended dishes.

“I can’t say I’ve had a lot of Indian, and looking at the menu doesn’t really make sense to me. So I definitely have some guidance on where to look and what a safe bet is from, ”he said.

He also created this map which is color coded based on the menu.

You can see what spots are near you or how far you need to go to try something different.

Whichever location you choose, it’s nice to know that your money stays there.

“If you give your money to Taco Bell and McDonald’s, who knows where that dollar will end up going,” he said.

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