Elle Groves and Annie Knight are trying to be influencers on their own but also co-run a food account called Two Teaspooons, where the duo record themselves “wining and dining” at various restaurants throughout Melbourne and Brisbane.
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According to a screenshot uploaded by The Australian food writer John Lethlean, Groves reached out to a restaurant’s Instagram account and asked if the eatery would be willing to let the girls dine there “in exchange for some stories on [their] personal accounts, and a post and stories on [their] food page account.”
“Would you guys be interested in doing this collab?” Groves asked. “If not, we completely understand.”
Groves and Knight both have a little more than 5,000 followers each, and Two Teaspooons has almost 2,500.
While the restaurant is not mentioned in the original message, Lethlean tagged Little Andorra, a Turkish restaurant in Melbourne, in the post. Little Andorra’s Instagram account has more than 7,000 followers.
“Apologies for the delay,” the restaurant account wrote back. “I’ve been grappling with how much rage to demonstrate/throw in your direction.”
The user who wrote the response does not sign his name in the screenshots nor is tagged by Lethlean. But, in part of the message, the writer refers to himself as the owner, which would be Luke Bresnan. It’s worth noting that Little Andorra’s Instagram bio tags Mertcan Dogusgen, who is the chef at the restaurant, not the owner.
“Reaching out blind to a venue you know nothing about looking for free stuff is s***** enough thing to do at the best of times,” the response says, “but it’s even worse when COVID is still very much a thing, affecting small businesses like us devastatingly for two years now.”
The reply also gave Groves some advice: “Maybe give it a year or so and see how the business landscape looks and see if you can amass enough followers for your ‘collabs’ to actually be of benefit to the venues you approach so naively, instead of them being only of benefit to you.”
In an interview with Good Food, Bresnan explained that Little Andorra had to change a lot about its intention of being a “flexible” venue. The restaurant went from being open every day from 2 p.m. through the evening to being open five days a week with two set meal times and a prepaid menu.
Groves and Knight told the Daily Mail Australia that they fully intended for their Two Teaspooons page to “create awareness for small cafes and businesses”
“We have never asked companies for free food, it is always left open to them to what they want to offer,” they said in a statement. “We have dined at 99% of restaurants featured on our page paying full price.”
The story falls in with a popular trend on Australian social media, #couscousforcomment, where influencers are shamed asking for free meals in exchange for Instagram promotions.
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