The pandemic is hitting the food industry hard. Many restaurants have closed their business permanently while several have switched to takeout.  Maheen The Globe spoke with Mony B, a Seattle-based food blogger and social media influencer to share her perspective and insights about the current restaurant industry crisis and how we all can support local businesses at this time.

Besides blogging, Mony B also does social media content creation and is a social media influencer. She also co-hosts the Seattle Foodie Podcast with Nelson Lau. She’s originally from Hawaii but a Seattle local.

Mony B at Nutty Squirrel Gelato having an espresso.

Tell us a little about your food blog. 

I got started years ago with my first blog, Food Truckery in Seattle. Back then, food trucks were emerging and there were less than five trucks on the street every day. My goal has always been to support businesses to help them be successful. Today, most of my content is in Seattle Food and More, highlighting food, life, and travel. 

Selection of sweet treats by New Seasons Market at Feast Portland East v. West Event at the Rose Quarter Commons in Portland, Oregon.

When did you start and how did you become a social media influencer?

My personal Instagram account evolved into a business account. I gained more followers because I was shooting with a camera before cell phones were so sophisticated. Back then, you had to use a camera to get decent quality. Now, a smartphone is all you need, which I use about 50% of the time. New Instagrammers contact me often to learn about shortcuts to building their account and gaining some influence. My advice is always the same. First, there are no shortcuts to hard work. Second, if you put out quality content, people will notice. Third, be yourself and don’t bother copying anyone else because everyone sees that as well. People noticed my work and I began getting offers for tastings, sponsorships, and partnerships. 

Desserts by Trophy Cupcakes at Auction of Washington Wines at Chateau St. Michelle.

What are your comments on the current food scene in Seattle? Most of the restaurants have switched to takeaways. How has that impacted your blog content? 

I’ve never seen anything like this and I hope I never will again. It’s not just that businesses are closed and we’re trying to stay at home. We’re doing that in the middle of a pandemic that most of us have never seen in our lifetime. I go through a cycle of grief, then I feel guilty because others have it worse, then some days I can barely get out of bed. I think we’re all doing the best we can. 

I haven’t posted to my website since January, right before the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Washington. My focus has moved to Instagram as a more instantaneous and visible platform to support business. Because a portion of my content has always been takeaway, it hasn’t impacted me much. I still have plenty of content on my feed and daily stories. 

Seasonal Butternut Squash enchiladas from Agua Verde Café.

Has the current restaurant closure situation opened up the creative side of you as a blogger? 

I halted all the pieces I was writing for my website. They seemed very small in comparison to the pandemic and the businesses I was writing about are either closed or have modified service. The real struggle will be coming back from this. I’m in the process of brainstorming ideas of how to contribute once the stay at home order is over. I’m working with a few partners on ways that I can lend my voice to the food community but nothing has been finalized. The things I’m working on are things that I’ve never done before so that’s exciting. 

Stewed pork dry noodles from Nuodle in Bellevue.

What can the Seattle community do to support food bloggers and local food businesses? 

Honestly, I’d prefer if people move their support to local food businesses. Food bloggers come and go. I’m disappointed in how many Instagrammers are not supporting businesses. I have a responsibility to support a community that welcomed me and gave me a sense of belonging. Food businesses need our help and they need it now. 

Fish and Chips from Proper Fish on Bainbridge Island.

If you can, please donate money to restaurants, funds, and charities. I donate money each week to something that is meaningful to me. If you can’t donate, then find other ways to support businesses. I support at least one local business each day, primarily by ordering ahead and purchasing things online. We need to keep money flowing in the City as we move toward recovery.  If you can’t buy things, use your power to politically organize. Decisions are being made every day that impact food businesses. Those decisions need more voices behind them. If none of those strategies work for you, then find a way to lend your talents to help others. We’ve seen many examples of this: production being halted to sew masks, artists donating time and supplies to paint storefronts, people volunteering to deliver supplies to restaurants, etc. Follow your heart and do what you can. 

You can follow Mony B on Instagram here.