Morgan Bryant initially thought Atlanta was a food desert, compared to what she knew. What she was used to was the Bay Area — where you could culinarily experience the melting pot of African-American, Asian, and Latino cultures by just walking down the block.
While there is no shortage of food destinations in Atlanta, to get the most of the scene, one has to be a skilled navigator. So in 2015, the Atlanta transplant started exploring and posting Instagram photos of the best meals she could find. “I noticed the reaction it was getting. I knew that I liked to eat good food, and other people appreciated my opinion. That’s how Eat Here ATL was born.”
Founded as a social media platform to encourage locals to support their local economy by eating local and trying new restaurants, Eat Here ATL serves as a friend’s guide to the ever changing food scene.
“I started Eat Here ATL in January 2015 as an online guide to my favorite places to eat in and around Atlanta. There are a lot of food bloggers in such a large city but I found that many focus on reviews and that’s not what I wanted to do. I figured there are enough people who jump on Yelp and leave negative comments about how they didn’t like the restaurant decor or how the paella took 30 mins. My Instagram and Blog only focus on the positive. Even as a millennial, I understand that the experience of sitting with friends and enjoying good food should take time.”
Along with the growing online community behind the brand — her Instagram followers are nearing 25,000 — Bryant places the brand’s Eat Here ATL logo decal at restaurants, coffee shops and bars in and around Atlanta as a stamp of approval. The decals let the community know that the business’ food, atmosphere and service is worthy of their patronage — a striving to be a more relatable Zagat for people who really love food.
Then the one-woman show became three.
“About 7 months ago I put an ad up on Instagram looking for interns, the response was more than I expected. I got about 28 emails and from that I found two of the sweetest women in Atlanta. Arielle Kleinman and Ashleigh Byrne. I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed them to do especially because I had no money to pay them but I know I wanted EHATL to be bigger than me. More pictures, more restaurant experiences, more food. Since joining the team they have been instrumental in sharing new places to eat with our followers and connecting the dots in the ever growing food scene here in Atlanta.”
The brand’s reach extends beyond picture posts online. Her online platform features interviews with local chefs, restaurateurs and small business owners. Bryant also promotes brands and restaurants she believes need a larger platform. For example, although the decal isn’t just posted at black-owned businesses it’s still very important to her that she support them.
“Like most cities, gentrification has a strong hold on the city of Atlanta but because of our civil rights past we refuse to be shut out.”
How to get the coveted decal and be in Bryant’s good graces?
“To capture Eat Here ATL’s attention, you have to create moments for patrons,” she says. “A moment is created when you provide great service in a carefully curated space with a powerful aesthetic. Patrons need to know when they leave their home that they’re going to get something they can’t find anywhere else.” AT