Lessing-Flynn organized an event to promote area restaurants that serve sushi. Photo submitted
Lessing-Flynn organized an event to promote area restaurants that serve sushi. Photo submitted

Sometimes the simple ideas take hold.

Emily Beckmann decided to try the guacamole one night at Dos Rios restaurant downtown, and discovered she loved it. So she shared her experience on Twitter, and it turned into something big.

“I tried it, loved it and tweeted about it the next day on Twitter,” Beckmann said. “I got 12 or 15 people that tweeted right back with ‘I love that place.’ So then I got to thinking, there’s got to be something here.”

Beckmann, in addition to her day job as the director of marketing and communication with the Children’s Cancer Connection, is active in the Social Media Club of Des Moines, a member of the Young Professionals Connection (YPC) marketing committee and writer of the personal blog “The Dish on Des Moines.” She decided to organize an event called “DSM GuacUp.” Around 60 people gathered at Dos Rios to try the guacamole for themselves, catch up with old friends and meet new ones.

Beckmann, who frequently writes about different restaurants in the city based on her experiences, sees that event as part of a growing trend in Des Moines: planning social get-togethers around food, and in the process helping local restaurants.

“There’s such a tie between people and food,” she said. “It’s such a social thing as well.”

Another similar idea sprang up at Lessing-Flynn Advertising. After attending the Blue Ribbon Bacon Fest in February, employees of the advertising agency wondered why nobody had ever done a similar event for sushi.

That led to Lessing-Flynn’s “DSM: Sushi Bomb” event in September, where 275 people gathered to eat sushi from Waterfront Seafood Market, Hoshi Sushi Lounge, Taki Japanese Steakhouse and Samurai Sushi and Hibachi.

“I think a lot of restaurants feel like it was a good place for their business to be because they got exposed to people who might not necessarily travel (to the restaurant),” said organizer Josh Fleming, interactive marketing director at Lessing-Flynn. “I think they really kind of increased the awareness of who they are.”

A common thread between the GuacUp and the Sushi Bomb was social media. The GuacUp was organized almost exclusively through Twitter, using what is known as a tweet-up. The Sushi Bomb was promoted through a separate website created by the company, but was also promoted through social media, Fleming said.

YPC also showcases a different restaurant every month at its monthly happy hour, which can alert the young professional crowd to local restaurants. The November happy hour was at Mars Cafe in the Drake neighborhood last Thursday.

“Not only are we going to have fun and support the restaurant, but more than likely we’re going to go back and we’re going to tweet about it, we’re going to blog about it, and we’re going to say, ‘Hey, you should really try this restaurant, because I had a really great experience,’” Beckmann said.