Sarappo’s Pizza has been around for nine years, but it took an economic downturn for the business to rise to the top…
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Today we asked Ebyline Freelancer Nicole Loughan about her journalistic work covering the hottest food spots in her area. She also recently published her first book, “To Murder a Saint”, which made the top 100 bestseller list on Amazon last week. It was #71 overall and the #1 bestselling mystery. Read our interview with her below and congratulate her after!
There are two lines here you did a great job not blurring. One was that the economy made people want a cheaper night out. The other, that restaurants should never apologize for their prices. How did you organize your work to keep out confusion?
With any article that I write I spend a lot of time on the lead. If I get the lead right the rest of the story usually falls easily into place. For the most recent story, “The Recession that Grew a Pizza Place” I was fascinated when the owner told me the business took off during the economic downturn. We hear so much about the recession, but to see what it meant for real business owners was fascinating. His business thrived while many others closed their doors because he specialized in take-out and B.Y.O.B. It was a way for people to eat out without spending a lot of money. He also made it clear that his prices, while lower than most in his area, are not rock bottom. He felt that quality food would win out even in a recession and they did.
What is it that drives people to know the people behind the food they eat?
I am not sure that people are driven to learn more about the people that cook their food, that’s why it’s important that I find an angle that is interesting. For, example one of my favorite interviews was with a restaurant owner who used to be homeless. He and his wife moved to the U.S. without knowing a word of English and spent several years hungry. He told me that he spent an entire year with only one shoelace because he did not have the money to buy a second one. Today he owns a beautiful restaurant and never lets anybody he meets go hungry. It’s stories like that which drive people to want to know more about the people serving their food.
When you go about writing an article that includes quotes from interviews, how much interview material do you have when you begin and how do you narrow that down to the bits to include in an article?
I always get a lot more than I need for an article. I usually start by visiting a restaurant’s webpage, then checking them out on social media. I get a feel for what people like at the restaurant or what interesting events they have hosted or have coming up. After I have a good idea of what the restaurant is about then I start making calls. The restaurant owners usually say something that sparks my interest. Once I wrote a story about a cake bakery and learned that they were featured in a national magazine as the creator of the melted snowman cookie. The melted snowman cookie turned out to be the angle of my whole story.
Did you try the food? Which was your favorite dish?
I wish I was able to try the food. The newspaper used to have food critics who would try everything, but it became a very costly endeavor. They decided to try food features, which is where I came in. Features are a good way to talk about new restaurants, menus and chefs from a social standpoint. As far as what I would order and what would be my favorite, it would be anything with cheese. I am a cheese connoisseur. I love stinky cheeses and buttery brie. The way to my heart is definitely through dairy.
Nicole is an award winning journalist. She was awarded first place in feature writing by the Michigan Press Association for her story “Family Keeps the Faith.” She also writes two regular features for Calkins Media, “My Bucks County” and “Fresh Offerings.” She has a gig as Happenings Media syndicated Columnist, “The Starter Mom.”