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Running Tab: Inland Northwest foodies have embraced Food Finder Spokane on Facebook

When I started working at The Spokesman-Review in April 2019, one of the first people I met in town was Kris Kilduff, whose one of many hats includes starting the Facebook group Food Finder Spokane last January.

I met Kilduff, born and raised in Spokane, after a Facebook Messenger introduction and exchanges, at a Secret Burger event at Prohibition Gastropub, and I was immediately impressed with his passion for and knowledge of food and Spokane. Secret Burger had launched in my previous hometown, Las Vegas, so Kilduff and I already had friends in common.

So, it would make sense that Kilduff would start the Spokane foodies group Food Finder Spokane, which has already found its teeth in its first year on Facebook. Groups of food fans with a common interest or affinity can digitally discourse, post photographs and share stories with other group members.

“Whether your hobby is horses or antique airplanes, or you simply want to collect the classmates from your 1984 graduating class, Facebook has fashioned a function worth wielding,” Kilduff said. Food Finder Spokane, of course, is focused on food, glorious food in the Inland Northwest.

Food Finder Spokane is the mouth-watering brainchild of Kilduff and local bartender Sara Thrope, co-administrator of Food Finder Spokane. A small group focused on where to find unique and local eats last year has blossomed into a group with nearly 11,000 members.

With more than 80,000 interactions (posts, comments and likes) in the last 28 days, according to Kilduff, “You will find a fantastic forum filled with hamburger how-to’s, lasagna lists and gluten-free guides. What has evolved is collective questions ranging from who has the best stroganoff to where do I find a late-night happy hour?”

I’m more an observer than active participant in Food Finder Spokane, but I love the interaction among area residents. Post a simple question such as, “Where can I find a chocolate croissant in the morning?” and there will be dozens, sometimes hundreds, of responses.

One of the measures of success in Food Finder Spokane’s first year has been how quickly restaurants have become involved. “Chefs, owners and managers contribute daily with specials, fresh sheets and pictures of their most popular menu items,” Kilduff said.

Since the average Facebook user only follows a handful of their favorite restaurants, Food Finder Spokane allows them to learn about new places to explore and frequent for food they wouldn’t regularly see in their social media feed.

With COVID-19 leading to so many changes in restaurants with openings, closings, adjusted menus and hours, Food Finder Spokane has become a great source for keeping up to date with regulations, outdoor dining and takeout and delivery options.

A downfall of websites based on user reviews is that the conversation is mostly one-sided. If a member posts a poor experience on Food Finder Spokane, the majority of the time restaurant employees or owners have been able to address the situation and offer solutions.

Food Finder Spokane is very much a collaborative and learning environment, as it provides a disgruntled customer a forum, and it offers insight into who is behind the doors at the businesses that customers are supporting.

Recently, Market Street Pizza owner Aaron Fiorini apologized for a customer’s disappointing experience and, within 30 minutes, the post was filled with other members who said how impressed they were with the customer service.

Many of them said they would be supporting Market Street Pizza in the near future because it was important to them to be eating at a restaurant where the owner cares. Now, with so many new and exciting restaurant options in Spokane, up-to-date and accurate information is key.

Where better to get a good scope of your surroundings than from you peers at Food Finder Spokane? Recently, self-professed five-star dive bar Charlie P’s posted a single-day, hand-dipped corn dog special and sold more than 30 of them.

1898 Public House chef Blake Kaba offers a Moroccan steak sandwich at the Kalispel Golf Course restaurant that drew responses from hundreds of members. Chef C.J. Callahan of Hogwash Whiskey Den has offered members roasted goose dinners for Christmas and black-eyed peas for New Year’s alongside a new brunch menu.

Recent postings at Food Finder Spokane have included a breakfast sandwich at Peace Pie Pizzeria, cheesesteak at TT’s Old Iron Brewery and BBQ and tacos at Borracho Tacos & Tequileria. OK, who isn’t hungry now?

Kilduff has started writing food features for the Food section of The Spokesman-Review, and there is more to come. I am excited to be working with Kilduff because I can’t think of anyone I trust more about food or is more knowledgeable about the local culinary scene than him.

Join Food Finder Spokane at facebook.com/groups/478954049334618 or by searching “Food Finder Spokane” on Facebook.

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