Passionate about food and fostering community, Brian Douglas created the @psufoodscene Instagram account to promote local restaurants in the Penn State community.
Douglas, who graduated from Penn State in 2006 with a hotel and restaurant management degree, said he stayed in State College to start a family and has been a local for 17 years.
Now working in supply chain management, Douglas said he wanted to do something related to food that would also allow him to engage with other business owners.
“What I'm trying to do is highlight food areas, eateries, diners, restaurants — anything related to food — to get them some exposure,” Douglas said.
Wanting to be more than a restaurant review page, Douglas said he has reached out and talked with many business owners to get to know the stories behind their food that he can share with his followers.
Douglas said his posts showcase the restaurants’ menu items as well as their community engagement so people can get to “know them more personally.”
After posting about URBN Flavourhaus, a restaurant in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, Brian said he was able to connect the business to his sons’ little league team for fundraisers.
Aside from promoting local restaurants, Douglas said his account is also a resource for students and other community members who are looking for new places to eat, which he said can be a difficult decision in his own life.
“Half of a marriage is figuring out where you're going to go eat,” Douglas said.
Douglas’ wife, Katie Douglas, also said her husband’s Instagram account is a great place for people to get ideas before going out to eat, as she has seen a variety of new restaurants pop up over the years.
Katie, who grew up in State College and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in human development and family studies, said she is supportive of Brian’s Instagram account because she knows food is Brian’s passion — the “spark” inside of him.
“He knows the blood, sweat and tears that go into making a restaurant,” Katie said. “Right now, sales are down for everybody, so it's something he's passionate about and can support local businesses [through].”
Amy Sentementes, an assistant teaching professor in the department of political science at Penn State who also has her own food Instagram account, said the focus of Brian’s account is timely.
“Going to local restaurants and showcasing them on Instagram is a really great way to get people involved,” Sentementes said, “and also inspire others to open more local businesses instead of chain restaurants.”
Sentementes said food “brings people together,” and Douglas’s account is taking that idea and applying it to the Penn State community.
From a social media standpoint, Sentementes said she thinks more businesses and restaurants should promote themselves online.
“Instagram accounts like @psufoodscene might inspire these businesses to be more active on social media,” Sentementes said. “That's a way they can improve business and also make connections to the students who are so active on social media.”
Excited to see more growth and interconnection between local restaurants, Katie said her husband’s efforts are all about showcasing the love within the community.
“When you go to different places and you see the food that people create, it's like you get a little piece of their heart.”