Digital Yorkshire - Squidbeak
PUBLISHED: 09:40 11 October 2013 | UPDATED: 09:40 11 October 2013
While other businesses are selling and cooking food online, Yorkshire review site Squidbeak (squidbeak.co.uk) – set up in 2010 by former TV and print journalists Jill Turton and Mandy Wragg – has become the go-to site for seeking out the best places to eat it. We went behind the scenes…
Q How did you come up with the idea?
A Yorkshire had become a Mecca for foodies and we wanted to reflect that. We decided to embrace more immediate technology so we could reach a wider readership, both in Yorkshire and beyond. The name Squidbeak has always been our shorthand for gussied-up food (after a friend saw it scribbled in the loo in a pretentious restaurant!)
Q What are the challenges and benefits of being online?
A Despite the geography (Jill’s in York, I’m in Hebden Bridge) we can feed reviews into Squidbeak from the desk, and a major benefit is the immediacy – we eat, we write, it’s out there! Publishing every day is a huge buzz and our blog is lively and full of food news (and gossip) and it’s very local. Concentrating on Yorkshire and living here means we really know our patch and cover it properly.
Q How successful are you?
A Our ethos was to run a site that was local, friendly, personal and honest; corporate advertisers just didn’t sit well with what we’re about. We’re still small (in the sense of Google-globalness!) but the followers we have are immensely loyal. You won’t see us floating Squidbeak on the stock market any day soon, but we’re growing steadily, which is very satisfying.
Q How do you differ from other review sites?
We’re completely independent and honest. We visit every single place we review – no website surfing for us – and if somewhere isn’t on the site, it’s either because we haven’t been there yet or it doesn’t reach our benchmark. We don’t rubbish places – it’s not what we’re about – we’d rather lead people to good places, rather than sling mud. That’s not to say we don’t offer constructive criticism where it’s due.
Q Future plans?
A To keep building the site – the best websites don’t appear fully formed overnight, they take months and years to build – and add some more specialist pages. There’s a lot of competition out there – after all, everyone is a restaurant reviewer (just look at TripAdvisor) – but we like to think chefs respect our reviews because we’re professional, we know about the industry and we know about food. We’d love to think that people would turn to us first before TripAdvisor, but we’ve a way to go yet.