Article by Debra Freeman with photography by Fitz
Lead photo of photographer Michael Dove of Inside Virginia
One late night in a library, Richard George and Michael Dove were talking about food; shortly the conversation led to food in Hampton Roads, and in the midst of this discussion, George started thinking that his love for food combined with the lack of food blogs in the area might lead to an opportunity to create a lane for themselves. After some conversation, it became clear there was an opportunity to help spread the word about Hampton Roads’ culinary scene in an innovative way, but through Instagram rather than a traditional blog, and InsideVirginia was born.
Both George and Dove are students at Old Dominion University; George is majoring in television broadcasting and cinematography, while Dove is an award winning photographer (in 2016 Dove won an award for Digital Video Production in Virginia), and takes photos of the tennis and track and field teams at ODU. This millennial pair have created InsideVirginia, a fast growing food blog in Virginia, and they are self-described as food community influencers.
Within less than a year, the combination of succinct reviews and sharp photography has become a go-to entity to follow on Instagram. The first restaurant featured online was Greenhouse Kitchen in Norfolk; things moved quickly from there, and the pair started reaching out to restaurants to help them tell their story on social media. Online posts now reach about 3,000 followers weekly on Instagram, and as George puts it, “We’re in a digital age, and Instagram is more immediate; we’re modernizing what a blog is through Instagram.”
InsideVirginia has worked with some of the top restaurants and food trucks in the area, including Redwood Smoke Shack, Voila International Cuisine, The Bee and the Biscuit, Taste of Asia, Hummingbird Macarons, and Lamia’s Crepes. The InsideVirginia Instagram page has helped connect restaurants with wider audiences, and expansion is on the horizon. The utilization of YouTube and creating a online community blog, with an emphasis on greater community engagement, are next steps in their digital media platform.
It is encouraging that the food scene in Hampton Roads appeals to younger audiences. This area is beginning to create a culture of people who are passionate about our culinary scene, and InsideVirginia is making sure locals and tourists alike are aware of the extraordinary food available here.
Visit Inside Virginia online at @insidevirginia