$10,000 for a single post on Instagram? How people who talk about food can make or break a restaurant.
Joel Gonzalez had been working at his family’s restaurant for more than 20 years, and he had never seen anything like it. Around 6 p.m. on March 25, 2021, he looked up and saw a line going out the door of Mariscos Corona, the restaurant he and his sister run in Van Nuys. For the next two hours, the siblings did their best to handle the rush of customers who wanted the restaurant’s signature dishes, like aguachile-stuffed avocados and surf-and-turf burritos.
Gonzalez says, “Oh my God, we were so busy until it was time to close.” “We’d never seen such a long line out the door before.”
The next day, which was a Friday, there was another line, and customers kept coming all weekend. The Instagram account for the restaurant got 5,000 new followers. Gonzalez ran out of avocados, so his fridge was empty in the end. He was closed on Monday.
When Gonzalez’s crush started, he didn’t know that Ashley Rodriguez, 29, a food influencer also known on social media as @firstdateguide, had posted a 42-second TikTok video of his soon-to-be-popular dishes earlier that day.
Viewers saw avocados full of citrus-soaked seafood and a huge grilled burrito filled with shrimp, carne asada, and French fries. At one point, Rodriguez poured a whole cup of red salsa on the burrito, took a big bite, and nodded enthusiastically, just like a trusted friend who tells you about a new restaurant you have to try.
The video got more than 200,000 views in the first 24 hours, and it reached 1 million views in a week.