Facebook is not only notable for its role in recent uprisings, it is rapidly becoming a useful place to find out about Cuzco restaurants.
While more and more Peruvian youth find and carry out friendships on this social network, Peruvian restaurants, clubs, and bars are also finding reason to rely on Facebook for their business.
Not too long ago Cuzco’s restaurants depended entirely on their street front, word of mouth, tour guides, and guide books to get tourists to try them out. But, increasingly they are actively reaching into cyberspace to build brand and create a buzz.
Many Cuzco restaurants have webpages, but Facebook offers them and their clients advantage over a static page. Facebook is interactive. It allows people to post comments and feel involved in the life of the page, while most webpages are simple statements of how a restaurant would like to be seen. A Facebook page does not let the restaurant hire creative programmers to give them bells and whistles that sound outstanding, it shows the nature of the place through its engagement with its public.
Although at the moment only some four percent of restaurants are found there, we can expect more. Right now is the down time for many of Cuzco’s businesses (they are between tourist rushes and this is a good time to take a well deserved vacation) But shortly business will pick up and there will be a rush to activate Facebook pages and more restaurants will move into social media.
Those that have made an investment in Facebook, even if they are not active at the moment, are an intriguing group. They provide a distinctive window on Cuzco’s restaurant scene.
We do not see on Facebook the “best” restaurants in Cuzco, such as MAP or Limo’s. Nor do we find some of the most popular among tourists, such as Jack’s Café. We also don’t find the restaurants with celebrity chefs, such as ChiCha. Instead we see an eclectic group.
It includes the English pub that serves British comfort food while broadcasting UK soccer matches, The Real McCoy. Found on the second floor of a colonial building along Plateros street (number 326), one can feel confused at first. The entrance is somewhat difficult to find on the side of a nondescript hall that rises to another nondescript space, before entering into the comforting space of little England.
While it has let its main webpage lapse, since this is the down-time of the year while people wait for tourist season to start, the Real McCoy’s webpage continues. Not only does it contain information about the pub and its activities, such as pub-quizzes, it also carries pictures of a warm and inviting environment filled with life. Though Cuzco depends on tourists, The Real McCoy is at the heart of a community that has its base in Cuzco and yet crosses oceans and continents.
On the other hand, the Uchukuta bar/club which is just a few doors down from McCoy (Plateros 358), has an almost blank page. A kind of placeholder, it does show, however, some of the club’s interests in music as well as its other web pages, though they have incorrect information.
One of the old classic cafés in Cuzco, Varayoc was for decades a hang out of intellectuals and artists. In the northern summer–july, august–it was common to hear scholars from all over doing shop talk about the latest excavations and gossip about research and fellow scholars. Unfortunately, it was forced from its location on the Plaza de Regocijo where a frequently played harp graced its window.
It found a new location, a block and a half away, on the San Juan de Diós street (number 250) in a lovingly restored colonial mansion with other restaurants and quality art. Its personnel continues the same, greeting regulars with grace and cariño, warmth.
Varayoc has a charming Facebook page with almost a thousand fans and its full menu smuggled into the section for photos.
Though most of the entries in Facebook for some reason are bars or cafes, Marcelo Batata a sophisticated restaurant lounge on the upper floors of a colonial building on Calle Palacios (number 121) also has a page. Elegant and yet casual, Marcelo Batata offers standard Peruvian dishes as well as fusion and basic international fare. Its Facebook page is a study in contrast with its high design web page. Facebook gives it a casual, accessable side to balance its formality, not unlike the contrasts that fill its market profile and its menu.
These are but three of the Cuzco restaurants and bars that find a home on Facebook, though a representative three. Cuzco still enjoys its down season, but it will soon crank itself up to receive the hundreds of thousands of tourists that will fill it from all corners of the world. Facebook promises to be an important part of how Cuzco offers itself to the visitors.