Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian

The Nolita neighborhood in lower Manhattan serves as a microcosm for what’s happening to restaurants and bars today as a result of social media’s impact, particularly Instagram. There are currently more than 257,000 pics tagged with #food on the photo-sharing site and almost 150,000 tagged with #foodporn.

Looking down the streets of Nolita at all the small eateries, you’ll notice the colors, the styles and the unique presentations of each establishment. The neighborhood has gone through a recent transformation into an “it” place, as reflected in Instagram users’ geotagged posts. Eateries have caught onto the fact that some of these details can make for round-the-block lines and long waiting lists.

Offering a beautiful plate and a great background for pictures is starting to become just as important as how the food tastes. There’s a reason food experts are fond of saying “we eat with our eyes.” Instagram — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — seem to prove that claim over and over again. As a result, eating establishments are designing their spaces for the value of a good social media picture. One Italian restaurant in Nolita, Pietro Nolita, is bathed in pink inside and outside. Visit their Instagram account, which has almost 24,000 followers, to enjoy their unique design aesthetic.

Black Tap Burgers in Soho was featured on Buzzfeed showcasing beautiful burgers and the large jars of colorful candy they use, along with cookies and other baked goods, to top their larger than life milkshakes and sides. That story got more than million views right away, and later resulted in a feature on ABC’s “The Chew,” and long lines outside their not so large restaurant.

Influencers with a large fan base, such as Jonathan Cheban on Instagram @foodgod (with nearly 2.5 million followers), can command large payments from the places he features because of the big numbers that “heart” his posts. He even hosts events for restaurants and sometimes brings along famous friends such as one of the Kardashian and Jenner girls.

There’s no question that today’s influencers are yesterdays food reviewers in many ways.

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Ronn Torossian is founder & CEO of 5WPR, a leading food and beverage PR firm and one of 15 largest PR agencies in the United States.