Charleston Area Food Fans Are So Hungry For Newsletters, They Sign Up For Those That Don’t Exist | Food

Chris Rollins, a part-time Graft Wine Shop employee who will be opening his own wine bar called Bar Rollins later this year, launched an email newsletter as a joke.

Rollins posted an Instagram post in February asking his followers to subscribe to his next newsletter by sending an email to [email protected], an address he jokingly made.

The next morning he verified the account and had over 40 followers. This number kept growing.






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Chris Rollins (center) goes through @barrollins on Instagram and has started a free newsletter on Substack. Independent cinema lab / Provided


“I was really surprised that people wanted to read a newsletter from us because our Instagram captions are quite confusing and vague,” Rollins said. “But we did, and it became a huge success for us. We get a lot more subscribers, visitors and interactions from the newsletter than any other social media page or website. . “

It posts inconsistent, quick-to-read snippets with lots of personality that include phrases like “Hello Cuties” and “Welcome Lovers”, as well as wine bar updates, wine recommendations and books, and a built-in Spotify playlist with its latest plays.

It reads more like a tongue-in-cheek blog post than traditional marketing material.

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“Our goal for every newsletter is to make people laugh, to be a little confused and want more,” he said.

The platform he uses is Substack, a popular publishing platform and email newsletter monetizer, although Rollins’ newsletter is free.

Substack publications attract over 12 million visitors each month, and some people who charge readers $ 5 per month to subscribe earn a full-time salary from their newsletter alone. According to Substack, there are 500,000 paying subscribers on its lists.






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Chris Rollins’ newsletter started out as a joke but actually turned into an accidental brand builder. Chris Rollins / Supplied


It’s less of a sales pitch and more of pulling a curtain on your world for people who might care, Rollins said.

“I think most people can tell when something is sponsored, and I think that’s the case with most social media sites these days,” Rollins said. “Newsletters, as a whole, are not ruined by algorithms and sponsored posts.”

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Brooks Reitz, a restaurateur behind Little Jack’s Tavern, Leon’s Oyster Shop, Melfi’s and Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., launched his Substack newsletter in January.

He charges $ 5 per month for the weekly edition, called A Small Simple Thing, but that’s mostly to keep it on track to meet its deadline and create great content, he said.

It now has over 300 subscribers.

It consists mostly of reflections on food and drink, although Reitz had fun incorporating his other interests like fashion, architecture, fitness, and film.

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Brooks Reitz publishes their newsletter every week on Substack and has around 300 paid subscribers. Brooks Reitz / Supplied


The former English and theater double major, playwright who has contributed to Southern Living, Bon Appetit and Conde Nast Traveler, has found the joy of returning to his writing roots.

“I have interests all over the place and I just found that writing is a great way to make sense of all of these notions in my head,” Reitz said.

Reitz himself subscribes to around eight newsletters that have replaced his traditional news regimen, including an in-depth daily dive into various topics by two friends called Why is this Interesting? and a food and drink news aggregator paired with an easy-to-digest context called Family Meal.

Reitz said he imagines that in a year or two there would be no reason a Charleston bartender or sommelier not have a newsletter discussing cocktails or suggesting wines. He just understood the trend very early on.

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To reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.

Harry L. Blanchard