Is there any place in Cincinnati more Instagrammed than the bathroom at Please?
Covered in colorful tiles, hand-painted with geometric designs by chef/owner Ryan Santos and his girlfriend, Jessie, the Please potty, as the hashtag calls it, has become an accidental marketing tool for the Over-the-Rhine restaurant, which opened 11 months ago on Clay Street. It has been featured in Bon Appetit -- and it draws in customers.
"For a lot of people, if you're coming in for a meal or a drink, there's a mandatory stop at the bathroom, which is kind of funny," Santos said.
The Please potty wasn't designed to be an Instagram star, though nationally, some restaurants are beginning to include design elements specifically to spark Instagram posts. Santos said he just wanted to show customers that, while he took food seriously, Please had a sense of humor: "It's not hoity-toity or pretentious."
Intentional or not, Greater Cincinnati eateries (and drinkeries) are reaping benefits from Instagram
"I firmly believe social media gave us the brand recognition we have today," said Katie Plazarin, who handles marketing and social media for Holtman's Donuts. She credits three years of word-of-mouth advertisement on social media with the success of the Over-the-Rhine Holtman's location she and her husband, Danny Plazarin, opened in 2013
"We were just on Facebook then, but it helped build the sort of cult following that we have," Plazarin said.
Now, Instagram is the most important social media platform, one that Plazarin said sometimes informs product development. When a post about a shark doughnut went viral, Holtman's bought Greater Cincinnati out of shark-shaped gummies trying to keep up with demand.
The Plazarins just opened a fourth Holtman's location in West Chester and designed the shop to show off the history and nostalgia of the brand. Creating Instagram shots wasn't the point, Plazarin said, but as she looked around the store, she kept seeing pictures -- marble-topped tables as a backdrop for perfect doughnuts and family portraits on the banquette seats upholstered in Holtman's blue.
"I thought, 'Someone is going to take a picture of their kids and frame it and keep it forever,'" Plazarin said. "It's so beautiful."
In the age of social media, everyone seems to be a photographer. So here are nine of the most Instagrammable establishments across Greater Cincinnati.
There are things other than the Please potty in Instagram pics snapped at this OTR restaurant. People share photos of the "elevated New American fare," as well as cocktails and exterior shots. But, yeah, it's mostly bathroom selfies and close-ups of the hand-painted tiles.
Ricotta doughnuts might be the only thing more Instagrammed in Cincinnati than the Please potty, which is really no surprise. Sotto is a great spot for special occasions, special occasions must be documented, and you can't leave Sotto without these sweet treats. (Well, you could, but you shouldn't.) Cocktails, menus, and portraits of happy couples and families fill out the Instagram feed, accompanied by candlelight and some exposed brick. The pictures are dark, but the smiles are bright.
The best way to finish any meal is a donut, and more specifically the ricotta donuts from @sottocincy. We have found ourselves many times sitting at sotto's bar finishing our night out with a round of donuts and a bourbon neat. 📷@aaconphoto #eatcincinnati #cincyfoodies #cincyyelp #cincyeats #cincinnatifood #cincinnati #cincinnatieats
All the pictures from Cheapside are white and bright, appropriate for a restaurant that specializes in breakfast. The wood pallet "teepee" on the patio is the star of many Instagram shots, but people also can't help but take pictures of the restaurant's raw wood shelves, stools and tables, pour-over coffee and retro exterior.
Beautifully plated food and drinks, marble-topped tables and the simple black-and-white sign fill the Instagram feed of photos taken at this OTR restaurant. The small outdoor patio space, with its twinkle lights and dividing wall of horizontal planks, is a favorite backdrop, but people also love to snap shots of Salazar's tile-covered interior and bistro-style chairs.
Maplewood Kitchen and Bar
The Race Street restaurant's light-filled space and pretty plates of food just beg for people to take pictures. Brunch isn't the only meal served at Maplewood, but breakfast favorites -- and the giant cornflake cookies -- are the stars of its Instagram feed.
Terry's Turf Club
Neon signs and giant burgers fill the Instagram feed of this Cincinnati institution. By day or by night, the collection of kitschy signs at Terry's provides ample fodder for amateur photographers. And who could resist taking a photo of the giant chefs waving hello -- or goodbye, depending on your perspective? Either way, Terry's is always happy to see you.
Coppin's at Hotel Covington
Sleek, elegant decor shines on Coppin's Instagram feed, and few people can resist snapping a picture of the woodcut sign that declares Ohio and Kentucky to be the heart and soul, respectively, of the United States. Whether lights glow above the bar at night or sunshine streams through the skylights for brunch, Coppin's practically guarantees a lovely Instagram post.
Yes, we know, it's not a restaurant, but Cincinnatians love a good brewery, and Rhinegeist is particularly photogenic, thanks to its cathedral-like space, bright murals and, of course, the rooftop bar. A beer against a soft Cincinnati sunset is a favorite post in the Instagram feed from this Over-the-Rhine brewery.
Again, not a restaurant, but doughnuts and social media are a 21st-century version of peanut butter and jelly: They just go together. Plazarin said the most Instagrammed doughnuts are the ones coated in Fruity Pebbles and Lucky Charms, but people also love to give themselves doughnut eyes and show off the Holtman's logo and whatever assortment of goodies they've picked to fill a box. Those are Plazarin's favorite shots.