BYU alumna Olivia Gochnour and her husband, Will Gochnour, take date night to the next level when they go out to eat. The meal they indulge in isn’t just for them, it’s for the almost 20,000 followers of their Instagram account, Utah Grubs.
Utah Grubs is filled with photos of the different restaurants and foods that can be found in the state of Utah. The account was started by the high-school sweethearts in 2014, was originally started because of the couple’s love for food.
“We always found ourselves texting each other pictures of where we went to lunch with our work friends. Like, ‘Oh my gosh you need to try this place, it’s so good,'” Olivia said.
While driving home from work one day, Olivia decided to create an account where the couple could post their food photos to look back on for the next time they wanted to eat out.
“Then it just kind of caught on from there, our close friends and family started following it at first and then we didn’t even try to do giveaways or hashtags or anything like that,” Olivia said. “It just kind of grew itself which is awesome but very unexpected, but it’s been so fun.”
Will agreed that the rapid reach of the account has been unanticipated.
“I had no clue it would ever get this big. Next thing we know we’re already at a couple thousand followers and from there it’s just gone kind of crazy,” Will said. “It really seems like just yesterday that we were starting this up and I can’t believe it’s gone this far so quickly.”
A benefit of working as a couple, Olivia admitted, is getting to divide the food according to their difference in taste buds. She said she is drawn to the sweets, while her husband gravitates toward the savory foods.
“If we’re posting about something hearty, a meal like that, that’s something that he’s loving. But the desserts, after every meal I have to get a dessert. I can’t go to bed unless I’ve had chocolate or something,” Olivia said.
Utah Grubs has extended its influence to BYU students such as junior Ellie Lewis, who found the account after following similar food-oriented accounts while studying abroad in London. When she returned home, Lewis decided to search for an account that had a similar theme in Utah.
“It’s always good to look through and see recommendations,” Lewis said. “Whenever I see (Utah Grubs) on my Instagram account and it’s a place that I’ve already been, I’ll consider getting the food if it’s a good picture.”
Due to the rise of the account’s popularity, Olivia admitted that she’s been learning as she goes along. She said she has always had an eye for photography, but at first taking pictures of food put her outside of her comfort zone.
“When the account started most of the pictures were on my iPhone. I was in dark lighting, maybe the angle was wrong. I’ve always known what looks okay but I’ve definitely gotten better as things go on,” Olivia said.
While the couple does not charge for their posts, they have received a few perks as a result of their promotion. Olivia revealed that most restaurants provide them with a complimentary meal in exchange for a picture or post.
“We get treated like royalty at the restaurants we go to because they want to make a good impression or something. It’s kind of like we’re reviewing their restaurant,” Will said. “It’s pretty nice when we’re going places and they’re wanting us to go post stuff.”
This positive relationship between the Gochnours and restaurants goes both ways. Olivia explained their overall goal is to help new restaurants gain publicity and get the word out.
“We are so proud of business owners and all they sacrifice to open their own restaurant, so we’d love to help them succeed in the small business scene in Utah,” Olivia said.