The Provo Local Foodie Instagram account is approaching its one-year anniversary of showing Provo and Orem residents the best small restaurants in the area.
Tim Jafek created Provo Local Foodie on Sept. 17, 2022, after interacting with customers at the Taste 117 chocolate shop on University Ave. The customers asked restaurant workers if they knew of any good places to get food for bridal showers.
Jafek overheard and struck up a conversation with them, recommending a number of different food options.
“I realized how much I really loved being involved in the food scene,” Jafek said. “I wondered if I can make anything bigger from that?”
Jafek has traveled to more than 250 restaurants in the Provo and Orem area, trying out the food they have to offer. From Italian, Greek, Chinese, Korean, Venezuelan and Peruvian, Jafek has tried more than 20 different types of cuisine in the area.
One restaurant Jafek visited, Bun Boiz, is a steamed bun shop operating in Provo. The restaurant offers steamed buns filled with different types of meat or vegetables, as well as a dessert bun. Jafek frequented Bun Boiz while it was still being run out of owner Jimmy Watson’s house.
“I love Provo Local Foodie and I’m happy to help them out, they’ve helped us out a bunch,” Watson said.
Watson said he will give Jafek discounts “here and there” as thanks for the number of customers Jafek has brought in. He said a number of customers reference a small card Jafek hands out, the Provo Local Foodie Card, which has a list of restaurants he recommends.
“I’ve definitely see a difference in the number of customers,” Watson said. “They’ll talk about how they’ve seen my restaurant from him or from his card.”
Jafek posted four main requirements to make it onto the Provo Local Foodie Award Winners card on Instagram.
“Requirements to win:
– You are a 5 ⭐ restaurant (regardless of what the reviews say)
– You are a local restaurant or the owner is an awesome Provo local
– I would take someone on a FIRST date to this restaurant (yeah, they’re ALL that good) 🔥🔥🔥
– You are better than any fast food restaurants I’ve ever been to. Period.”
Jafek says he plans on releasing a new card with winners for 2023 in December.
“It’ll be at the end of 2023, since I’ll wait for any new ones to open,” Jafek said. “I actually have edited the 2022 winners a couple of times to stay current with new restaurants.”
Originally, Jafek was planning on turning his Provo Local Foodie card into a diner card, partnering with restaurants to give first time patrons 10% off. However, after talking with several restaurant owners, he decided to instead use it to encourage students to expand their palate.
“I want the Provo Foodie movement to benefit the students in my community and also benefit the restaurants in Provo,” Jafek said.
Jesse Nebeker, one of Jafek’s friends, was there when he first printed out the small cards to give to students around Provo. Nebeker used to eat at a variety of different restaurants with his older brother, but stopped after his brother moved away. While hanging out with Jafek, the two of them have been to many different restaurants.
“It’s been nice to have that variety back,” Nebeker said. “I’m a creature of habit so I tend to eat at the same places for my different meals.”
Jafek said the adventure of trying new restaurants is the part that counts, rather than the food itself. Occasionally, when he has a bad food experience, it does not taint his restaurant experience. Sharing his experiences and encouraging people to try local food and build community is one of his main goals.
“Ultimately, the reason why I review food and why I have this page is not because of the food, but because I want to help build community,” he said.