Paola’s Restaurant Keeps Customers Coming Back for Traditional Italian Cuisine by Expanding Reach with Yext
Paola’s Restaurant in New York City cultivates a timeless atmosphere that charms customers and critics alike. Chef and Owner Paola Bottero immigrated to America as a teenager and brought with her the culinary traditions and hospitality of an Italian home. In 1983, Bottero opened her eponymous restaurant in its first location on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and fourteen years later earned a two-star review from The New York Times. The restaurant, in its current location at 92nd Street and Madison Avenue, is in the same building as the historic Wales Hotel. Paola’s has become an icon of the Carnegie Hill neighborhood and a dining destination for neighbors and celebrities alike. “Having the opportunity to serve the generations of families who come in together for dining moments is my greatest gift yet,” says Chef Bottero.
An authentic neighborhood gem for Italian cuisine, Paola’s resists the latest culinary trends and instead focuses on recreating the classic dishes from Rome. “We import many fine ingredients from Italy, and we source produce from local Hudson Valley farms,” says Chef Bottero, whose kitchen handmakes pasta and pastries each day. “But we are not based in ‘trendy Brooklyn,’ so our challenge is to make this restaurant appealing to new customers who might not live in the Carnegie Hill vicinity.”
Seeking this prominence and recognition beyond her loyal neighborhood, Bottero sought assistance with public relations and marketing. Enter Wendy Weinstein Karp, a consultant in the restaurant, food, and beverage industry. “In my last corporate role I was the Director of Global Marketing for San Pellegrino mineral water,” she explains, “and in this capacity, I worked with restaurants as a primary channel of distribution. Through the Italian experience and the food and beverage networks, Paola Bottero and I got connected.”
Immediately, Weinstein saw that Paola’s online branding needed a refresh. “When I took inventory of the brand’s digital presence, I found it needed consistent and contemporary presentation across the channels. If you went to Paola’s and had lunch or dinner, you would have a fantastic meal. Everything would look beautiful — the china, plates, the whole experience. But online, Paola’s was not presenting itself in a way that was up to today’s standards.”
Difficulty finding the restaurant’s current location through search was a particularly pressing issue for Chef Bottero when she hired Weinstein. “For over thirty years there has been only one Paola’s Restaurant, but this is its third location. When I hired Wendy to do marketing and public relations, she said to me, ‘You moved physically, but you didn’t move your digital knowledge with you. Location is a necessity and a big opportunity for restaurateurs. Today, being an excellent restaurateur has evolved from simply cooking to include a critical new ingredient — restau-tech!’ And one of the tools in my ‘restau-tech’ toolbox now is Yext.”
Weinstein was willing to take on each listing and publisher by hand for Paola’s, if need be, but first she wanted to see what technological solutions were available. “I thought,” recalls Weinstein, “that there must be something out there to help me. Instead of me going in, one by one, claiming the business, I wanted something to help me make those updates all at once. I knew I could get to the most important websites, but to clean up Paola’s digital presence quickly and everywhere, I struggled with how to do that. Location is such a necessity and a significant opportunity for restaurateurs, yet most really don’t have big budgets for search engine optimization,” she explains. “And then I found Yext.”
Paola’s Restaurant Uses Yext to Improve Its Digital Knowledge, Making Sure Its Presentation Online Matches Its Presentation on the Plate
“With Yext,” says Chef Bottero, “Paola’s has been able to push out the correct data to dozens of search result sites and constantly optimize and update imagery, menu information, and other branding details. It solves the ‘where did they go’ issue for my restaurant given our multiple location changes.” Today Paola’s website has also been updated, and the restaurant has furthermore been able to own and optimize search, social media, and user-review sites such as Yelp and OpenTable.
Chef Bottero understands that running a restaurant in today’s world means being equally active in the kitchen and online. “The truth of the matter is, for a restaurateur, you go to work and your day never goes as planned,” she concedes. “Someone doesn’t show up, or the computer is down. Yext is a vital tool, a virtual digital manager, in my cooking-hospitality toolbox. It’s like more staff — a helper!” Reflecting on the restaurant industry at large, Bottero recognizes that digital knowledge management online is increasingly important to bringing diners in through her establishment’s doors. “There is an increasing digital divide between what chefs know and what we need to know. The ability to bridge that gap is where Yext comes in.”