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How this Utah-based group of women is supporting restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic

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A Trisha Sandwich from Feldman’s Deli in Salt Lake City, as featured by Female Foodie.

Brooke Eliason

SALT LAKE CITY — Life is too short to eat bad food.

Such is the philosophy of Female Foodie, a women-powered website dedicated to providing unbiased and trustworthy restaurant recommendations.

“Really our only goal is just to share amazing food, so that people can discover the best of the city that they’re dining in,” said Brooke Eliason, a Salt Lake City native and creator of Female Foodie.

Eliason started Female Foodie in 2010 when she was working as a waitress in West Yellowstone, Montana, over the summer while she was a student at Utah State University.

“In this particular town, there are so many restaurants because it’s a touristy town, and so I decided that I would try all of these restaurants and document the experience of that through writing and pictures on a really simple blog,” Eliason said.

She continued the effort when she eventually transferred to the University of Utah and moved back to Salt Lake City, where Female Foodie took off.

“Now we have over 20 female food writers in different major metropolitan cities across the country like Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Denver, New York City, Boston and Chicago, and more to come,” Eliason said.

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Brooke Eliason, a Salt Lake City native and creator of Female Foodie.

Brooke Eliason

It’s a privilege to work with so many women who are passionate about what they do, according to Eliason. Female Foodie’s readership is also predominantly made up of women, of all walks of life from stay-at-home moms to professionals.

“Having an all-female operated team has provided us a great way to not only connect with our readers and our demographic, but to inspire and encourage other women to be creators and to share things that they’re passionate about,” Eliason said.

Female Foodie writers pay for all of their meals, never accept free food and only promote restaurants they feel “extremely enthusiastic about,” according to Eliason.

“We want people to know that when they come to Female Foodie, we’re not biased or swayed in any way, and we’re just sharing our candid, honest thoughts,” Eliason said.

For the last two years, the website has offered a Female Foodie Card with discounts to encourage Salt Lake City diners to try new restaurants.

“A lot of us fall into the trap of eating at the same three or four places over and over and over, and so by giving people a special deal or discount at these different restaurants, it’s really helped people to branch out a little bit and see that we really have some amazing food here locally in Salt Lake City,” Eliason said.

Female Foodie plans to sell the cards again this year around Black Friday and is exploring expanding beyond Salt Lake City.

“It sold out both years really fast, so we anticipate that every year we continue, it will sell out,” Eliason said. “We want it to be really exclusive, too. We want it to be for our really loyal readers who are really eager to get out and to eat at local family-owned businesses in Salt Lake City.”

Eliason said she thinks it’s important to support local restaurants because “they are the backbone of our city.”

“The backbone of our city is built around the entrepreneurs who are bringing their ideas to Salt Lake City and bringing them to life,” Eliason said. “They’re providing high-quality cultural experiences so that we can grow together as a community and as families.”

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced many restaurants to cease or alter operations to prevent further spread of the disease, Female Foodie has also adapted its efforts.

“We made a big pivot to start featuring restaurant-inspired recipes on our website, knowing that a lot of people would not be able to leave their homes, even for takeout, so we wanted to kind of find a way to spotlight some of our favorite restaurants while still creating an experience for our readers,” Eliason said.

It has also been important to Eliason to showcase “all the extreme efforts that these restaurants are going to at this time to make dining a safe space.”

“I have been completely blown away by the organization and cleanliness and precautions that all of these restaurants are taking to ensure that the dining experience is safe for people,” Eliason said.

With sales decreasing dramatically, the reality right now is that restaurants are fighting to stay open and keep their employees working, according to Eliason.

“As a voice in the food community, I’ve tried to really share my experiences, which have been positive, to encourage our community to keep supporting these small businesses and to shop small and shop local when they can,” Eliason said.

Eliason’s biggest hope for Female Foodie, especially in 2020, is “that we can be intentional about rallying behind small businesses that really need our support and our help right now.”

“Without them, our neighborhoods and our city would look drastically different,” Eliason said. “It’s easy to sometimes support restaurants that are convenient or super familiar to us, but it only takes a couple of minutes to go out of your way to think about how you can put your dollars toward a family-owned business that really needs our support right now.”