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Creating a Feeding Frenzy

Kalamazoo Menu

If there is one positive takeaway from our current situation, it is increased appreciation for and support of locally owned businesses. Bars and restaurants throughout Kalamazoo have benefited greatly from one business’ effort to ensure that these establishments survive the pandemic. We are, of course, referring to Kalamazoo Menu, which was formed after its creator visited a friend’s bar this past March.

“When the executive order that prohibited dine-in services was made, I was out at O’Duffy’s Pub,” Mark Liddle recalled. “I was thinking about how huge St. Patrick’s Day weekend was supposed to be for businesses and the financial impact it was going to cause.”

Mark Liddle

Realizing something had to be done, Liddle created the Kalamazoo Menu Facebook page and sent invites to 70 of his friends. Within three days, 8,000 people joined the group and the concept snowballed from there. Now with a website, Instagram, army of volunteers, and 36,000 Facebook followers, Kalamazoo Menu has grown well beyond anyone’s expectations.

This quick surge in popularity is in large part thanks to the efforts of Beth Morrison, who began connecting with television and radio stations to spread the word of this emerging culinary resource.

“From the beginning, our intentions were to help make a difference and stay positive,” Morrison explained. “We were very nervous about what was going to happen, as it was an unintentional platform that just blew up overnight. The positive feedback that we have received has been emotionally overwhelming.”

Beth Morrison

Liddle agreed with this sentiment, remarking that the appreciation they have received has been both surprising and motivating.

“The stories people have shared with us and the gratitude they have displayed is moving,” he said. “I never thought this project would have such an impact, so it really brings me happiness knowing we are helping people.”

In addition to the gratification that comes with supporting the city’s bar and restaurant scene, Kalamazoo Menu has also exposed the pair to new dining options that they had never experienced.

“We have really enjoyed trying new places that we had previously never heard of,” Morrison said. “Some of the things we have been trying around town include tacos, ice cream, and pizza.”

With all of the community support behind this idea, it is natural to wonder what’s next for Kalamazoo Menu?

“It seems irresponsible to not continue Kalamazoo Menu,” Morrison said of the project’s future. “After this is all over, we would like to see how well Kalamazoo restaurants fare in comparison to other cities.”

Currently, Kalamazoo Menu has “Menuship Cards” for sale that offer exclusive discounts to customers while donating a share of the proceeds to nonprofits such as Portage Rocket Football and The Arc.

“We have made a small business out of this project by putting our own money behind it and even acquiring an LLC,” Liddle added. “I joke that one day, I am going to write a book about the experience titled, ‘The Accidental Business.’”

Accidental or not, we sure are glad to have a helpful resource for the next time we get hungry. Interested in registering your eatery with Kalamazoo Menu? Visit its Owners Sign Up page and follow the prompts to get your listing in front of more than 36,000 followers.

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