Why Larry Carius started the Bloomington-Normal Restaurant Scene Facebook page – and why he doesn't consider himself a journalist
There’s a lot going on in the restaurant world in McLean County, from new entries to longtime favorites closing their doors.
Larry Carius follows all of it on his popular Bloomington-Normal Restaurant Scene Facebook page. In this interview for WGLT’s Sound Ideas, Carius recaps some of his biggest recent stories. But first, the retired health department food inspector talked about how his hobby became the most popular blog in town, with over 38,000 followers.
“It was not my idea to start it. It was my wife’s (Kay's) idea. I retired (in 2008) from the McLean County Health Department after 40 years. I don’t have many hobbies. I don’t play golf. I don’t like to sit around and drink coffee with other old people,” Carius said. “So when I retired from the health department, I kind of retired to my recliner in the TV room. My wife Kay saw there was a problem developing.”
Around that time, other media outlets were scaling back their coverage of the local restaurant scene, Carius said. His connections – and his affinity for Facebook – gave him an opening.
Carius posts about openings and closings, often multiple times a week. He builds relationships with his sources (typically business owners), interviews them, summarizes and posts the most important information, and then closely watches readership trends on the Facebook page. His posts are widely shared across Facebook, reaching well beyond those 38,000 followers.
Kay, his wife, is an integral part of the Facebook page. She's the "managing editor" who keeps track of Larry's calendar, copy-edits the posts, and chases down stories with him.
But Carius said he doesn’t consider himself a journalist, despite being one of the most popular sources of information in Bloomington-Normal. He doesn't get paid for his work.
“And if you notice, when I write, I sit down and talk to one person. That person is the restaurant owner. We sit down and talk. I make copious notes. When I go home and write it up, the computer I have at home is a different type of computer: It doesn’t start at night unless there’s a glass of wine aside of it,” Carius mused. “And all I do is write what the person told me.”
In this latest WGLT check-in interview, Carius discussed:
- The opening of the Kickapoo Tearoom and Boutique in Downs
- Duckpin bowling coming to the BloNo Pizza Co. location in west Normal
- The Mediterranean restaurant Taverna coming to northeast Normal
- The opening of the Eatery at Crafted in east Bloomington
- Three new openings and relocations coming to Uptown Normal
- The closure of Mandarin Garden in Normal – and Larry and Kay’s special last meal
You can like the Bloomington-Normal Restaurant Scene page on Facebook.