Charlotte, NC food trucks gain business from TikTok videos
In what should have been a regular Wednesday night in November, Charlotte’s Another Food Truck doubled its sales — all due to one post on the social media platform TikTok.
Wynee Bermudez, the blogger behind the TikTok account @wyneesworld, shares videos showcasing and reviewing the Charlotte food scene. She’s made trips to local businesses including Another Food Truck and What the Fries. Bermudez’s video of local food truck What The Fries from July received over 2 million views. And a video from November of Another Food Truck received half a million.
Because of the exposure, sales at Another Food Truck increased — and not just marginally. Co-owner Anthony Denning said sales more than tripled the day after her post, and the company’s Instagram gained 3,000 followers in less than a week.
Denning said his fiancee invited Bermudez to check out the food truck. When Bermudez did stop by, Denning said she showed “real support” and ordered one of almost everything. She gave the food truck a 10 out of 10 in her video.
“Every day we have new followers,” Denning said. “Every day my phone is ringing — ‘Hey, I saw you on TikTok.’”
And it’s all because of Wynee’s World.
Bermudez first started blogging when she moved to Miami, Florida, after graduating from college. Most of the content she found was specific to cities like New York City or Los Angeles. Her first blog was specific to Miami cocktails and wine, under the fitting name “Wynee and Wines.”
In 2016, after she began traveling, her blog underwent a transformation. Focusing on food and travel, she renamed it Wynee’s World.
Bermudez moved back to Charlotte and her home state of North Carolina in 2018. As she began traveling less, she began focusing her content on the Charlotte food scene more. Bermudez noticed that typically people in the South think of places like Nashville or Charleston for a rich food culture.
“I do think that our food scene is very underrated,” Bermudez said.
To decide where she goes next, Bermudez said she keeps a running list of restaurants, food trucks and other places to try in the Charlotte area. “I try to keep it very consistent in terms of not showing too many of the same things at once, so the list definitely helps me,” Bermudez said.
Bermudez’s start on TikTok began as just a joke, with random videos and posts. She credits the beginning of her rising TikTok fame to a video of QuesaBirria tacos from Maria’s Mexican Restaurant she posted at the end of June this year.
Bermudez said not even 24 hours later, the short video went viral. Now, the video has over a million views. On the Maria’s menu, this dish is even listed “as featured on TikTok.”
“And it’s been nonstop since then,” Bermudez said.
At the time of Maria’s post, she had about 200 followers. By September, that number increased to 35,000. Most recently, Bermudez hit a milestone — 50,000 followers.
As her following has rapidly grown, she still says TikTok is an “unpredictable beast.”
“All of the videos that I think are going to do well don’t do as well as the ones where I just randomly post,” she said.
Bermudez said she grew her following by frequently going live on the app. While going live, she broadcasts herself in the moment, and users can leave comments and interactions in real time. Part of the TikTok algorithm means that when Bermudez is live, her videos are pushed out to more people, amplifying her reach.
Compared to other social media platforms, Bermudez described TikTok as more authentic and less curated. “I think the appeal to TikTok is that you are just a regular person, posting about your life,” she said.
Part of this authenticity comes from omitting edits and filters. Her videos are all shot on her iPhone. Bermudez then puts the clips together, records a voiceover and adds whatever song or sound she is feeling in the moment. “It depends on my mood that day,” she said with a laugh.
Her increased following also translates to the ability to monetize. With the TikTok Creator Fund, first launched in late July, the views on Bermudez’s posts now generate cents. Every month, she receives a balance. Before, TikTok creators could make money only through ads, often at a flat rate.
A growing influence in the Charlotte food scene
Bermudez has noticed that her videos showcasing takeout and casual places tend to do better on the app than her videos of fine dining experiences. “I think food trucks do well because of that,” she said.
Denning said the customer base at Another Food Truck has grown since Bermudez’s post. People have driven from Georgia, South Carolina and all parts of North Carolina — the business has even had a customer visit from California.
And when they arrive, Denning said the first thing they say is, “We saw you on TikTok.”
“We went from being moderately busy to being out-of-control busy, to the point where I had to hire staff,” he said.
Alicia Barnes, the administrative director for What The Fries, said in an email that Bermudez’s video brought national attention to the food truck at a time when business was already booming. The company had seen a surge in sales over the spring and summer, and it had been consistently selling out with increased support for local and Black-owned businesses in Charlotte.
“Wynee’s post absolutely added to our evolving presence in the community and it helped us keep our sales at an all time high,” Barnes said in the email.
With her growing TikTok following, Bermudez said she knows she serves a resource for Charlotteans. “It’s not something that I take lightly,” she said.
Through her TikTok account and her blog, Bermudez said she aims to continue to support local Charlotte businesses, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when restaurants need it the most.
While she is often invited to try new restaurants, Bermudez said she discloses when she eats or receives anything for free. “I want them to know that I am trustworthy enough to when I get invited somewhere for free, I let them know,” she said.
Denning and Barnes said overall they are grateful for Bermudez and other food bloggers in Charlotte.
“When foodies like Wynee show us love, it always helps us in the greatest way,” Barnes said in an email.
Now Another Food Truck is looking to expand by purchasing another truck or opening a storefront to create a consistent flow through the pandemic.
“I have been telling my fiancee this, and I just haven’t had time because it’s been so busy, to reach out to Wynee — but she will never ever have to pay for another meal, ever,” Denning said with a laugh.