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Boston Business Journal - September 17-23, 1999

Local magazine helps answer question, Where to eat?

by Donna L Goodison, Journal Staff

Where to eat? Where to eat?

With the state's strong economy putting more disposal income into residents'pockets, restaurant dining has become a more viable and frequent option. Those wishing to try new spots can rely on acquaintances' recommendations, read reviews or 90 forth blindly on whims.

Then there's Where to Eat, a locally produced magazine whose fall/winter edition hits stores on Nov. 1.

"Our intention was really to answer the question, "where to eat?," which we say is always one of the most commonly asked questions," co-publisher Jill Epstein said. "It really was to solve our daily dining dilemma.

The new $6.95 publication, which will come out twice this year, gives full-page recaps of participating Boston and Cambridge restaurants by neighborhoods. There are sample menus for each restaurant and a breakdown of particulars, including cuisine types, price ranges, World Wide Web sites, hours, dress codes, reservation policies, accepted payments and parking information. "As a public relations director, I think it's a wonderful publication," said Christopher Langley, who handles publicity for Rialto, a Cambridge restaurant that advertises in the magazine, and Red Clay of Chestnut Hill. "I love the fact that its really easy to look through it's really user-friendly.

The premiere issue of Where to Eat debuted in May with 74 restaurants. The next edition will include approximately 100 restaurants, and coverage will expand to Somerville.

"We've tried to include places of all levels that would be really good solutions for everyone," Epstein said. "We've really tried to create a range for people."

Epstein's sales pitch convinced Karen Densmore to include her restaurant in Where to Eat.

"I think Jill ... just makes a very good first impression," said Densmore, the general manager-owner of Truc, a restaurant in Boston's South End. "Her salesmanship had a lot to do with my decision. I liked the whole idea of her concept."

Densmore said the publication provides a more upscale form of advertising for Truc and more comprehensive information than other restaurant guides such as the Zagat Survey.

The 27-year-old Epstein was working as a graphic designer when she conceived the idea for Where to Eat, which is co-published with Tracy Roberts under the auspices of Spire, a Boston-based marketing communications firm. Roberts is creative director of Spire's creative services division.

Publishers Tracy Roberts and Jill Epstein want their magazine to help readers solve their daily dining "dilemmas."

The magazine is geared toward two markets: area patrons who will generate loyal business for restaurants and tourists.

Where to Eat is available through and 400 retail outlets such as Stop & Shop, Shaw's, Bread & Circus and the travel sections of national bookstore chains Barnes & Noble and Borders Books.

When the next issue is published, Where to Eat will be in the guest rooms of five area hotels, including Le Meridien and the Park Plaza. Epstein also is targeting tourists through hotel concierges.

More than 20,000 copies of the first edition have been distributed, a large numberthrough cross promotions and giveaways. Four thousand customers of Hannaford Brothers' HomeRuns online grocery delivery service received Where to Eat copies in their shopping bags. One thousand complimentary copies were given away at the recent U.S. Pro Championships at Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline, and another promotion will coincide with the upcoming Ryder Cup.

The Where to Eat staff will branch into corporate sales this winter, allowing companies to purchase copies with customized covers or inside pages for use as holiday and client gifts.

Epstein also is concentrating on publishing abbreviated pages of Where to Eat on the company's web site.

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