Miya Nazzaro used to be a member of Facebook pages that were intended for people to promote and support restaurants around the Seattle area by creating a digital space to share photos of food from local businesses.
She said she could not keep herself from coming back to those Facebook pages for the promise of new photos of deliciously beautiful food from around the area.
But like many online forums, she said those pages often turned ugly.
Nazzaro said she grew tired of the negativity in those digital spaces, with people often using the page to bash restaurants or vainly argue with each other.
She felt people were losing sight of what these spaces were supposed to be about — promoting restaurants in the community.
“It was detracting from the economic support of the restaurants,” she said.
So during the summer of 2020, when local businesses most needed help, Nazzaro created her own Facebook page, the Seattle Minority Owned Restaurant Support.
The forum is intended only to be a positive and inclusive digital space free from “restaurant bashing.”
Those looking to become members of the page easily can do so. They just have to ask first and agree to a set of rules and guidelines that Nazzaro deliberately created to maintain a positive and supportive environment for restaurants of all kinds.
Even though the name suggests that only minority-owned restaurants can be featured on the page, Nazzaro said that is not the case. She said she wants the space to be inclusive of ethnic, religious and LGBTQ+ minority-owned businesses as well as all others.
“I am not a gatekeeper,” she said. “In the end it is about supporting the community as a whole.”
The group now has about 2,800 members who are posting new pictures of tasty and unique food every day.
“The point is to get people to try out new restaurants,” Nazzaro said.
With the help of some other passionate community members, Nazzaro has helped to develop an interactive map that charts over 170 businesses as far north as Everett and as far south as Lakewood.
The map even categorizes businesses by whether they offer sweet or savory foods. They even have boba tea shops in their own category because there are so many in the region.
The SMORS map also recognizes businesses that will feed people even if they cannot afford a meal as a way to honor businesses that have made an “unbelievable contribution to our community.”
Right now, Nazzaro does not make money from maintaining the SMORS page, but she hopes to merge her photo promotion business Out of the Box Fun with her passion for delicious food photography.