Continue to Site

    Fast Casual Meets Speed Dating at Piada on Valentine's Day

  • The Columbus-based brand reached out to its fans on social media for a Valentine’s Day challenge, and fans fell hard for the promotion.

    Piada Italian Street Food
    Piada pulled out all the stops for its Valentine's Day promotion.

    Forget chocolates, roses, and a 5-star fare—this year, couples in Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Columbus were treated to a Valentine’s Day dinner they’ll never forget courtesy of Pinder. No, not Tinder.

    To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Italian street food concept Piada launched its Pinder promotion on Instagram, a play on the dating app “Tinder,” designed to pair two local singles up for a romantic dinner that wouldn’t break the bank. Fans in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas applied for the blind date then chose their favorites by voting on the restaurant’s Instagram story.

    Piada social media manager Bryant Miller says he’s a natural matchmaker, and that the idea was formed with fun as the intention. After narrowing down the field and receiving overwhelming feedback from fans, it’s clear the promotion was a resounding success.

    “Our goal for this was to tell our story, show our personality, but also just have fun with our fans,” Miller says. “We’re not here to sell a million plates on Valentine’s Day. This marketing campaign is all about interacting with our customers and having a good time.”

    Miller says that personal investment from Piada customers has given Pinder life. The promotion was anything but passive, and Miller says he could tell his promotion was working when he noticed just how many fans were watching every Instagram story to the very end so they could vote on the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes.

    In fact, even after winners were chosen, Miller continued to receive direct messages on the Piada account from other singles hoping to lock down dates with applicants who weren’t ultimately chosen.

    A couple celebrates Valentine's Day at Piada.
    Piada Italian Street Food

    Celebrating Valentine's Day in style at Piada.

    The special menu at Piada for Valentine's Day.
    Piada Italian Street Food

    The special menu at Piada featured some Valentine's Day-worthy courses.

    A couple celebrates Valentine's Day at Piada.
    Piada Italian Street Food

    “If they do get married. I’ll totally cater their wedding,” says Piada social media manager Bryant Miller.

    But the contest on Instagram, which was almost like a crowd-sourced season of The Bachelor, was only half of the fun. At each of the three locations, the blind daters were welcomed with fresh flowers and served throughout by each Piada’s managing chef. They were seated at tables with white linen tablecloths, photographed by staged paparazzi, and enjoyed desserts from local eateries to cap off the night.

    The idea for an overblown Valentine’s Day was inspired by another Columbus staple, White Castle, which lays out the white tablecloths each year on February 14. With the added romance that’s inherent in anything Italian, Piada of course had to turn it up a notch. But Miller says Piada’s fans have fully embraced the contest and its undeniable cheesiness.

    “We know that going on Valentine’s dates to Piada is ridiculous and over the top and hilarious, and I think people are in on the joke. They get what we’re trying to do, they know we’re just having fun,” Miller says.

    Of course, not everything from the contest is all fun and games. Each of the blind daters will also receive free Piada for a year, which, Miller admits, he thought would be the driving force behind singles applying to be chosen. But their applications were so in-depth, their convictions to be a Pinder single so clear, that the Piada staff couldn’t help but fall for each of the singles. Clearly, people were interested in more than just free pasta.

    As for the blind daters, Miller had some simple advice.

    “Have an open mind, have fun, don’t take it seriously,” he says. “And you never know what’s going to happen.”

    That’s true for both the couples and for Piada. Miller says the brand is always trying to keep things fresh, and that if Pinder were to return in 2019, there would be some fresh new tweaks to the system.

    For now, though, it’s all about the Pinder-picked Valentine sweethearts of this year. Miller says the dates went well, too—and that if there are wedding bells in the future, Piada might have to be a part of the couple tying the knot.

    “If they do get married,” Miller says. “I’ll totally cater their wedding.”