This friday’s child wasn’t always full of grace by Nicky Clarke, @fri_child
There I was, stood in the rain, once again wasting my Friday night queuing for a restaurant that didn’t take reservations only to be treated like shit once I got inside.
But making it inside was only the beginning. I’d then be pushed, shoved and squashed into a corner uncomfortably close to people I’d never met before. Then I’d be told there was no menu and the chef churned out whatever the hell he liked whenever the hell he liked. Next I’d be overcharged for a couple of tiny sharing plates of kale and other nonsense trend food, drink sugary-sweet cocktails out of milk bottles or worse, jars, and traipse home angry. Again.
Without naming names, it was an experience much like the one above (though there was a menu, granted) that inspired friday’s child. There are loads of blogs, newsletters and websites out there telling people where to go and what to do, but so much of the focus is on what’s hot right now. So whilst it’s great to read about these here-today-gone-tomorrow pop-ups or 12-cover restaurants, it’s absolutely pointless actually trying to go to one of these places on a Friday night – which is when you’d actually want to go to one of them – because a zillion other people have had the same idea and are also standing in the rain waiting. God knows who’s actually inside if you can’t book?
Frustrated, I decided to sift out the shit and create a weekly, weekend guide that provided an edit in the truest sense of the word: just three recommendations – one for Friday, one for Saturday and one for Sunday – that balanced the trendy with the more traditional (you know, places you can actually go to). So whilst I may write about that hot new table in an edition of friday’s child, I’ll make sure that the other two recommendations are more accessible and down-to-earth. Places you can book. Or places that have been open a while and aren’t heaving from hype.
So friday’s child was born, and it seems to be a hit with Londoners. Particularly media folk and those in the hospitality industry. Bankers, too – which I didn’t see coming. Arriving in inboxes every Friday, it’s a short, sharp blast of insider info that you read once then bin. Unless you redeem one of the reader perks, in which case you might need to show friday’s child on your phone.
I had the idea of including perks for my readers to make a night out special again by giving them access to something otherwise unavailable to the general public. A complimentary drink on arrival (who doesn’t like a freebie?) or something secret and off-menu (we all like to be in the know). It’s not necessarily the monetary value of perks that is making them popular, but the fact that readers are feeling special whenever they go into one of the restaurants or bars I’m recommending. I went to Red Dog South recently, where I’d negotiated a free beer with them for any reader who ordered The Devastator burger (it’s big!) and quoted friday’s child. Someone next to me had ordered it but obviously wasn’t a subscribers, so I told him about the perk and it made his night. We all like to be privy to information others are not – it’s basic psychology!
I’m only on my 12edition, but so far, so good. Subscribers are going up with each one I send out, and engagement is fantastic: I’m getting dozens of emails every Friday asking me for places to eat and drink at the weekend. It’s always nice to get to know your readers, so I’m making sure I providing them with good advice and asking them for feedback. A few have suggested daily content on the site itself, which I’m considering.
In short, London is a noisy city, and I hope that friday’s child cuts through all of it to offer a reliable guide for the weekend. We’ve never been more time-poor, so it’s important we make every Friday count.
And not be standing outside restaurants in the rain.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nicky Clarke is editor of friday’s child, a weekly, weekend guide delivered to inboxes every Friday. A self-confessed magazine junkie, Nicky has written for the likes of The Independent, The Guardian, Wallpaper*, Attitude, livingETC, 25 Beautiful Homes and Grand Designs, and continues to put pen to paper regularly for the travel pages in OK! and AskMen.com.
When he’s not writing, he’s a hedonist at heart who loves fine-dining and imbibing (martinis, mostly), travel (not the backpacking sort) and film (Hollywood blockbusters over independent, artsy nonsense).