FAIR LAWN, N.J.– Michael Arp of Fair Lawn has two vices: beer and bacon.
With a love of food and need for a creative outlet, Arp started The Blue Collar Foodie blog, on which he reviews Mom-and-Pop shops, hoping to spread the word and keep these businesses around.
“It’s a hobby that turned into a part-time job I don’t get paid for,” he told Daily Voice. “I try not to let these places disappear.”
Arp came up with the concept back in June of 2012 after visiting a South Jersey pizzeria, owned by his wife’s family, that had no social media presence.
Through his blog, Arp gives small businesses “a voice,” he said.
“I go in blind,” said the Elmwood Park native, who reviews only those establishments with high price points on special occasions -- and with a disclaimer: “not for the faint of heart.”
He’s usually joined by his wife, Kathy, who also serves as his editor.
They order a sampling of food – and craft beer, if the restaurant serves it – of which Arp takes pictures. He also photographs and reviews the entire experience, including the ambiance and decor.
If the couple enjoys their meal, Arp posts a review on his site, and shares it across his various social media platforms.
“It’s just to get the word out on these businesses so I can go back in 5 years and it’s still going to be there,” said Arp, a full-time employee at a local college. “I knew it was taking off when people were contacting me for suggestions.”
If the meal isn’t up to par, the duo will give the eatery a second chance.
“I don’t write bad reviews. i just won’t write,” said Arp, a cicerone (certified beer expert).
Thanks to the blog’s success, Arp became a judge at the Beer BBQ Bacon Showdown .
There are five beer/food pairings for him to review.
“Pairing food with beer is more fun because you have more options, from your hefeweizens down to your stouts,” Arp said.