Winnie Fan ’19 is a Bio-Chem concentrator, Connect for Health Campus Coordinator, Bonner Fellow, Kappa Alpha Theta member, and Yelp check-in aficionado. Blog met with Winnie to discuss finding the humor in social media, cooking full meals in toaster ovens, and the secret world of Yelp Elite.
Blog: You’re known around campus as a person who checks in on Yelp all the time. Why did you start?
Winnie: It started because—I think this is going to be a super big, like, “woah” thing—if you check in on Yelp at The Creperie you get 25% off.
What?! How did you find that out?
See, no one knows about it! [I found out because] someone was checking in in front of me. So it started with that, but now most of my Yelp check-ins don’t have discounts.
So what’s the point? Why do you do it?
I think it’s just to take social media not very seriously. I post a lot of weird stuff on Facebook. My sophomore year I had this very successful post when I was like, “Like for your veg.” So I posted [on people’s walls] really random stuff [like,] “You’re a peppercorn because you’re a peppery man!”
How many likes did it get?
Did you give everyone a vegetable?
Most of them.
Also, when I started checking in on Yelp, I thought maybe I could work myself up to Yelp Elite. That requires a lot of reviews, but they said I could appeal if I write that I’m using the check-in function more than the review function.
And what is Yelp Elite?
Supposedly I’ll write an email to them and if I’m accepted I’ll be invited to Yelp Elite parties, like food parties and openings of restaurants. Usually people get it through writing a lot of reviews, but I think pictures with one-line captions are much easier.
Do you know anyone who is in Yelp Elite?
No, but I do stalk some of the Providence mothers.*
How often do you eat out?
I eat out almost once a day. I’m off meal plan, and New Dorm doesn’t have a kitchen so it’s kind of hard to cook. I try to cook everything in a toaster oven and microwave…I’ll show you a picture. (See below.)
A toaster-prepared meal of tomatoes, brussel sprouts, and carnitas.
I’m the queen of the toaster oven. The food I make is pretty good-looking, but the thing is, it tastes bad. So I eat out a lot.
Do people ever talk to you about your Yelp reviews? Any funny reactions?
So I didn’t know it became a thing because I’m just kind of randomly posting, until I went to a pregame and this random guy was like, “I see you check in on Yelp.” And I was like, “Wow, my life is exposed!” I never scroll through newsfeeds so I never know if people do that, but I guess they do.
Another time I went to Sakura for sushi with friends and it was my second day [in a row] going to Sakura—one day I posted on Yelp but the other day I didn’t—and I saw a friend when I was in line for the bathroom and they were like, “Weren’t you at Sakura yesterday?” Another time I was at Benefit Juice Bar and someone called them, and the Benefit Juice Bar lady was like, “Is your name Winnie Fan?” I was like, “Yes,” and she was like, “This person wanted to tell you what to get here.” I was, like, shaken, and my friend was like, “This is freaky!” and everyone in Benefit Juice Bar was laughing. So I do feel like people know where I am at all times.
What are the top three places around here that you’d recommend?
I love BYOB and I think Bee’s Thai has the best BYOB environment. For family dinner, Red Stripe has the best deals, because it’s a nice restaurant, but Monday through Thursday they have a $10 burger-beer combo, or $10 chicken parm and beer, and they do Mussel Mondays. For ice cream, Froyo World has my heart. It cures the SciLi late nights.
What’s the worst place?
Salted Slate. Their steak is too chewy! It’s also too expensive. And whatever hurts my wallet hurts my feelings.
Do you think you’re going to keep doing this indefinitely?
I feel like I’ll keep doing it until I find like something else to do…but I do enjoy it. I think on campus, the best thing is just grabbing a meal with people and talking. So I’m always like, “Do you want to grab a meal with me? I’ll Yelp check you in, wink,” (laughs). Nothing else I can offer but a Yelp check-in.
Would you ever consider working for Yelp?
Honestly, yeah. I would. I went to their luncheon for free Kabob and Curry—I was a little disappointed that they served Kabob and Curry—but I think it would be fun. I think they should at least sponsor me with some Yelp swag. If you want to, you know, “at” Yelp for me…
We’ll tag them on Twitter.
*On Yelp only.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Images via Winnie Fan ’19.