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FAIRFIELD COUNTY MOM STEPHANIE WEBSTER ON THE SUCCESS OF CT BITES

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by Karen Demeter

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Stephanie Webster, a Westport-based mother of three, shares her passion for food and restaurants on her innovative website CTBites.com, which has become a destination for Fairfield County's food lovers.

 

Quick Stats: Stephanie and her husband David  moved from Seattle to Fairfield County in 2008 with their three daughters, Rebecca, 9, Samantha, 6, and Zoe, 4.

Stephanie Webster; CT Bites; Fairfield County, CT; CTBites.com  There's an age-old adage: Do what you love and the money will come. Stephanie Webster's original intent for CT Bites was to simply share her knowledge and passion for restaurants, gourmet shops, and food in general. It's always been a point of pride for her to be the person everyone went to for information on the best cookie, the best restaurant, the best bagel. A website would allow her to reach not just friends, but the community as well.

   Having come from Manhattan and Seattle, where the food scene is well known and right outside your doorstep, Stephanie felt it was more challenging to find good restaurants and gourmet shops in the suburbs. Enlisting the help of friends, neighbors, professional cooks, and other Fairfield food lovers, CT Bites has become a popular destination for finding restaurant reviews, product information, recipes, and how-to videos.

   Since launching in July 2009, CT Bites has grown from a few hundred unique users to more than 6,000 a month. With that kind of trajectory, CT Bites is poised to attract advertisers and to branch out to other suburban markets.

 

What was your prior career? 
I was a photo editor at a travel magazine right out of college and got into new media. I ended up at an agency basically doing strategy and website development. I did the first Toys R Us website, and stopped when I had my first child. I've done huge quantities of volunteering, which was satisfying, but in the end it wasn't quite enough.

 

You originally started CT Bites to address the dearth of information on restaurants in Fairfield County, correct?
When I came here, I wasn't really excited to be in the suburbs. I thought "If I'm going to make it in the suburbs, I better start looking. I better find places to go out and eat."  I realized when I started looking that you have to eat a lot of food to find these places. So now people can just go to the website.

 

How would you describe CT Bites?
It's everything foodie in Fairfield County. It is reviews, local artisans, hot new products, and kid's events that are food related. The focus is not on the fancy places or the places that are established which everyone already knows about. It's anything related to food, but it is the best of food.

 

Where does your love of food come from?
My father is a serious diehard foodie. Our weekends were planned based on what we were eating. We had to go here for the black and white cookies and we had to go there for the knishes. Sunday night was always Chinatown. I have my father's taste buds. We can be sitting eating a meal and we're talking about tomorrow's meal.

 

Can you include your children in this endeavor?
They like food and they've really jumped aboard this whole process. I would really like to start getting kids' reviews. Restaurants all have kids' menus. People are constantly looking for places to schlep their kids to, so that's something we'd like to do in the future.

 

What future plans do you have for CT Bites?
There are a couple of columns, like Chef's Talk and Road Trip, we're just starting. I'd like to see them filled out so it's more robust and then you can sell advertising in those sections. Also, I would like a business partner who could spin this out. It really couldn't be rolled out to urban centers because they're already covered. It's the suburbs that are not covered. You can do this nationwide. You can do this in a million suburbs across the country.

 

Any advice for moms wanting to start their own website?
The culture of blogging is exploding these days, especially amongst women. You have to have a very specific point of view. And whatever it is, define it, think about it and get it straight in your head before you start writing. If you're consistent and strong in what you're communicating, I think the market comes afterward. And I think you have to be passionate about what you're doing. The balancing is tough and it's hard. I'm very obsessive-compulsive. It's hard for me to turn it off. It's a labor of love.

 

 

For more information about Stephanie Webster and CT Bites visit www.ctbites.com.


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