Prompt for Personal Writing Project

Prompt, Option 1

Working alone or in groups of 2-4, choose a restaurant to review. Research the restaurant on social media, Yelp, newspapers, etc.

Write a blog (3-5 pages, single spaced, including images), or record a vlog (video blog, mostly scripted and rehearsed, 7-10 minutes), on a website or on social media about your experience dining in this restaurant.

Create a name for your blog and describe it for your readers. You may also include a bio and picture or avatar (real or pretend) of yourself.

Have a specific audience in mind for this review. You should format the document like an authentic blog (using Canva, Google Docs, Adobe, Microsoft Word, etc.), possibly using columns, a sidebar, featured quotes, graphics, etc., and crediting yourself as a blog writer. Or you may produce a well-rehearsed vlog, introducing yourself and performing the mostly scripted show. Pretend that you have loyal subscribers who look forward to reading all your blog posts or watching all your vlogs. Include the name of your blog or vlog (Good Eats, Ballin’ on a Budget, Aztec Foodie Squad, Hangry Beast, for example) and the title and date of this particular blog or vlog post. Keep paragraphs in the blog short and readable—appropriate for this genre. Feel free to use an informal and humorous tone and diction with your audience. Narrate a story about your experience eating out at this restaurant. Provide some funny dialogue (real or imaginary) as you review the restaurant, and be descriptive in order to entertain and captivate your audience and to get them to spread the word so that you reach more people and get them to subscribe to your blog or vlog.

Tell your audience about this restaurant by providing context. Where is it located (street address and neighborhood)? What kind of restaurant is it and what kind of food is served there? How long has it been in business? Who are the owners and managers? Do you know any of them or their staff personally?

Describe the restaurant’s ambiance and what it might reveal about the character of the business. You might mention the exterior and interior color scheme, signs, architecture, furniture, art/décor, dress code of the staff, authenticity (Irish bartender with a Dublin Irish accent serving Irish cuisine at The Field in downtown San Diego, for example), or any other details.

Tell your audience what you ordered and describe the food served. Provide specific details about the appearance, taste, and texture of the dishes and beverages you ordered. Remember that you are making an argument of your own to influence your subscribers (like “Go to this restaurant immediately! You won’t be sorry, y’all!” or “Skip this overpriced place. It’s all sizzle and no steak, yo. Ya know y’all can trust me to keep it real, my squad.”).

Notice the forms of rhetoric (the art of using language/images effectively and persuasively in spoken, written, and visual forms) being used. Define rhetoric for your readers, who would probably be unfamiliar with this term being used to describe a restaurant. Take note of the rhetorical elements—written, visual, and spoken—and rhetorical strategies and rhetorical appeals employed by the restaurant’s owners, managers, and staff to target specific patrons. How do the servers use rhetoric to encourage you to order more items? Are there any reviews of the restaurant or notes from patrons praising the restaurant displayed? If so, where are those located? What effect do these have on the restaurant’s guests?

Describe the restaurant’s guests. Are they couples, families, business people, senior citizens, or single hipsters, for example? How do the servers use rhetoric to connect with guests (and perhaps to increase the prices of guest checks and gratuity/tips)?

To bring the review to a close, answer these questions:

How does your experience dining in the restaurant compare and contrast with what you read about it when you researched social media, Yelp, etc., or what you heard about it through word of mouth? Did it meet or exceed your expectations? Were you disappointed in any way?

Rate the restaurant (for example, thumbs up, thumbs down; 0-4 stars; 0-4 yums or 0-4 yucks).

Ultimately, based on your experience, what can you conclude about the role that rhetoric plays in the business of this restaurant?

End by telling your audience which restaurant you will be reviewing for your next blog or vlog post and encourage any of them who haven’t already done so to subscribe to your blog or vlog!

How to Structure This Project

Introduction: Greet your readers or listeners and tell them about your blog or vlog, providing the name and description. Let them the purpose of your blog or vlog. Urge them to subscribe if they haven’t already done so.

Tell your audience which restaurant you selected, what kind of food is served there, and why you chose this particular place. Tell them where it’s located and give them plenty of context about the restaurant.

Describe the restaurant’s ambiance, authenticity, etc.

Tell your audience what you ordered and describe the appearance, taste, and texture of the food and drinks.

Describe the rhetoric being used at the restaurant. Define rhetoric for your audience. Describe the rhetorical elements used by the staff to target specific patrons. Describe the other customers dining at the restaurant.

Conclusion: Compare and contrast reading and hearing about the restaurant with actually dining in there in person. Rate the restaurant.

Assert a claim about how rhetoric plays a role in the business of this restaurant.

Tell your audience which restaurant you will be reviewing for your next blog or vlog. Urge any of them who haven’t already done so to subscribe to your blog or vlog.

Criteria for Evaluation

Successful writers will

  1. Answer all parts of the prompt.
  2. Create a cohesive and well-edited project.
  3. Upload a rough draft of their blog to Turnitin before the deadline. Or upload an outline/script of the vlog to Turnitin before the deadline, including a YouTube link on the document. Set the YouTube recording to “anyone with a link can view” or set it to “public” (but not to “private”).
  4. Upload the final draft of their blog to Turn It In. Or upload a script of the vlog to Turnitin before the deadline, including a YouTube link on the document. Complete 3-5 pages, single-spaced, including images, for the blog, or 7-10 minutes for the vlog. Set the YouTube recording to “anyone with a link can view” or to “public” (but not to “private”).

Handout (compiled from reviews written by students in a past RWS 305W class)

Using Tone and Details to Engage Readers

It’s a Friday afternoon, and I have just picked up my brother and sister from school. I have two hungry teenagers in the car, and all I can think about is getting food in their stomachs—FAST.

Upon entering Old Town Mexican Café and Cantina, you can actually smell the food from the street.

As soon as you walk into Tokyo Sushi Loha, the sushi chefs and waitresses greet you by yelling, “Irrashaimase!” which means “Welcome!”

Not many people can resist an adventure. Adventures are exciting, uncharted, and exhilarating journeys that bring so many unforgettable memories. As a college student, I know that it is a somewhat unspoken rule to have as many impulsive, ridiculous adventures as possible before graduating and going into the real working world. To kick off the Halloween weekend, I devised plans for my own adventure: to go to a classmate-recommended diner in Coronado, CA at 4 A.M. and simply eat breakfast.

There is no hostess who takes you to the next available table. Rather, you are your own host who has to keep a sharp eye out for an empty seat in this small restaurant because if you are not paying close attention, someone will snag your seat faster than the cook can say, “Order up!” Instead of a traditional waiter walking up to the table with a pad of paper ready to take down your order, the cook just turns around and says, “Yell what you want when you are ready.” We were a bit taken aback by such informal restaurant language at first, but then we realized how at home it made us feel. The atmosphere of Night and Day Café is kind of like being at home sitting at the kitchen counter while your mom stands at the stove cooking breakfast. Except instead of mom, the one cooking is a big burly man named Keith who has a side ponytail of black curly hair and crazy eyes that could beat you in a staring contest every time.

As we pored over the drink menu, I noticed right away that it also corresponded with the restaurant’s theme, with raunchy drink names, such as the “Titty Twister and “Cheri Black G-String.” Feeling slightly overwhelmed, I asked our server Liza for drink suggestions. She recommended her favorite, the “Ménage-a-Twat,” promising it would be “like an orgasm in your mouth.” Not wanting to pass that up, I went with her recommendation and wasn’t disappointed.

Analyzing Rhetorical Appeals and Strategies

When it came time to order, I felt like I should have a pen and paper because I ran into celebrities there. The celebrities were the three brothers who created Lucha Libre, and they personally took my order, wearing blue jeans with black t-shirts that had “Lucha Libre” on them and a picture of a wrestler. I ordered the famous “TJ” hotdog, and one of the brothers stated, “You can’t have the ‘TJ’ hotdog without getting the ‘TJ’ corn.” Little did he know, I was on to his little rhetorical strategy of persuasion, but, in the end, he convinced me when he mentioned the very cheap price of “only $4.99.” I guess it was his friendly and trustworthy tone that made it seem like I would be doomed for the rest of my life if I did not order the “TJ” corn, too. Remembering from the website, I asked for the Luchador discount, and one of the brothers stated, “Not without buying one of our masks.” What a great discount—to buy a forty-dollar mask that is going to save me only a few bucks! Luckily, my friend is a huge Lucha Libre fan, so he went ahead and decided to buy one. However, before my friend could purchase the forty-dollar mask, one of the brothers had to mention that the sixty-five dollar mask was more realistic. He explained that the more expensive mask is of a better quality and that the designs on it are more detailed. With him visually showing us the details on the more expensive mask and telling us it was copied from a famous wrestler’s mask, my friend decided to buy it.

Towards the end of the dinner, the manager came over and noticed that I had been writing a lot of stuff down and looking around very analytically. He asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was writing a review of his restaurant. Without fail, 10 minutes later, a server came over with a giant bowl of green tea ice cream—on the house—atop shaved ice, lit with glowing red and green balls.

Understanding Audience

The pizzeria never claims to be unique or outstanding. Luigi, given that his primary customers are looking to get real Italian food that’s cheap and tasty, correctly chose not to waste money on extravagant exterior architectural design and décor when it could be funneled into creating a more affordable and superlative product catered towards young people.

I took some more time to look around the place and noticed that the majority of the patrons consisted of two or more people. I was actually the only guy sitting by himself at this Italian restaurant. I wasn’t feeling ashamed, only a little bummed out that all three girls I called to have dinner with me here had turned me down…If I recall correctly, the slogan of Olive Garden was “When you’re here, you’re family.” Well, that’s pretty depressing if I’m sitting here all by myself munching on this lasagna.

Roberto’s caters to passing beachgoers with its outside “walk-through window,” allowing for dripping wet bathing suits and sandy feet, as well as the patrons lugging their wet and sandy beach toys. After dark, the restaurant is accented with bright neon lights, attracting the attention of drunken partiers. It is open 24 hours a day every day, causing it to be a popular place when all the bars close. Even later in the evening it is not uncommon to see homeless people cleaning the restaurant in exchange for a meal and a place to loiter…Roberto’s is generous to locals and frequent customers, as well as friendly to the visiting tourists. With its convenient location, delicious food, large portions, fair prices, and great service, it is a true Southern California beach restaurant.

Discussing The Role of Rhetoric in a Restaurant’s Business

Aspects such as exterior and interior, architectural design, atmosphere, ambiance, layout, reviews, décor, and disposition all serve as windows into the very soul—or character—of a business. Furthermore, they also serve as rhetorical strategies to encourage more orders, thereby increasing profits.

The feeling that I got from the restaurant’s rhetoric was that while Pho Saigon Star presented itself as a modern and non-traditional restaurant to better appeal to non-Vietnamese customers, it  still offered the authentic flavors one would expect from a traditional, family-owned Vietnamese restaurant. The restaurant logo, menu graphics, dress code of the staff, and furniture suggested that this business knew its demographic, and, based on our experience and the several reviews online, I can conclude that Pho Saigon Star is successful with its approach.

To conclude my review of my experience at Olive Garden, the role of rhetoric in the restaurant is prominent. It can be seen in the staff’s behavior, the language of the menu and website, and the advertisements for the restaurant. Rhetoric is the backbone of the business’s success. Without the advertisements, the wording, the attitudes, even the decoration, Olive Garden would be nothing but a chain restaurant that serves reasonably priced, but not more than above average tasting Italian food.

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