Katy / Fort Bend Foodies admin talks about eating local

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The Katy / Fort Bend Foodies page had humble beginnings. Andrew Leeper, like so many others, took a photo of his food. Today, the page, which has nearly 50,000 members, has become the go-to for restaurant recommendations, cooking tips and friendly jokes.

Leeper runs the page with his daughter, Angelina Allen. They also run a landscaping company, GreenKeeper TX. Since the page took off, KFBF has grown into a social and even philanthropic enterprise. Leeper and Allen frequently lend the page’s influence in support of charitable events.

The father / daughter pair have even become de facto local celebrities, judging food competitions and making appearances in fundraising efforts.

In essence, they became the definitive guides to being a foodie in Katy and Fort Bend.

Leeper shared his experiences of rising to prominence among local foodies and discussed some of the trends and nuances in local restaurants.

How did the Katy / Fort Bend Foodies page come about?

I got up really early on St. Patrick’s Day and cooked all day. I had smoked a brisket, ribs and chickens. Then I was like, “Dang it… someone needs to see this. So I created a Facebook group and added a handful of guys my team regularly baked against. I posted a chest photo and asked, “You all know why you don’t have a wife? Because you can’t cook like that! Of course, I got a few taunts and “whatever” responses.

Then one day I pulled up somewhere and posted something like, “If you ever go out this place is pretty good and the people are really nice. Check them out if you can. And it kind of took off from there.

Did you have any idea it would be such a hit? What do you attribute its success to?

I’m always on the lookout for ideas on what to cook and thought it would be fun to have some friends who share their creations. I always like to see what other people are cooking. I think the growth came from staying friendly, free from political matters, and following the rule that everyone should be nice. We don’t have to love each other but we have to be kind.

Seeing people succeed has been the best part of it all. A pizza restaurant owner once gave me $ 500 and told me to go to some troubled places and buy some donation meals. His thought was that people would come for free food and post about it and draw attention to this business. I loved this idea and still use my own money to do it to this day.

I would bet this experience made you an expert – maybe even the expert – on all things Katy / Fort Bend food. What can you tell us about the gourmets in this region? Are there any trends? Do we seem to have a favorite type of food or restaurant?

I am far from being an expert in cooking or catering. I love to eat and learn new things with our members. I think the new sensations now are the birria tacos and the charcuterie boards. We have some great local restaurants that do this very well as well.

I think this area is all about barbecue and Tex-Mex. Everyone has their favorites and they will tell you about them loud and clear. We are very fortunate that our region has turned from a food desert to a food oasis. We have so many small businesses here. I see other areas being inundated by business conglomerates as here it looks like many sole proprietors dot the landscape. As a small business owner myself, it makes me very happy to see.

People use your page as a resource to find places to eat and new restaurants to try. How does it feel to have that kind of impact on your community?

When we had natural disasters (Harvey, Freeze) it seemed that one of the biggest resources of who was open and who had supplies was KFBF. People stopped me several times and told me they wouldn’t have known where to turn without the group. It’s amazing, humbling and real life there.

The new restaurants shared by band members are something we can all be proud of. So many people have put everything on the line for the American dream. I have heard so many stories from owners like this. One lady told me that she spent hundreds of dollars on advertising, but the vast majority of her clients told her they saw them on KFBF. These people have families to support. If there had been something like this to boost my business when I started, it would have been huge for me.

All is not positive, of course. Even very popular and well-regarded establishments have “days off,” and people often come to your page to complain. What are your feelings on this?

I always say there is no room for everyone. There are plenty of places that I don’t like that work really well. If I find a place that is not for me, I go quietly to a place that I like. I never criticize any place to do what they do.

I think in these days of keyboarding hard, people will post things that they wouldn’t say to anyone. Most owners and managers will want to hear feedback to improve what they are doing.

In my opinion, it seems like people have started turning to your page because maybe they are a little jaded and even skeptical of Yelp or similar sites. What makes your page so much more authentic to the community?

I really don’t like this kind of platform. You can be anonymous and fire bursts at will. I think when you are on KFBF there is a real name for your comments. You get to know which to take with a grain of salt.

Have you ever heard directly from restaurant or bar owners? If so, what are their views on the page and its influence?

I hear a lot of them. I do this mostly for charity events. KFBF raised over $ 25,000 (even with COVID) last year for different causes. Everything from funds for The Ballard House, buying brand new shoes for the girls at the Krause Childrens Center or those who are sick and in need of help.

Are there plans on the horizon to expand the page or its influence?

We plan to do more with our website. Set up exclusive group promotions and more. We’ll see how it goes.

I just have to ask you: what are your top 5 restaurants in the area?

I have to say exactly what a nice waitress at Jay Cafe in Needville told me when I asked her what her favorite meal was. “It’s like asking me which of my children I love the most. Everything is fine here, sir.” It made me laugh, but I like different places for different reasons.

Factors like it’s a date, feeling like a certain style of pizza, a Tex-Mex fix and the like. We have so many great options in our area that it can sometimes be difficult to choose one.

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