Video shows downtown Johnson City’s dining gifts

Nathan Baker • Dec 19, 2013 at 8:49 AM

A new video posted to YouTube Wednesday may be a contributing factor to holiday weight gain in Johnson City this year.

Set to the tune of the caroling favorite “The 12 Days of Christmas,” the video takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of the downtown dining options, from 12 Battery oysters to a burger from Mid City Grill.

Washington County Economic Development Council Director of Redevelopment Shannon Castillo, the brain behind the video and the author of the variant’s lyrics, said the video evolved out of a goal to highlight the downtown businesses while road and sidewalk construction continues.

“I hatched this plan, and I threw it out there to some of my co-workers, and asked ‘Is this crazy?’ ” Castillo said. “We decided to go ahead with it, so I added up all the restaurants downtown and wrote the lyrics, and then we spent eight hours, in 30-minute increments at each restaurant, shooting the video last Wednesday.”

WCEDC office manager Rebecca Davis, who Castillo said regularly sings in her church, recorded the vocal track, and video guru Gretchen Allie stitched everything together.

The video was accompanied by a link to a map of downtown Johnson City with the locations of all the mentioned restaurants plotted.

“I’m really proud of the end result,” Castillo said. “It was truly a team effort, and the restaurant owners were so helpful to us.”

The video is a continuation of the WCEDC’s efforts to engage residents and visitors with new marketing strategies to draw customers downtown.

During the summer, Castillo taped black paper to three vacant downtown storefronts and provided chalk for First Friday visitors to answer the prompt “I wish this building was ... ”

“Everyone’s loved it, they think it’s funny,” she said of the video. “Someone commented on a post on Facebook saying they didn’t know one of the restaurants was downtown. It’s cool that the video is already expanding people’s views of what’s down here, and when they’re down here looking to eat at restaurant, they might find another merchant to shop at.”

Chef Tim Swinehart, owner of the Buffalo Street Downtown Deli and the man in the video giving two thumbs up from the other side of 10 Reuben sandwiches, said the WCEDC’s efforts to promote local businesses have reached a new level with the holiday clip.

“I think they’ve been very creative with this,” he said. “I’ve been impressed with their efforts, and I hope to see more things like this in the future.”

Swinehart said there’s nothing especially Christmas-y about his corned beef sandwiches, but they are darn good.

Though someone trying to eat 10 of them “would probably be physically upset with their bellies,” he added.

After being posted to YouTube Wednesday morning and links to it making the rounds on other social media websites, the video had more than 300 views by the evening. It’s not a truly viral video, but Castillo said those are potentially 300 more people who may decide to spend their money at a local business.

“One woman said she was planning a progressive dinner through downtown using the map,” she said. “It works if that’s the kind of response it gets.”

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