Hello, hopper fam! In case you didn’t watch my video above, the big day is almost here: tablehopper is relaunching on a new platform, with a brand-new, fresh, and so clean-clean design for the newsletter and site! There will be big and bodacious images (no more magnifying glass needed), an easy-to-read layout on your phone (yay!), and some new content, too (more on that in a sec). Please know the new website isn't quite finished—we're still painting and putting up the lights—but it's in progress, with the former website archive being migrated over. The most important thing is the new tablehopper newsletter, which you'll be receiving tomorrow! Here's a sneak peek of the new look!
I’ve been working on this project for over a year, but to be honest (as I always am with my readers), I’ve wanted to update everything for much longer. But without making enough revenue, I couldn’t afford a massive redesign—because real talk time: I have barely been getting by. tablehopper’s future existence has, quite frankly, been in peril, and for a while, things have needed to change. Evolve or perish!
tablehopper has been free for 17 years, and there could have been ugly embedded ads everywhere, but I wanted to spare you and keep the focus on the content. I also haven’t been able to host events for the past few years (thanks, pandemic!), and for the limited sponsored posts that I do run, ad revenue is extremely unpredictable and barely covers the expenses to host and mail this thing, let alone pay me for my time.
It’s mainly why I had to go biweekly a few years back—I couldn’t afford to lose the time to write tablehopper every week, since each article was actually costing me money instead of making it. While I have some incredible perks in my life, and I know it looks very glamorous from the outside, I still need to make a basic living. I actually live quite frugally (thanks to rent control for 28 years!), but I can’t pay the bills with wine samples and local publications offering $150 for 800 words. Honestly, I’m tired of working so hard and barely surviving.
I feel fortunate that I was able to help by being a voice of support for the restaurant industry during the pandemic, but now, it’s time to put on my own oxygen mask. After seeing many writers make the move to paid newsletter subscription platforms, some with only a few years of experience, I finally embraced the idea of becoming member-supported. And now that I see everything happening and changing for the better, I couldn’t be more thrilled! I’ve been chatting about this new financial model with some longtime readers and friends, and it means so much when people keep saying, “Finally, Marcia!”
Moving to a paid subscription model enabled me to feel confident about covering the expense of a new design and website (knowing how supportive you are, I took the gamble), and I also committed to returning tablehopper to a weekly publishing schedule! I’ll be back in your inboxes every Tuesday afternoon, with all the latest news, hot tips, and updates you love. Supporting subscribers will also receive an exclusive article every month, like my favorite sushi spots, or a cheat sheet of my latest picks on where to eat. These are pieces I have always wanted to write for you, but didn’t have the time and means to do so.
There are also some new sections! You know many of the existing characters, like the chatterbox and the lush, but get ready for new players, like the gadabout, featuring lifestyle and culture content, from can’t-miss live acts to gallery shows to cool events—I’ll be highlighting my fellow SF culture makers and inspiring people to #gtfout (get the eff out!). The new tableshopper section will feature food finds, beverages, and locally made products I’m loving, as well as kitchen items, plus personal care and low-dose cannabis products. And for those nights when you want to stay in, I’ll be posting some of my #tablehopperathome food and drink recipes and takeout picks.
Some of you know that I’m an avid collector of vintage SF restaurant menus, postcards, books, and ephemera—I’ll be highlighting my treasures in the new the archivist section. It’s a shame to keep these items on my bookshelf or in a box at home. Just wait until you see some of these old SF restaurant postcards!
Ultimately, it’s about continuing to shine a positive light on the city we love so much. We all know SF is going through some tough times right now. Post-pandemic recovery has been challenging, prices are through the roof, and folks are still staying home. My goal is to inspire you to dine out, even if you think you can’t afford it right now. While tasting menus and $45 entrées became the norm in these crazy times, there are still so many places where you can have a fun and delicious night out without crying over the bill. Go see a gallery show or jazz set and let me tell you about a great bar and noodle spot nearby. I want you out exploring, having a good time, and living your best SF life. I know all about ballin’ on a budget!
As a proud SF resident of 28 years, and a writer who has been covering the local restaurant scene for 20, I’m seeing a huge echo chamber with so much media now covering all the new places that are opening and coming soon. While it’s exciting news to know, I feel like we’re forgetting about a bunch of our local gems that make the City what it is (and where you can score a primetime table on a Friday night, let alone have a semi-affordable meal). Unless you’ve lived here for a while, there are a bunch of places with so much soul that you wouldn’t even know about, and we can’t afford to keep losing them. I’ll continue to break news and cover new restaurant/bar openings, while also celebrating classics and established businesses.
So, you’re wondering, “Okay, Marcia, count me in, but how much is this going to be? What do I get?” I have given a lot of thought to the pricing and structure, and there are some fantastic benefits that come with being a paid supporting subscriber of my work.
Supporting subscribers will:
- receive a complete version of the weekly tablehopper newsletter, including all articles.
- have access to the entire archive of tablehopper.com content (over 12,000 posts–not a typo!).
- get an exclusive monthly article, like five places to eat at now, round-ups (e.g. my top sushi spots), and more.
- receive one free tip please every year (a customized restaurant recommendation–just for annual subscribers, sent via email).
- score first dibs on tickets to tablehopper events (which always sell out).
- have my eternal gratitude for supporting my work and the future of tablehopper.
Annual subscriptions will be $149, offering a savings of $31 off the monthly rate of $15. But I really want to honor and thank you for your longtime readership, so I’m offering you a super-duper introductory rate of $99 for the year! It comes out to $8.25/month, which is basically the cost of a mediocre bagel with cream cheese (no toppings, sorry), or a matcha latte with oat milk. This introductory annual rate will only be available until February 28th, 2023, and will then increase. And remember, for many of you, this subscription may be a tax write-off or expensed!
There are some premium tiers available for those of you who really want to show your support (and have the means to do so), say thanks for years of my tireless coverage, and get some awesome benefits, like a ticket to the tablehopper relaunch party (stand by)!
You’re also probably asking yourself what is going to happen to the newsletter and site for non-subscribers. For the next three weeks, everything will be free, and you’ll have full access to all articles and content (but please remember the new website is still in soft-opening mode and in progress!). I want you to see and enjoy all the new-new! You’ll even get a sample of the monthly special content. The paywall will begin on Tuesday February 21st, 2023. From that point onward, anyone on the free plan will receive my introductory letter and a few articles every week, but the rest of my content will be paywalled, with limited access to new articles on the website as well. I know some of you live far away and keep up with me through my intro letter, so I wanted to be sure that section stays viewable.
In order to encourage some of you to become annual supporting subscribers NOW (before the paywall on February 21st, 2023), I have some perks and giveaways for you, from a truly awesome sandwich deal to the opportunity to win some sweet cookware (you’ll automatically be entered in the giveaway). You’ll see these incentivised offers soon! Thanks for onboarding early, because I have quite a few expenses to pay off on this thing, oy.
I know some of you are fellow broke writers, creatives, underpaid teachers, and overworked industry folks—trust me, I FEEL YOU—so I’ll be offering some subsidized subscriptions to fellow strugglers who can’t afford to subscribe at the full rate. I have specifically set up some of the premium tiers to help cover the expense of these subsidized subscriptions. There are a lot of people with money in this town, and there are others who help keep SF culture alive, so let’s take care of each other! The application will launch after February 21st, so sit tight for now.
Like a new restaurant, tablehopper is holding a soft opening for the newsletter and website relaunch. Please be understanding during these coming weeks—things are still being developed, imported, fine-tuned, debugged, personalized, and tweaked! The website is going to be a bit bare bones to start—we’re still migrating all 12,000 past articles over (!) and additional site elements need to be created. Things will be much more dialed in for the grand opening. Like all of us, it’s a work in progress.
17 years. Unbelievable. Thanks for being with me on this journey, and for all your support. I’m deeply grateful for our relationship–you’re an incredible community. It is such an honor to write about the city I love (and the remarkable people in it).
See you tomorrow!