Boston is a small town. As someone who did not grow up here, I quickly grew to appreciate the ease of networking, support, and community in this town. We’re a team. It’s constantly seen in our spirit of sports, our suffering through long winters, and our energy coming out of hibernation when the sun finally shines. We support each other through the hard times and celebrate together in the good times.
John Romard, better known by most as @BostonAttitude, is a born and raised Bostonian who exudes the true Bostonian spirit—so much so that he took his passion for the city to the social media world.
Having been familiar with Romard’s celebrity status in the Twitter universe, I was excited to finally put a face to the handle. And after learning about his extensive background in the hospitality and alcohol industry, I knew we wouldn’t have a lack of topics to discuss.
Romard is a guy you want on your side. Until seeing how clearly at home he appears lounging at the very posh Rooftop at the Revere Hotel, he could easily be mistaken for the bouncer (and not one I’d suggest testing a fake ID on).
As it turns out, my initial inkling placing Romard as a ‘tough guy’ is exactly the mindset that laid the groundwork for ‘Boston Attitude.’ The term was first called out to him at a young age, on vacation in Nova Scotia, “I was about 11 years old. Someone introduced me as the ‘cousin from Boston’ and I immediately became known as the kid with the ‘Boston attitude,’ which they had characterized as someone who wanted to start a fight,” says Romard.
Years later, at a Blackjack table in Vegas, the dealer introduced everyone at the table and asked where they were from. Upon Romard’s declaration as a Bostonian, a man at the table said he would be leaving after the next hand because “all these guys with the Boston attitude just want to fight.” Naturally, this made Romard want to do exactly that, who took some offense to the remark as an insult to his beloved city, but it also planted a seed.
Back in Boston years later, Romard was home watching Tyler Florence on the Food Network and local Boston favorite Roxy’s Grilled Cheese was featured on the show. As fate would have it, the team was introduced as “the guys with the Boston attitude.” Romard immediately hopped on Twitter and secured the handle right there and then, officially giving birth to an idea that had been growing for quite some time. It was time to redefine the Boston attitude.
Hospitality and alcohol management lie at the core of Romard’s background. Right around the beginning of the social media movement and Facebook’s debut, Romard was working for Aramark, Boston University’s catering service. “There’s a lot going on with booze around BU that you don’t realize” says Romard, who ran liquor management for the BU Pub, “It’s exclusive to students and alumni 21+ and faculty, but there was no sign or anything. There was only one way to promote it and that was through Facebook.”
Romard took that social media mentality with him to his next job for the Legendary Restaurant Group where he immediately asked how they felt about social media, to which they replied, “what’s that?”
Inevitably, it wasn’t long before management approached Romard with ideas on promoting the brand through social media, “I’m on it” Romard replied.
And he certainly was.
Boston Attitude launched in 2011, while Romard was working for Legendary’s Tavern on the Water. “Seaport was just being built and we needed a presence. The sales were there but I wanted the lines out the door.” At the time, there was no Boston-focused event presence on social media.
About two years ago, Romard took Boston Attitude to a full time role. At the time he had about 4,000 followers. Upon going full time, that number steadily climbed—to 6,000 that first year, soon to 10,000, and today, 15,000 and growing. “I used to look for things to talk about, but now I’m flooded with emails,” says Romard, who speaks daily with PR and Marketing firms in and around Boston.
“The number one thing about Twitter is consistency,” Romard advises, “be consistent with content and stick with what works.”
Lessons learned from his hospitality background ring true in his Twitter career as well, “It’s about the right clientele, not the numbers. I can tweet that I’m sitting here at the Revere and mention some amazing drink special, but a bunch of highschoolers aren’t going to care. It’s about reaching the right people. I want to be the Improper Bostonian for social media.”
I couldn’t avoid grabbing a few recommendations from the townie expert, who quickly calls out Trade for it’s great beverage program, outdoor patio, and flatbread pizzas.
Eastern Standard is another go-to: “they really set the standard for bartending in the city and that is the place I take my staff to show them how it’s done.”
Romard’s favorites are constantly changing (especially with all the new restaurants popping up,) but he remains true to one old local favorite, “I’m at Cornwalls in Kenmore with a pint of Guiness more than I care to say. It’s a family-run favorite of mine.”
The Boston Attitude name has expanded in recent years, with the launch of TheBostonAttitude.com and an increasively active Instagram account, “Instagram is less promotional; not as much about events and destinations as it is about photos of Boston,” says Romard.
And it is that celebration of Boston that is at Romard’s core, especially as that ideal of “the Boston attitude” has evolved immensely in recent years, which Romard credits to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, “that compassion, community and support is what people have come to recognize as ‘the Boston attitude.’”
So Romard constantly channels that into his online persona. As a helicopter hovers overhead I momentarily lose Romard’s attention as he wonders what might be going on nearby. “That’s it, that’s what Twitter is about” he tells me, and I can see that distracting passion he feels to immediately report back to his audience, never leaving anyone in suspense. It all comes back to the real ‘Boston attitude’— community, support and teamwork.