Entertainment guide Metromix NY has profiled the Mayor Thurston campaign!! This is great news for our campaign and for the people of Delicatessen whom we are both proud and humbled to represent. 

The publication regularly profiles Foursquare users. Here's what they said about me:

Baratunde Thurston's campaign for mayor of Soho scenester joint Delicatessen, against fellow Foursquare user Jennifer Magnolfi, is taking Mayor WarsTM to a new level. Not only has he commissioned a campaign poster, but the restaurant is in on the game. They have created a cocktail for both competitiors and are hosting a victory party on Aug. 16 for the winner. We spoke with Thurston to find out why this title is so important to him, and why cheeseburger spring rolls are worth fighting for.

After that you can read my responses to reporter Linnea Covington's questions. Unfortunately, they couldn't print everything I said, but thanks to the magic of the Sent Mail folder, we can share those responses with you in full below.


What's with your obsession to be mayor of Delicatessen?

In October 2009, my friend Ron Williams (@ronjdub) introduced me to Delicatessen. I knew it was something special. That same day, I introduced him to Foursquare. Neither of us was ever the same. He soon became the mayor of Delicatessen, but over time, I overtook him. For months we battled, trading title, fraying our relationship, until ultimately, he was exiled to Brooklyn where he runs an amazing company called SnapGoods

Delicatessen has been around for decades, and it's a classic New York story. Founded by Italian immigrants who operated a bodega, the textile workers would notice the sandwiches the family ate during their lunch break and asked if they could be purchased. Eventually, those sandwiches would lead to Delicatessen taking over the entire block. The woman who made those sandwiches still lives above Delicatessen today. She's over 90 years old. Her son, John Buffa, is co-owner. 

It's not just the food and drink. Delicatessen has a story, and I'm proud to represent it as Foursquare Mayor. 


Are you nervous that you will be ousted from your throne?

Listen, I'm a politician during an election year when the American people have said "Enough already! We're tired of the wars and the budget deficits and the socialism." In such an anti-incumbent environment, I'd be foolish to have blind confidence in my re-election bid. I am cautiously optimistic, but the key word is caution. 

I've got some travel coming up during the campaign which will impact my ability to defend my seat at Delicatessen (I just returned from leading a trade delegation to Montreal, and this weekend I'll be seeking financing in Las Vegas). In electoral politics, they say 80 percent of success is showing up. In Foursquare politics, 100 percent of success is showing up. 


How did the challenge come about?

Last Wednesday, I met a friend from Boston at Delicatessen. I checked in, as I'm wont to due, and immediately after that my friend Jennifer Magnolfi checked in, and shouted for all to see that she would take my mayorship from me. I was aghast at the boldness, the rudeness, the crassness of the move. It was literally a slap in the face (insofar as iPhone popup notifications can be interpreted as physical assaults). I scoured the restaurant, located Ms. Magnolfi, and over the next several hours she, my Boston friend and I engaged in heated debates over politics, philosophy and more.

But our chief topic was her challenge to my mayorship. We agreed on some ground rules: The campaign would last 30 days (until August 14th); we would not engage in "ghost" check-ins, meaning we had to physically be at the restaurant; and we would throw a party on the 14th (now 16th) to celebrate the winner. If at any point during the campaign period, she ousted me, she would win, and I would honor her mayorship. In the case of her victory, my friend would pay her $100. In the case of my victory, she would pay him $100. 

I have no financial stake in the outcome. I'm in this for honor and for the people of Delicatessen.

What do you have to say directly to the person who is trying to steal the mayor-ship?

Jennifer, you've been a great friend and I was really sad to see the way this came about. That said, you're a worthy opponent, and I believe the people should have choices in the marketplace. Competition makes for better leadership, and through this spirited campaign, I believe we will both honor the good people of Delicatessen and improve the community we both serve. 


(note be sure to read Magnolfi's take on how the challenge started in the Metromix piece. And on a serious note, Jennifer and I are truly friends and are not actually at war with one another personally. She does some amazing work in the field of programmable environments. I do amazing work in the field of telling jokes to drunk people at night. We're in this to push the limits of Foursquare and experiment with a new social media tool and of course, for fun.) 

And here are the full Magnolfi answers to the reporter's questions, not all of which made it into the final published piece:

1) Why are you going for the mayor-ship of Delicatessen?

One of the great things about Foursquare is that it allows you to bring play into simple things like visiting a local restaurant. With that comes competition among friends, which is exactly what happened here. 

I checked-in at Delicatessen while having dinner with colleagues with something like "on a mission to oust @baratunde as the mayor".  We were both at the restaurant at the same time, so, after dinner, we had a laugh. Then, while joking with friends who joined us about what our hypothetical campaigns would be like, we both realized that it could actually be done - if both of us played by the rules as regular visitors, it was a definite possibility: I could become the mayor. So, with much conviction, ideas for the competition, we shook hands, and the race began. 

2) Why do you like that restaurant so much?

Delicatessen is overall a great place, no doubt - food, cocktails and service. For me, it has a lot to do with Design. In my work, I explore the ability to change and re-program environments to create new experiences. There are many design details I like here, from furniture, to lighting, to the use of photography. The retractable exterior walls, however, are my favorite signature piece. The atmosphere changes dramatically when they are open to the sidewalk corner. It's a great urban summer spot. 

What makes Delicatessen worth the effort to keep your mayor-ship?

They have cheeseburger spring rolls. CHEESEBURGER SPRING ROLLS. I'd go to war for such a thing. Running for mayor is the least I could do.


What are your favorite dishes at Delicatessen?

Low Country Grits which contains grits, bacon, eggs over easy on top and cheese. So good. Also, the Milk and Cookies. I'd commit high crimes and misdemeanors for that dessert. Finally, the Bloody Mary. Victor is the best bartender I've encountered in NYC, and a Bloody Mary is a delicate drink to get right. Victor creates them masterfully.


Where else are you mayor? Are any others worth fighting for?

see here

My most meaningful mayorships are:

  • The Onion, where I work as Web Editor
  • Cut Stop: my barbershop up in Inwood. Even though I moved out of the neighborhood a year ago to Fort Greene, I still make the trek up to The Wood to get my hair cut at this great shop
  • Thrive Integrated Physical Therapy: I tore my hamstring on the field of battle on behalf of The Onion (I'm nothing if not a committed public servant). We were "playing kickball" but everyone knows that's a euphemism for urban warfare. Anyway, I'm getting restored at this PT shop, and they do amazing things. They can rebuild me, making me better, faster, stronger.


If you had a meeting with Foursquare, what would you tell them to do to improve their network?

We need campaign finance reform. It's very expensive to run a campaign like this, and I may have to seek creative financing. Mayorship should be about service to the people, not how much you're willing to spend on a Cider Mustard Glazed Porkchop