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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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The @_brokebuthungry Instagram tackles Philly food scene

Ciarra Bianculli ’17 and DeEnna Maiale at Seltzerland 2022, a festival that tours major U.S. cities every summer. PHOTO COURTESY OF DEENNA MAIALE

Ciarra Bianculli ’17 and DeEnna Maiale created their Instagram page @_brokebuthungry in May 2020. Ever since then, it’s been nothing but good eats and restaurant receipts for the dynamic duo.

“Ciarra had been telling me for years to start a food page,” said Maiale, who has been friends with Bianculli since grade school. “I kind of felt embarrassed to do it by myself and then one day she was like, ‘All right, how about I do it with you?’” 

Their claim to fame sparked from posting content from their favorite Philadelphia mom and pop restaurants they have frequented. Maiale said their stylistic approaches to the account differ. Bianculli gravitates more toward coffee, pizza and bar food, while Maiale is always on the hunt for a good steak and martini. 

“​​We do totally different things, so I felt like we could cover a lot doing it together,” Maiale said. 

Maiale is particular about the captions of each post, making each one special and unique to the cuisine by featuring witty puns like “steak me home tonight” and “slice slice baby.”

Bianculli, a St. Joe’s alumna who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and English, came up with the username during a yoga session. 

The Philadelphia natives’ favorite restaurant is Fiorella Pasta Bar, located at 817 Christian St. 

“I think Philly has the absolute best restaurants ever. And I’m not just saying that because we live here,” Maiale said. “There’s so many great places here and everything’s so different. I feel like we have a one-up on everybody.”

Tom Nagle ’17, friend and follower of Bianculli and Maiale, said their audience started growing rapidly when they began offering giveaways. Nagle met Bianculli as a third-year student through the Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity. 

“That’s when things really started to blow up because then their current followers would repost [@_brokebuthungry’s] posts on their stories to enter into the different contests,” Nagle said. “And I think that really helped them gain a pretty big following.”

After the account gained over 2,000 followers, restaurants began reaching out to the duo inquiring about sponsorship opportunities. When it comes to scouting new spots, the pair tend to divide and conquer, except when they are invited to a restaurant for business opportunities.

“They’ll say, ‘in exchange for coming in and having a meal, you post an Instagram reel video and a couple stories,’ something like that,” Maiale said. 

They have experienced many different forms of sponsorships. Some restaurants will pay for their meal and give them an extra check for the exposure, and some will invite them with no additional compensation. But the two are happy to simply enjoy a good meal.

“Some foodies demand to be paid,” Maiale said, but Bianculli described how they would never demand a check for their work with the account, as both of their families own restaurants.

Bianculli’s family opened their bar, Tankie’s Tavern, in 2017. The establishment is named after her brother, Salvatore “Tankie” DiNubile, who passed away earlier that year. The memorial bar is located at 2654 S. Alder St.

Maiale’s family owns two Italian delis named after her grandfather and father, Big Nick’s and Lil Nick’s, located right next to each other at 1311 W. Moyamensing Ave.

They allow their insight and experience from their family’s small businesses to guide their approach to the @_brokebuthungry Instagram page.

“We always look at it like we’re small business owners and imagine some foodies coming up to our parents and grandparents saying, ‘I’ll take $2,000 to post about you on our page,’” Bianculli said. “We would flip out, that’s so crazy.”

Nagle said he enjoys tagging along with the team to different restaurants to see the duo in action. He described how he attended Albertino’s restaurant with the duo when they were invited for a Valentine’s Day special spread.

“Ciarra would help design the table for the pictures, there was champagne and all these red and white flowers, and she was arranging it to get good pictures for them and for her account as well,” Nagle said.

The Instagram page currently has over 12,000 followers. The next step for the @_brokebuthungry team is launching their own marketing company to work with restaurants directly.

“There’s a lot of restaurants who will hire somebody to post all the time, and since we’re always posting anyway, we’re trying to start a little something where we can help restaurants or different small businesses,” Bianculli said. 

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