Feature Interview: Cori Sue Morris, Founder of Bitches Who Brunch


Bitches Who Brunch is one of my favorite DC lifestyle websites, so I am delighted to feature one of its founders, Cori Sue Morris on Political Style!

Cori Sue Morris is the co-founder of Bitches Who Brunch, the D.C.-based website recently named Best Blog by Washingtonian and "Favorite Foodies" by the Washington Post's DC Tweeps. The Bitches have reviewed more than 300 brunches since the site’s inception in March 2010, and also provide their 50,000+  monthly readers with events and party recaps, fashion, and DC lifestyle news.

When she's not brunching, shopping, or traveling, Cori Sue is a communications specialist working in energy efficiency and renewable energy-- working on social media, public affairs, speech writing, branding, and media outreach. In May 2012, Cori Sue graduated with her master’s degree from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs and was then named a Presidential Management Fellow. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in journalism and history. She’s fluent in Spanish and Italian and is a Boston-qualifying marathon runner.

Necessary and Proper Blog

How did you establish the idea of Bitches Who Brunch?

Becca and I both graduated with editorial degrees from top journalism schools—she from Mizzou and I from UNC-Chapel Hill. We met while we were working at a magazine in Southwest Florida, and later reconnected up here in Washington. We were no longer working in editorial, and we were both looking for a creative outlet—to express our passions for writing, photography, fashion, and art.

Then, one day, Becca said to me, “We should really start a blog, what would we call it?”

Immediately, I said “We’d be the Bitches Who Brunch, of course.”

Then, she went and bought the .com without telling me; had our friend set up Wordpress on the site; and sent a photo of us to her mother, who is an artist, and designed the logo we still use today.

The brand, voice, and organization of the site evolved naturally based on our personalities and interests, grew organically, and the rest is history.

What makes you different to other DC blogs that report from a lifestyle angle?

I think what’s contributed to our success would be: consistency, quality, and a strong brand.

For starters, with a few exceptions, we’ve posted on BitchesWhoBrunch.com every weekday for more than three years now—providing at least a couple brunch reviews but also party recaps, fashion posts, and our much-used Monday “This Week” events calendar.

We post quality content: high-res, high-quality photos, and we edit our posts several times for grammar and clarity before they go live.

Last, but not least, we have a strong voice and brand that we stick to: in our writing, our branding, our events, our social media, and our lifestyles.

How has blogging about DC changed your opinion of the city?

Blogging about food, fashion, and lifestyle, we have our fingers on the pulse of what’s happening in those spaces and are also connected to other writers, media, and folks in the PR and food industry. We’ve been able to watch DC’s food, fashion, and art scene really grow and evolve. There is so much happening in the city, from new restaurants to local designers to art collaboratives to unique charity work—such as the RaiseDC guys—and I feel blessed to be living in this city and be a part of it.

What are your favorite DC spots to have brunch at?

As evidenced by our brunch guide, there are all types of brunches: fancy, high-end spots for holidays and celebrations, hole-in-the-wall brunches for when you’re hungover, bottomless/endless brunches for getting rowdy with friends.

I prefer my brunches with a focus on quality cuisine in a relaxed ambiance, as I use brunch as a time to catch up with one or two close friends away from work, events, and the general hustle-and-bustle. My absolute favorite is a tie between Lavagna and Granville Moores. I love Lavagna, on Capitol Hill, because it is quiet, the service is unintrusive, and the food is phenomenal. The mimosas are heavenly, the fruit is fresh, and the patio is filled with couples and their pups. It’s simply charming. Granville Moore’s on H Street is an unpretentious hole-in-the-wall that makes to-die-for French fries, French toast that is sinfully good, and a damn good breakfast sandwich. Chef Teddy is a really fun guy, and he named the aforementioned delicious breakfast sandwich after his wife, “The Good Doctor.” I’m not sure what could be more romantic than that.

Table is by far my favorite new restaurant, and it was wonderful for brunch. Maple and Room 11 in Columbia Heights are also small, high-end restaurants with fresh food, high-end cocktails and great service. Even though I’m a vegetarian, the Pig has a lot of yummy Southern comfort food options. (Did someone say biscuits?)

Is there a certain type of brunch venue that DC should have?

It would be nice if we had more party brunch options. La Boum at L’Enfant CafĂ© is lots of fun, but it is small, it doesn’t happen every week. It would be nice if there was something on par with the New York style brunch parties, like Bagatelle.

What advice would you offer to a young woman who has a similar idea for a blog?

The advice I would give would be:  know yourself, know your brand, know your audience, and know your competition.

Also, anyone with a laptop can start a blog. To succeed, you have to provide a service, add a value—whether it’s a service (a brunch search function), entertainment (a sassy voice), a great visual (brunch porn)—in order to draw in readers.

And, watch your grammar—edit, edit, edit. Pick up a copy of The Elements of Style and the AP Style Book.

What challenges have you faced as a blogger?

Time management is difficult—there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Moreover, we’ve been fortunate that Bitches Who Brunch has morphed into a full-fledged lifestyle website, a company (LLC), and a trademarked brand.

So, Becca and I have developed an across-the-board skillset: event planning, public relations, sales, invoicing, book keeping, accounting, website management, website development, strategic partnerships, etc.

I’m very fortunate that I have a brilliant, hard-working, and savvy partner. We work well together and are always on the same page for major decisions—something you can’t predict but that, I think, has been critical to our success. Fortunately, our disagreements are more around the color palette for an invite or what to wear to an event, and not on the direction we should take our site.

Has a favorable review of a restaurant provided you with a better table/service the next time you dined there? 

Washington is a small community, so, even if we haven’t reviewed a restaurant’s brunch, it’s likely we’ve stopped by for a drink, or attended a media event. We know a lot of people in the restaurant industry—it’s a small, close-knit community—as well as the PR folks around town. So yes, there’s the occasional ability to skirt a line or receive a glass of prosecco on-the-house. But, I don’t see it any differently than the way a local or regular is treated better at a restaurant or bar because they’re there a lot. We support, and frequent, certain restaurants and bars and are treated well in exchange. I’m cautious to ensure I’m always being gracious and not asking for anything—if I put my name in and I’m given a great table, then, wonderful—but I’m not going to ask for it.

Do you get easily recognized around DC?

It’s a bit surprising; actually, I do get recognized quite a bit. It’s obviously a lot more common when I’m at an event, or at a brunch with my big camera (which I try very hard to hide). At least three times last year people have said hello to me in the grocery store, and it’s almost always when I’ve come from the gym or haven’t washed my hair. You know, because that’s always the way it happens.

We actually don’t put pictures of ourselves on Bitches Who Brunch, but we’ve been honored to have been featured in Washington City Paper, Washingtonian, Sweet Lemon Magazine, and more. And, I attend a lot of events and am involved in various charitable pursuits, so my photo will be up on recaps on Guest of a Guest, Revamp, Washington City Paper, and others.

We love our readers, we love Washington, and we love the support and brunch love happening around town, keep it coming!

If starting a blog now, what would you change/improve upon?

Well, for starters, I’d learn how to write HTML code.
I’d also learn how to delegate better, and do so sooner, rather than doing it ourselves. Becca and I both struggle with that—we just do it ourselves. We’re expanding the website to New York and other cities, and I think our biggest issue will be letting go of control, while still maintaining the brand and managing our new staff—new Bitches! We’re working on it.

Robb Homann Photographie

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