Tiff Kline founded and owns Kline’s Korner, a food and local restaurant promotion business. She also is marketing manager of Nina’s Wing Bites and Pizza, Lett’s Eat/Flavors of India, Chain Smokers in West Pittston and the Smoke Shop/Cigar Lounge in Hanover as well as the assistant marketing manager at Nearme Yoga and Nearme Cafe. She considers herself an avid “festival-goer.” A graduate of Keystone College, she earned a bachelor’s degree in child and family studies with a minor in psychology and a concentration in education. Kline has lived in Scranton since 2009 and strives to grow the area’s small business food community. “Every dime we can give the small guy and keep it away from the big guys is a step toward a better community,” she said.
Meet Tiff Kline…
Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born in New Jersey then lived in Bangor. I lived in Ohio from when I was 10 until I was 20. I moved back to Scranton in 2009. I did an internship at Marley’s Mission where I worked with kids suffering from loss and trauma. That was really rewarding, but the four-year program was exhausting and I needed a change of pace. I really like social media. My mom used to joke and say, “One day you’ll get paid to sit and scroll.” I really liked photography and food, so I was trying to think of ways to make money off that. It started as a hobby. I like supporting local restaurants. I started Kline’s Korner in 2015. It was a risk. I started doing one or two food reviews a week, then I was doing three to five. Now I pace it out because the content is better when you’re not rushing.
How did you get into photography and food?
My mom was a photographer. She still is. I really got into Instagram. I started playing around with an iPhone and saw people were traveling around the world and taking pictures of food. I was going into local restaurants, and they were using stock photos for their menus. It was really aggravating and a lot of the people had no idea how to take pictures of food or how to run social media. I started taking pictures of mom-and-pop dishes, and the owners started using them. I think it’s important to showcase your own food.
Where did your interest in food come from?
I’ve always been into food. When I moved here in 2009, it opened up even more possibilities. I grew up on a farm. Traveling to the nearest city was two hours away. Here, I saw all these different cultures and styles of food. Food, to me, is a language. You can talk food with anybody and just open up a conversation. It’s very artistic. I love when the chefs put every ounce of passion into a dish.
At what point did you realize Kline’s Korner was going to be your career?
I didn’t know. It got to a point where I was burnt out on working office jobs. I’m a very outgoing person. I like to travel, I like to eat, I like showcasing a photo, putting it on social media and making somebody hungry. Getting feedback from that made me passionate about helping local restaurants get people in their doors. I guess that’s why I started doing it and why I’ve taken it so far. It’s an intrinsic reward where I’m doing them a service. Food is an art, and photography is an art, so I’m putting my two favorite arts together.
What does your work at Kline’s Korner consist of?
A lot of people get me confused with a food critic. I’m not that. My goal is to promote local mom-and-pop restaurants. I leave my opinion out of it. I give you the facts of where they are, hours of operation, what they have to offer, and I let you walk into them and make your own decision. Everybody has a different taste, no pun intended. If I don’t like a certain food, my opinion shouldn’t over shadow from what the restaurant has to offer. I’ve worked hard to set the reputation that I am a restaurant promoter and a food photographer. My goal is to get more people in the doors. Anything restaurants can offer that I find unique, I’ll share, such as their specials on a certain night, what kind of dishes they have. I try to showcase gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian options and put places in a positive light.
What message are you trying to share through Kline’s Korner?
I like to say that I’m very open and passionate about helping local restaurants. I think it’s very important to be active in the community, and one voice can go a long way. I always say “I’m eating my way through Northeast PA.” Kline’s Korner is a little bit of everything: travel blogging, photography, restaurant promoting, marketing. It makes me feel good that I can help others feel good with their business.
What do you enjoy most about helping the businesses?
When they can get the traffic that I drive in to their establishment and they thank me, it’s not because I need recognition. I feel good that they’ve succeeded. That’s what keeps me going. Even if it’s just one person, that’s one new customer they may have because of a picture I’ve taken or a shout out on Facebook. I don’t like taking the credit, and I don’t want the spotlight on me, but I want the restaurants to shine.
What makes a good restaurant in your opinion?
When the owners and managers don’t look at their customers as another number and they actually greet their guests and get to know them. I go to Sprinkles and Shakes in Plains Twp. a lot, and the owner, Bart, comes out and asks you how your pizza is. If you didn’t like something, he’ll ask you what he can do to make your night better. Joe from Nina’s is the same way. He bends over backwards to make sure his customers feel like family. That, to me, makes a great restaurant.
How has the NEPA restaurant industry changed since you’ve become involved?
I think people are becoming more open-minded. I’d like to point out some local chefs making Scranton so innovative with food are Jon Tabone at Bar Pazzo, Gene Philbin at Peculiar Slurp Shop, Dave Ciminelli at Aurants and Randy Ryan of the Kimchi Dude. As time has gone by, I’ve seen people step outside their comfort zones. I’ve seen burgers and fries become a bison burger at Aurants or What the Fork sliders. It seems like a lot of the chefs are trying new things and trying to keep up with what’s going on in bigger cities. They’re still keeping that mom-and-pop touch where they don’t want to look too corporate, but they know the fine line.
Have you had moment or time in your life that helped shape you into who you are today?
In 2007, I had a friend pass away. He was just full of life, and nothing could get him down. He was 23. I just started my second year of college. I was in Kentucky at the time. I moved here and started all over. I always remembered that life is short. Try to enjoy every day that you can and push yourself. Don’t give up, and try to find the good in every day. You have to go after what you want in life, because it’s going to pass you by. I don’t want to be a passenger in my life; I want to be the front-seat driver.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
Joe Macciocco and his sister, Maria McLaine, from Nina’s noticed what I did a few years ago. Joe kept an eye on me, and when it was time for his business to expand, he remembered how passionate I am about promoting. He gave me a shot at being his marketing manager and gave full trust to me. If it wasn’t for him opening the door to help me get marketing gigs, I wouldn’t be where I am today. He gave a kid who had no marketing experience a shot. I thank him for helping to get me to the next level. All the chefs I’ve worked with from the start who allowed me to walk into their facility and trusted me, they helped me build my portfolio, so I’d really like to thank the people who helped me get to where I am today. If it wasn’t for them helping me, I wouldn’t be able to help them.
Photos by Emma Black