In Manhattan's bustling and picturesque North of Little Italy (Nolita) neighborhood — one of the city's hippest and popular residential areas – rows of cozy restaurants and decorative street almost make random passersby wonder if they've been transported into an Instagram photo.
As it happens, much of that is by design. According to business search site Yelp, the company has seen a spike in users searching for restaurants or foods that include the word "Instagram" over the past two years. For the month of August, Yelp recorded a surge of about 3000 percent (or 30-fold) in searches related to the picture-sharing site – compared to May of 2015.
Carl Bialik, Yelp's data science editor, told CNBC in a recent email that the Instagram effect is relatively small, yet still a "fast growing" segment of its searches.
With the platform home to more than 700 million unique visitors, Yelp's findings are a function of how food establishments are actively catering to users seeking 'Instagrammable' moments, where an photo-op worthy experience is virtually as important as the food itself.
"It has become a platform in its own right, [and restaurants] have to think about how things are going to look on Instagram,' said Laureen Moyal, partner and branding expert at Paperwhite Studio, which has helped niche eateries go viral on social media. "Not considering it would be a huge mistake."