Victoria Liu doesn’t see herself as a food critic. The 24-year-old force behind @EatGainesville and Byppo said that food has just always been integral to her life — and she loves sharing it.


Rae Gutcheon

Liu remembers watching her grandmother, Wang Yi Jiao, make traditional Chinese dishes and pastries for lunar holidays in the home they shared in Miami. She was born in China, and it reminded her of her roots. But she loved the mix of cultures in Miami too — “the Cuban culture there… the pastelitos!” She started posting the aesthetically pleasing and definitively tasty food she ate on her personal social media in high school. While dabbling in some modeling, she grew into a micro-influencer for the community.

After coming to the University of Florida, she decided to study abroad in Europe. While tasting wines in Italy, she learned the real value of enjoying your meals. So when she came back to Gainesville to continue her classes, she knew she had to dive more into this new, eclectic scene of local restaurants.

She teamed up with @BestofGainesville to start a new page — one focused on food. And @EatGainesville was born. She visits different restaurants around town, tasting their best dishes for the possibility of a feature on her page. But you’ll never catch Liu posting a meal she doesn’t actually like; she says every food must have her personal seal of approval.

The authenticity translates to the account’s over 13,000 followers, and Liu is happy to give support to the restaurateurs who she says have become some of her closest friends.

Rae Gutcheon

In March, Liu decided to start a new venture — an idea that spouted in the middle of the bleachers in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Originally, Byppo was supposed to be a service that allowed fans in stadiums to bypass the halftime lines and order concessions to eat in your seat. But when football stadiums closed down with the rest of the world in March, Liu decided to pivot and fill a growing need: helping local businesses keep customers during the pandemic.

Today, the Byppo app allows customers to order food for pick up or delivery from a curated list of local businesses. She said they were one of the first people in Gainesville to start the process for drive-up pickup during the height of the pandemic. Cars would line up outside the Patticakes store in Haile Plantation for coffee and pastries ordered through the app. At that time, restaurants would hire their own delivery drivers to fulfill orders to minimize the amount of unknown people coming into contact with an order.

Now, Byppo’s delivery drivers are trusted team members who are paid an hourly rate. The app eased the transition to online ordering for many local businesses who Liu said don’t want to or can’t partner with national apps like UberEats, Grubhub or Postmates for financial reasons.

Rae Gutcheon

But not everyone can be on Byppo. Liu wants to get to know the businesses she works with; build a partnership. She wants them to feel like part of the family.

But who is the woman behind some of Gainesville’s most popular food enterprises? Hear from Victoria herself on her journey to becoming one of the city’s most recognized food entrepreneurs, her plans for the future and some of her favorite spots in town.

Responses have been lightly edited for space and clarity.

Q: What was your major?

A: I got my bachelor's and master's in accounting.

Q: What does that have to do with food?

A: Nothing! I thought it was really useful for business, and my parents actually run their own businesses. My mom owns the largest oriental Chinese store in Florida: Miami China City. Then my dad owns an international touring company.

Q: Do you think your parents inspired you to get into a business mindset?

A: I grew up around, like, my entrepreneurial parents –– although they really despise me starting my own business. Because they know how difficult it is to run a business. And they know the hardships. So they wanted me to have a more stable job, and what's the most stable job you can find? It's an accountant, right? But I really liked accounting.

Rae Gutcheon

Q: Now that you’re graduated, do you plan to stay in Gainesville? Did you ever think you’d end up here?

A: I do. I'm actually looking for a house right now. But no, not until last year around March was when I founded [Byppo]. Even then, I had a full time job or accounting job lined up in Miami. But then I had to make a decision whether or not I should pursue my own business, something really risky, start something that I love to do ––food. I actually graduated valedictorian of my class. [My parents] didn't want me to do this at all. Like even till now. They're very against me starting my own business. But I, you know, you just have to follow your heart.

Q: How do they feel now? Are they more supportive now that Byppo has been up and running?

A: I think they're more supportive now because they see how serious I am. And that they've seen like, I really found my spot, my place where you really find your passion. When you're truly passionate about [something], then other people can see that, but at first I didn't think they saw it.

Q: So did you create the software?

A: I designed it and hired someone to code it.

Q: Where does “Byppo” come from?

A: When you start a business, that's where you're thinking of, like, what's my business name? How do I want it to do my branding? I wanted it to be creative and cutesy because that's kind of like my personality. I love animals. I was looking through [Google] and then I found out that the most deadly mammal is a hippo. I'm thinking like, well, [when they open their mouths], those are the football fans, hungry. And they want something to eat.

Rae Gutcheon

Q: How do you curate the restaurants?

A: At the beginning of COVID, I kind of accepted any restaurant. We waived all our fees because we want to make sure all the money goes back to the business and their employees so they don’t close down. Because of that, a bunch of restaurants signed up. Now we are much more selective about the restaurants.

We are very picky in terms of it has to be local. We want to support like those holes in the wall, the mom and pop restaurants. And it also needs to exemplify high quality service. We don't want to be Uber, we don’t want to be DoorDash; they're good at what they're doing. Part of us is that we want to make sure our customers trust that we put the best food out there. And because I also run @EatGainesville, a lot of those restaurants are on Byppo.

Q: What are your goals for Byppo?

A: So I want it to be an avenue where students can go on in your city or university and look around and see okay, these are the top 20 restaurants that are recommended. I'm gonna use my budget –– $10. Recommend me food items for my lunch and get it delivered to my house. [A filter like that] is our biggest feature coming up.

Q: What kind of like relationship do you feel like you formed with like the people here?

A: Personal. I know, every single owner I work with, every single restaurant I work with on the app like very well. Like, I always visit them once every other week. They have my personal cell phone number. They call me if they have any issues. You don't have that with DoorDash. You get some random tech guy on the phone; you don't know who they are. I truly believe this the way you should do business because I didn't start with a million dollars. I started it because I really thought there was a problem.

Q: Let’s talk about favorites. What are your favorite restaurants in town for different cuisines?

A: For Thai –– Bangkok Square. Satchel’s for pizza. Japanese food is Dragonfly. Italian is Antonio’s Made In Italy, but they’re not in Gainesville, they’re in Micanopy.

Q: What about your favorite Chinese restaurant?

A: I have yet to find an authentic chinese place here, but Gator Suyaki comes close. Other than that, my own kitchen.