For anyone living in the Katy area with a Facebook account, chances are they have heard of the Katy/Fort Bend Foodies group. From its spontaneous beginnings in late 2014 to its more than 26,000 members this year, users rely on it for more than just recommendations on burgers in town.

Lifelong Fort Bend County resident Andrew Leeper launched the Foodies Facebook group by sharing pictures of his homemade barbecue with friends. The group started sharing more food pictures and then members asked each other for restaurant reviews.

“I posted something like, ‘The food was pretty good and they were very nice people. Y’all should check them out sometime,’” Leeper said via email.  “Now here we are 26,000 members later.”

He asked his daughter, Angelina Allen, to help manage the page as an administrator. But Allen, who works for her father’s lawn care and landscaping business, said she realized she needed help screening posts.

“We grew really fast at a certain point,” she said.

Lisa Martens, an accounting manager for Champion Process Inc., said the Katy area’s overall growth and the work of her fellow administrators helped the group thrive.

“I’ve had members tell me, ‘While I never or seldom post, I appreciate the page for the fact I can search, read opinions and make a decision based on the dialogue,’” she said via email.

Administrator Sean Fitzsimmons said Hurricane Harvey nearly doubled membership as well. Members used the group to find out which restaurants were open and who was donating food.

Posts range from restaurant reviews and recommendations to recipes, pictures of people’s home cooking and questions about the kitchen. All posts do not necessarily need to address Katy restaurants, but they must be food-related, Allen said.

Allen, Fitzsimmons and fellow Administrator Brian Walz said one of their favorite aspects of the Foodies page is seeing restaurant owners engaging with customers.

“I would think as well that the page has helped the owners, especially that are active in there, step up their game,” Fitzsimmons  said. “That’s a good thing because they’re getting that direct communication with customers in ways that even Yelp and Tripadvisor, and some of the other ones don’t necessarily afford them.”

Moving forward, Allen said she would like more restaurants to get involved with events.

“That community aspect of it, and that bringing together that food and beverages do, you don’t get that with anything else,” Fitzsimmons said.