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Is a website a value for a restaurant?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Just today I received a phone call from a good friend of mine who is a chef. He is heading to New York very soon to give a talk on the Internet in regards to what the value it has to a restaurant. After getting off my soapbox and telling all of the many things a website can mean to a restaurant I also mentioned that this would be a good topic for the Cafe.

Having said that, how many of you have websites, and has been a good investment for you? In terms of being a good investment I mean has it brought you business, help to build lasting relationships with clientele, etc?

It will be really interesting to hear from everyone on this topic, I look forward to the replies.

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Nicko
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Nicko 
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All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #2 of 15
From a hospitality/tourism point of view, I think a website is definitely worth it - if you are in a tourism based area. So many of our guests have already researched their "plan of attack" and know exactly what they want to see and where they want to go. Many of them plan their meals in to those schedules. I can't tell you how many times a guest has e-mailed asking for reccommendations for a great restaurant to celebrate their honeymoon, anniversary, whatever in. I can sit there and say my top 4 restaurants are A, B, C & D. Restaurants A and C have websites with menus at www.whatever.com. Restaurant B is an upscale restaurant with a very professional waitstaff and a traditional European cuisine, etc. 9 times out of 10 it's one of those 2 restaurants with a website that get the meal. And now that we've been open long enough to start getting that repeat business, those folks come back and eat at the same restaurant.

Also, for me as a host of a B&B, I also have a notebook with all the menus of the restaurants we reccomend. I pulled several off the net, easy to find, easy to reccomend.

For all of those that have control; please give hospitality professionals your menus--they do put them out and people do use them. It's hard to reccomend a great restaurant and have menus from bunches of others without a menu!

Thanks,

Lynne
Sweet Dreams!!
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Sweet Dreams!!
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post #3 of 15
There's this pizza place that I really like in Berkeley. They only serve one type of pizza a day. I heard that they were thinking about building a website which might include a sign-up email where you can sent the flavor of the day everyday.
A friend of mine asked me about a website for her restaurant which changes their menu everyday. I asked my web design teacher if it was possible for the chef to post the menu everyday w/o the help of the web designer. She said yes; the chef would only need to spend about 4 to 8 hours learning how to use a program that would allow this.
I also read that Charlie Trotter (!!!) likes his website cause so many of his customers were from out of town.
This was a long winded way of my saying that yes, I think websites are helpful for restaurants.
post #4 of 15
Mo. Chapter of chef's Collaborative's farmer dinners and the market schedule is on Saucecafe.com It has saved me hours not having to field calls or go through a mailing. We sold out on our dinners many 3-4 weeks ahead of time. YES it worked for us.
I'm having the Saucecafe girls talk at St.Louis Culinary Society's meeting on the same subject 1-2 quarter of 2001......
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 15
I agree with Timothy Banning about websites for caterers too. So many people even if they are getting married where they currently live are resorting to the web for everything from the wedding space to reception space to caterers, music and wedding cakes (and there are some fantastic cake sites out there). People have run out of time with crazy schedules and need something they can look at that is not 9am-5pm.

We also get requests from brides living out of town but planning a San Antonio wedding asking about restaurants online that are suitable for rehearsal dinners, etc.

Christmas party requests are also coming off the web.

By the way, speaking of weddings, how many of you would consider a wedding of 250 to be "small and intimate"? A direct quote from a telephone query from this morning...
Sweet Dreams!!
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Sweet Dreams!!
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post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
250? Our wedding was 190 and it was a lot of people. Intimate to me would be about 30.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #7 of 15
www.opentable.com is an online restaurant reservation system with 1,200+ restaurants signed up in 22 markets.

When I use Opentable (and I have often), I find that I choose a restaurant based on either 1)been there before and like it 2)recommendation 3)they have a website linked from Opentable and I can review the menu.

Of the 15 or so places I have reserved through Opentable, only a few have been places I had been before or were recommended. If I can view a menu on a website and it looks good, I go. The restaurant I work at just signed up with them and we have a website that will be linked to it. Opentable offers a great service to restaurants, Jardiniere (in SF)had over 1,000 first-time reservers through Opentable within the first few months of service.

I think if you use a webpage as part of a bigger marketing plan, it sure isn't going to hurt your business.

Fit Family Nutrition

FitFamilyNutrition@gmail.com

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Fit Family Nutrition

FitFamilyNutrition@gmail.com

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post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Great comments everyone, keep'em coming.

------------------
Thanks,

Nicko
nicko@cheftalk.com
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #9 of 15
Having a website is simply another form of communication. I don't think you could have a better investment in terms of positive effects.

It works for you 24/7 and people go to you to find your information. So as long as you use common sense and your content reflects the restaurant and it's services, go for it!
post #10 of 15
Cool post Topchef! I want to do that HTML UBB stuff too....I actually sat down and check out the directions on this site at lunch....SEEE that's what running a website will do "Mother of Necessity" learning new skills every day.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #11 of 15
You guys, I am going to web design school and here is an HTML book that I highly recommend:
HTML for the world wide web by Elizabeth Castro. It was recommended by our HTML teacher. Also, this website- webmonkey.com is a great resource. Good luck!
post #12 of 15
I think regardless of what line of business you are in, a site is pretty standard fare these days. It's like having stationary or business cards- people just expect it.
Michael
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Michael
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post #13 of 15
If you do a web site -and the feedback says you will. Just some hints from having been the business for the last 10 years.

1. Give the web author your current marketing information - it makes their job easier as they don't have to develop it from scratch. If you have electronic copies of your logo etc. get it to them in the format they want (jpg, gif, eps etc.)
2. Makes sure your print and web marketing is coordinated.
3. Get and keep a copy of your website and the passwords. I have seen web authors hold webs sites hostage if there is a disagreement over money etc.
4. Register and own your own domain name if you get one - don't let the web hosting company or web author register it in their name.
5. Give the web author the URLs of three sites you like and 3 sites you don't so they have some idea what you want.
6. Ask and answer lots of questions in the design phase - it makes the final product better.
7. Keep the site fresh and up-to-date.
8. Make sure the author designs the site so you or one of your staff can make periodic updates when things change.

Best of luck.
post #14 of 15

Good idea then Even better today

38 years ago, I recommended to the chef/owner of the restaurant that I was a cook in that people would really appreciate knowing in advance what the daily specials were going to be. I told him he ought to consider putting an ad in the local papers. He took my advice, and people made reservations like crazy for the days that we served their favorites. By his own estimate, he said business increased 30-40% overall.

The internet only makes 1000% more sense today, because of all the reasons given above in this thread.

doc
post #15 of 15
I had my website up before we opened! I bought a copy of MS Frontpage and did it myself. Not much to it and it only cost about $8 a month. Registered with all the search engines and restaurant related websites. It has been invaluable!
" I hate people who do not take their meals seriously" Oscar Wilde
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" I hate people who do not take their meals seriously" Oscar Wilde
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