7 Tools Restaurants Can Use to Post Menus Online

When it comes time to decide which restaurant to visit on any given night, a vast majority of adults now turn to the web for guidance. Unfortunately, the information they’re likely to find about locally owned establishments is often sparse. According to a 2012 survey by Restaurant Sciences, a provider of restaurant industry information and analytics, 50% of independent restaurants maintain their own websites. Of those, only 40% display current menus online.

Menus are among the first things that a customer looks at when trying to decide which restaurant to visit, and restaurants with outdated menus on their websites — or even worse, no menus at all — are likely to be passed over by consumers. Here are seven popular marketing platforms that make it easier for busy restaurateurs to publish and update their menus online.

1. Locu
Locu is a platform that restaurateurs can use to upload, design, edit, and publish menus on their own websites, mobile apps, and social media pages. Uploading new menus and changing out certain prices or dishes is incredibly simple, which allows business owners to update their menus with new specials each night. Any changes that a restaurateur makes to his menu from within the Locu platform are reflected on his own website, mobile apps, and Facebook page automatically. Locu offers a basic service to business owners for free, and charges $25 per month for additional support.

2. SinglePlatform
Since being acquired by Constant Contact earlier this year, SinglePlatform has continued to offer restaurants a way to publish their menus on hundreds of websites and mobile apps. Businesses upload their menus and make edits to the design or content from within the SinglePlatform system, and the information they publish goes out to popular destinations like Foursquare, UrbanSpoon, and YellowPages. Businesses can also use SinglePlatform to create their own mobile websites. SinglePlatform charges $495 for a one-year account.

3. Delivery.com
When they join the Delivery.com network, restaurants can request a custom built landing page where they can post their complete menus and other pertinent business information online. Customers can also find a restaurant’s menu by browsing through the Delivery.com site. Delivery.com charges restaurants 7%-12% of each order that is placed through its system.  The company also offers restaurant partners free marketing tools including websites and online ordering buttons.

4. MustHaveMenus
Restaurants looking to consolidate the process of updating both their printed and online menus can use MustHaveMenus for the job. The company offers 3,000 menu templates, and provides users with a platform for quickly making edits online. Once an update to a menu has been made, a restaurateur can publish his menu on his own website or mobile app, along with his Facebook page and various Internet directories. MustHaveMenus is also developing a printing service that creates printed menus that restaurateurs can use at their physical establishments. Pricing plans start at $15 per month.

5. MenuPages
Restaurateurs in eight major cities can submit their menus to MenuPages by uploading them to the site, or sending them in via email or fax. In order for a menu to be published on the MenuPages platform, the business owner must include a physical address and a printed menu (which excludes anything handwritten). Restaurateurs can also submit updated menus as frequently as they wish to reflect changes in price or item selection. MenuPages is free for businesses.

6. Seamless
Restaurants that partner with Seamless to offer take-out and delivery can publish their menus on the platform for free. Seamless has already published more than 40,000 menus online since acquiring MenuPages in 2011, which means restaurants that have submitted their menus to MenuPages might already have their information posted on Seamless without even realizing it. Seamless charges restaurants a fee of 12% to 18% of each order placed through the platform.

7. Yelp
Business owners looking to take a hand-off approach to online menus can rely on Yelp. The consumer reviews platform recently created “visual menus” by aggregating the data from reviews that mention specific dishes, and combining that information with user-uploaded food photos. Restaurants can also add links to the menus they’ve posted on their existing websites to their Yelp business pages, as well. Businesses can claim their pages on Yelp and add links to their menus for free.

Know of other platforms that restaurants should use to post menus online? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

  • http://twitter.com/ultapay ultapay

    Check out our friends at http://ordr.in/. They are awesome!

  • Megan

    GrubHub for online menus, or for interactive, functional digital menus on tablets try E la Carte!

  • sv

    http://OpenMenu.com is a big player in this space….

  • http://www.facebook.com/lilacdragon81 Steph Woodward

    As I was updating our Foursquare account for The Studio, a coffee shop in Warsaw, Indiana, I noticed that there was an option to add a menu, but you have to do so via Single Platform. I had never heard of this company, but I clicked the link and filled out the form. Took me a few tries to get it submitted (it appears their website isn’t very Mac friendly) and that’s when I found out that what I was filling out was an application for a sales call that I would receive the next day. I’m not a fan of sales calls. Ever. And Single Platform certainly reminded me why that’s the case.

    After speaking to the sales rep, who had me sit through a presentation via join.me on her computer (good thing I was near a computer when she called… I have no idea how she would have pitched me if I, like many people, would have been somewhere where a computer wasn’t in front of me), I was thinking “Hmmm… This sounds a little pricey for my small business, but if it can cut down on my social media management time, perhaps it’s worth it.” They promised me a 2 month free trial, after which I would pay $49.95 per month. They promised me I could manage my social media updates from my account, “like Hootsuite” (which is what I currently use and asked specifically about as a comparison). They promised me I could update my menu myself, or they would do it for me, and it would automatically update on all of their publishers. And they promised me a phone call for “orientation” the next day.

    Now, I have to commend the sales rep. She had done her research. She had looked through my facebook page. She had seen my menu on there (currently posted for free via OpenMenu). She made this sound like it could save me time and give me an edge in the online marketplace. She did her job. She sold me. But then I got the call from the “Account Manager”, and found out that the sales call was nothing more than an oversell to what appears to be an extremely lackluster product from a frighteningly un-reachable company. Seriously… why the lack of transparency? Why hide all contact info for people who can actually FIX a problem rather than sell you a product? Why don’t they allow posts from followers on their own social media platforms? When a company is this opaque and difficult to reach, it makes you wonder what they’re hiding. You’re selling marketing tools, not military grade weapons, Single Platform. Customer feedback should be your TOP priority, not something you make impossible for anybody to provide or share.

    In the end, I found out that what these people, who are trying to sell a digital marketing tool, apparently have no idea what the digital marketplace actually consists of. Their idea of “social media” is limited to Twitter and Facebook. I had to explain that even in a small market of 13,000 people (which is the population of the city where my store is located), people have heard of things like Foursquare and Google Plus. And they’re considered Social Media. You probably better know how to use them if you want any of the college students around here to be able to find you. Why would I pay for a service to update only TWO of my social media accounts? How does that save me any time? This platform is worthless in terms of updating your social media. And while it might be worthwhile to pay $50 per month to have your menu updated regularly if you’re in a larger metropolitan area where you would be reaching hundreds of thousands of people, I can’t justify that expense JUST to have my menu update automatically to multiple platforms where I’d be reaching MAYBE a few thousand people, AT BEST. That’s ridiculous. Also, for the record, they informed me it would take 3 – 5 weeks for my menu to be picked up by these publishers once it was launched. So by the time my menu is actually out there, I have almost no time left of my “free trial” to evaluate the results and find out if it’s helped increase traffic to my store. Perhaps they should wait to start charging for their service (even if you’re in a free trial period) until they actually have your menu ON these sites.

    Needless to say, I was less than impressed with the actual product, once I received my “orientation” (which was far shorter than the sales call, if that tells you anything). I asked to speak to a manager, and after leaving to “check and see if she could find anybody”, I was told that I wouldn’t be allowed to speak to anybody. And reminded several times of how she was “listening to everything I was saying”, despite the fact that she offered no solutions to my concerns. She told me she would call me back in a MONTH to check on me. I told her if I didn’t hear from someone in management, who could actually DO something about the concerns I have, within the next WEEK, that she could cancel my free trial. I don’t like working with companies that provide NO customer service. And that’s exactly how this company is set up. You’ll take what they give you, or nothing at all. No room for feedback. No way to discuss concerns or problems. No tech support line. No managers available to address anything. Just sales people. Who oversell what their product actually offers and don’t understand what “social media” actually is, even though they’re selling a product intended to enhance it. If this doesn’t create some serious red flags for the public, then you’re not paying enough attention. Just for kicks, go around and try to find some reviews from actual customers anywhere on the internet about this place. I found ONE blog post in my google results. Everything else was just an overview of the product. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Why is a company selling a product to increase online profiles practically non-existant in terms of their own profile?

    I’ll update this if I ever hear back from somebody in Management at Single Platform, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Gerald

    I use http://www.mobiletummy.com one stop platform at my 5 franchise stores. They offer multi channel ordering with both online/mobile and in-store self service KIOSKs. They have 500 restaurants in SF Bay, Los Angles and Austin, large user base. Growing nationwide. I am sure you will be amazed with their offerings.

  • Danya Anderson

    Seriously discourage Yelp for new owners, please. Also Locu is GoDaddy, which some people don’t adore.

  • Ana

    You can list your venue & menus for free on http://www.waltychef.com

  • Bert

    In Chicago area we have My Vicinia. You may want to check them out at http://www.myvicinia.com. For now since they are in pilot stage, it is free.

    For restaurants & bars, My Vicinia is our own private mobile club with power of neighborhood network. We get their own App. We can also manage their Facebook page and email marketing through My Vicinia.

    For consumers, it provides convenience and simplicity of one App that connects them to all their favorite places for personalized services tailored to their needs. They get to know daily specials, place an order or make reservations through the App.