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Things I want to see on a restaurant's website

reality check Oct 11, 2006 08:15 PM

1. Menu. Prices would be nice but I want to see what types of food they offer.

2. Phone number. To call for reservations etc.

3. Hours and days of operation. If a restaurant is going to close on Mon etc, please say so on the website.

If they really thought about it, putting the hours and days of operations online who prevent a lot of phone calls.

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  1. pescatarian RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 08:17 PM

    What I don't like to see is the opening that flashes and that tells you that you can skip if you want, I'd rather just get to the info. I don't like when they don't have menus or when they only have the take-out menu available on-line.

    1. Karl S RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 08:23 PM

      Dash the Flash.

      Extirpate it.

      It is sooooo lame for what people want to view a restaurant site for.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Karl S
        ipsedixit RE: Karl S Oct 11, 2006 10:14 PM

        This is so so so so so true.

      2. Robert Lauriston RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 08:25 PM

        Must have:
        hours & days

        Nice to have:
        current or sample menu
        wine list
        photos of interior and/or food
        chef bio
        events calendar
        online reservations
        email address

        Should not have:
        information in other than HTML or PDF format
        email address nobody ever checks

        Might kill any desire to patronize:
        can't get past front door without Flash player

        Example of what not to do:


        10 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          Karl S RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 11, 2006 08:30 PM

          I fully agree.

          Absolutely hideous example; they should get a refund from the designer of their site.

          1. re: Karl S
            Snackish RE: Karl S Oct 11, 2006 08:34 PM

            After seeing that, I would never go to the restaurant.

            1. re: Snackish
              Robert Lauriston RE: Snackish Oct 11, 2006 09:27 PM

              The pizza's actually very good. If I lived in that neighborhood I'd eat there all the time.

              1. re: Snackish
                marmite RE: Snackish Sep 21, 2007 03:06 PM

                Seconded! Hachi machi. That was terrible.

            2. re: Robert Lauriston
              Morton the Mousse RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 11, 2006 09:12 PM

              Wow! That must be the worst restaurant website in the entire Bay Area. Did the owner's 10 year old build it?

              Only thing I'd add to your list is that it's nice to have a non-wine beverage list. Drives me nuts when I can download a 10 page PDF wine list but I can't even find mention of whether or not they serve beer.
              Also, menus posted without prices are a huge turnoff for me, as if they're trying to hide something. I understand prices may fluctuate, but is it that hard to periodically update the online menu?

              1. re: Morton the Mousse
                Robert Lauriston RE: Morton the Mousse Oct 11, 2006 09:28 PM

                Some restaurant owners hire somebody to set up their Web site as a one-off deal, and never update it. In such cases, I'd rather have no prices than get there and find out they've gone up a lot.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston
                MMRuth RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 11, 2006 10:05 PM

                I have to confess - I kind of like it - it gives me the sense that it might be a fun, family run place that doesn't take itself too seriously. Reminds me a bit of the site of an inn on the North Fork of Long Island opened recently by ex-Gramercy Tavern people. In various parts of the website they have stock photos - but with amusing commentary on such photos. But maybe I have an odd sense of humor.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Bob Martinez RE: Robert Lauriston Oct 12, 2006 04:10 PM

                  That Pizzetta website is the most cloyingly precious thing I've seen all year. Nothing but a love letter to themselves. Gack.

                  1. re: Bob Martinez
                    Das Ubergeek RE: Bob Martinez Oct 12, 2006 04:50 PM

                    Please tell me there's something else besides the obvious there.

                    I could have built that website in two minutes -- 33 linked IMG tags on a while background? I hope to God they didn't pay for it.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                    Chew on That RE: Robert Lauriston Sep 27, 2007 12:41 PM

                    Well said! But I think a menu is also a must have, not a "nice to have" unless the menu changes daily or is seasonal or something.

                  3. silverbear RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 08:26 PM

                    Things I want to see:

                    -- A phone number for reservations is okay, but online reservations via Open Table or a similar service are even better.
                    -- If the restaurant does not take reservations, or takes them only for large groups, that policy should be stated clearly on the Web site. Don't make me call just to learn that no reservations are taken.
                    -- Daily specials. Since many fine restaurants print their menus each day based on what is fresh, it might not be that hard to create a template into which that day's menu might be uploaded.

                    Things I don't want to see (or hear):

                    -- As suggested above, splash screens with fancy graphics and thumping music are not helpful. They take the emphasis away from the food and delay my quest for information.

                    1. Snackish RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 08:34 PM

                      Here's another terrible example:


                      Unfortunately, this designer does almost all of the restaurants in Ventura.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Snackish
                        DanaB RE: Snackish Oct 11, 2006 08:43 PM

                        What's wrong with that one? It seems basic and straightforward when I click on the link. (I don't have sound on my work computer, so if that's the problem, I can't hear it.)

                        1. re: DanaB
                          pescatarian RE: DanaB Oct 11, 2006 08:46 PM

                          Seems a bit too much, too complicated to me, although the information is there, so I wouldn't say it's the worst example. People are used to getting their information in a quick and concise manner these days and that is not an example of concise.

                          1. re: pescatarian
                            Robert Lauriston RE: pescatarian Oct 11, 2006 09:30 PM

                            Overdesigned and too many clicks, but you can find what you want quickly, and none of the basic info requires Flash.

                          2. re: DanaB
                            reality check RE: DanaB Oct 11, 2006 10:49 PM

                            The first page is fine, though the font colors and background could be improved. I don't see the menu, wine list being complicated.

                        2. p
                          Produce Addict RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 08:52 PM

                          Have to disagree on prices -- I find it so frustrating when menus are posted without prices. Part of my calculation of whether I want to go someplace is how much it will cost and there is a big difference between lots of $14 entrees and mostly $20 entrees, a difference that is not necessarily obvious by the menu, general vibe, etc.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Produce Addict
                            S U RE: Produce Addict Oct 11, 2006 10:26 PM

                            I agree... maybe they could state something to the effect of "entrees range from $__ to $__"

                          2. Chowpatty RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 09:04 PM

                            I would agree that prices are good, Flash is bad. But I would say please don't put the menu in PDF either, I hate having to open it to view something, especially if it's written in a cutesy script font to begin with. How hard could it be to retype the menu in clear font on the website?
                            I like this one because it's so damn simple, yet has pretty much everything you need, and was up and running as soon as the restaurant opened:
                            Here's one I find pretty annoying: you have to choose high or low bandwidth, each page takes a while to load, the menu font is hard to read, and there's no hours!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Chowpatty
                              Scagnetti RE: Chowpatty Oct 11, 2006 09:55 PM

                              The http://www.louonvine.com is awful. I really thought it was one of those "Under construction, come back and see us again" web pages.

                              1. re: Scagnetti
                                Robert Lauriston RE: Scagnetti Oct 11, 2006 10:00 PM

                                That's better than 80% of restaurant Web sites. One click gets you address and hours, menu, or wine list, with prices.

                                Maybe it won't win any design awards, but I'd rather a restaurant spend its money on other things.

                              2. re: Chowpatty
                                ipsedixit RE: Chowpatty Oct 11, 2006 10:50 PM

                                Actually, sometimes menus in PDF format are helpful, esp. if you want to print it out.

                              3. ipsedixit RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 10:16 PM

                                Links to Chowhound discussion threads.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  S U RE: ipsedixit Oct 11, 2006 10:28 PM

                                  yup... especially if there are neg. reviews

                                2. h
                                  HillJ RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 10:21 PM

                                  Most "must haves" listed I completely agree with but driving directions to the restaurant would be very helpful; Mapquest for instance is rarely reliable.

                                  1. b
                                    BabyLitigator RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 11:24 PM

                                    Parking information with idiot-proof directions to the lot or valet. A lot of websites 'directions' just link you to a mapquest-type page. In L.A., the 'address' you get there may be a long drive (yet a 100-foot walk) from the parking lot or Valet.

                                    I'm mostly thinking of restaurants like Il Pastaio, where the lunch valet is on the corner, which requires going through three lights to reach from the restaurant address (due to one way streets).

                                    1. jfood RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 11:35 PM

                                      Agree with the flash, unless Scorcese directed it and then I'll sit back and watch.

                                      What I want is:

                                      1 - Menu (prices would be nice (put a disclaimer on it if it changes a little)
                                      2 - Phone number
                                      3 - Hours of operation
                                      4 - Closing time and a definition of what that means, last seating, kitchen down, or waiters out the door.
                                      5 - A picture of the dining room would be nice
                                      6 - Did I say menu and phone number
                                      7 - Photo of the outside so I can recognize when in a cab


                                      1 - I am not interested in dating the chef, show me the kitchen before the posed Pig Book shot, please post on My Space
                                      2 - Reviews. They are all lies, too positive and probably payola-time. The NY Times reviewed a resto in town, gave it an "Excellent" and when you read the text they sent 3 of 5 meals back to the kitch, DUH?
                                      3 - OLD MENUS. It' October 2006. Although some may want to remember April 2005, that's not a good sign if it's still on the site
                                      4 - Links to better restos owned by the same management group. This is the ultimate in upselling, give me a break

                                      1. k
                                        Kater RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 11:48 PM

                                        In addition, I really want to see photos of the food. The way the menu is written tells me a great deal about a restaurant and it's offerings, but pair it with a photo and I know precisely what you're selling.

                                        1. b
                                          bestandworst RE: reality check Oct 11, 2006 11:49 PM

                                          WOW. There is a big market open to web designers that know what they are doing. Those examples are the norm and WOW - such crap.

                                          My city, Toronto, is over-run with flash sites and crappy musak.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: bestandworst
                                            Jacquilynne RE: bestandworst Oct 12, 2006 07:33 PM

                                            Sadly, somebody has already recognized that market in Toronto and tried to fill it. The vast majority of Toronto resto websites are done by one of a small handful of design concerns - most notably MenuPalace - that specialize in restaurant work.

                                            They're out there selling restaurants on the idea that music and flash is the way to go, and it would be very difficult to sell those restaurants on a scaled back, simpler, more static site.

                                            1. re: Jacquilynne
                                              bestandworst RE: Jacquilynne Oct 13, 2006 11:34 PM

                                              Yes I know. I didnt want to mention their name because I hate the sites they put out - SO MUCH!

                                          2. Das Ubergeek RE: reality check Oct 12, 2006 02:23 AM

                                            A big one -- content written by someone fluent in English. Yes, I know that the vast majority of restaurant workers aren't, and yes, I know that continually-updated content (like a daily menu) aren't going to be spelled right...

                                            ...but the static portion of your site, have somebody proficient in the language go over it before you put it into production!

                                            1. free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: reality check Oct 12, 2006 03:13 AM

                                              Dress code, corkage fee, cake slicing fee and cost to share a plate (should the pdf not be a direct copy of the menu).

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
                                                toodie jane RE: free sample addict aka Tracy L Oct 16, 2006 03:47 PM

                                                sorry, cake slicing fee?--oh, I get it duh- if you brig in your own.

                                                neeeveeeer mind....

                                                1. re: toodie jane
                                                  free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: toodie jane Oct 17, 2006 02:45 AM

                                                  I didn't know they existed either until I was charged a cake slicing fee.

                                                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
                                                    alanbarnes RE: free sample addict aka Tracy L Sep 21, 2007 06:09 PM

                                                    Aka "cakeage." Clearer and cleverer.

                                              2. mangorita RE: reality check Oct 12, 2006 02:50 PM

                                                I agree with most of what is said here.

                                                The most important things to me to see in a restaurant's website are:
                                                1) Hours, address & phone number
                                                2) menu-- preferably with prices (or at least put up a sample menu so I can see if it is the sort of place that I can take my super picky brother, my non-pork-eating husband or my vegetarian friends)
                                                3) Reservation policy, accepted payment types
                                                4) Directions that they've written with landmarks etc.
                                                5) How to get there via public transportation
                                                6) photos of the exterior and of the dining room

                                                I also hate the overly Flash-y sites. Flash is good when used in moderation. I hate sites that replay an entire 30+ seconds flash sequence whenever you go back to the main page.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: mangorita
                                                  Karl S RE: mangorita Oct 12, 2006 03:01 PM

                                                  Yes, for those of us with access issues, seeing the seating layout and chairs can be a make or break.

                                                2. pescatarian RE: reality check Oct 12, 2006 06:11 PM

                                                  Actually what bothers me most is when they don't have one at all. I was just reminded of this as I was searching for one that I'm going to on Sat night. Very popular restaurant. No website. I think that's my biggest pet peeve re restaurant websites.

                                                  1. r
                                                    reality check RE: reality check Oct 12, 2006 10:22 PM

                                                    A restaurant's website listed their hours as DAILY 11am-9pm.

                                                    But they closed at 5pm on Sunday and are completely closed on Monday.

                                                    I guess that restaurant and I used a different dictionary.

                                                    1. l
                                                      Leonardo RE: reality check Oct 13, 2006 11:41 PM

                                                      What everyone else said about no overdesigned, animation, flash, music, menu from four years ago, etc.

                                                      I like a link to Open Table so I may place a realtime reservation.

                                                      Any restaranteurs reading this and taking notes???

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: Leonardo
                                                        dagoose RE: Leonardo Sep 21, 2007 02:21 PM

                                                        Not a restaurateur, but I do restaurant marketing and maintain sites, so I'm here, reading and taking notes.

                                                      2. silverbear RE: reality check Oct 13, 2006 11:57 PM

                                                        Another observation: For some reason, most restaurants within hotels and resorts lack helpful Web sites. There is usually a page on the property's Web site labeled "dining" and that page describes the restaurant(s) on site, but there is almost never a menu or any of the other items mentioned in this thread. Most hotels and resorts seem to be missing an opportunity to promote their restaurants effectively.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: silverbear
                                                          Das Ubergeek RE: silverbear Oct 16, 2006 05:43 PM

                                                          Not to mention that if it's in a chain hotel (and there are some very good restaurants in chain hotels) you probably have to go to the chain's website, put in some bogus travel information, and submit the form in order to be able to get to that hotel's specific page.

                                                          1. re: silverbear
                                                            Chowpatty RE: silverbear Oct 16, 2006 06:30 PM

                                                            That's so true about hotel restaurants! And even when they do have menus, you have to go through the hotel address rigamarole to get there. They should consider having one URL for the restaurant, and another for the hotel with links to the restaurant.

                                                          2. Scrapironchef RE: reality check Oct 16, 2006 05:10 PM

                                                            If they are going to post a menu, attach the date, "menu and prices as of".

                                                            How about posting their last health inspection date and score.

                                                            For those of us of who eat sushi, whether or not the place is owned by Rev. Moon.

                                                            1. s
                                                              shauben2007 RE: reality check Oct 16, 2006 11:28 PM

                                                              Pizetta needs one slight modification :)


                                                              It's also flash, not sure why?

                                                              Agree with alot of what was said here, one thing I'd like to see in general is menu w/prices in PDF or printable format.


                                                              1. anna RE: reality check Oct 17, 2006 04:08 AM

                                                                Now that we have a puppy, I really love to see information about the outdoor dining area of restaurants. I would love to know if the outdoor seating is available during all hour of operations, if the area is heated, and of course, is the area pet friendly.

                                                                1. s
                                                                  swsidejim RE: reality check Sep 21, 2007 02:24 PM

                                                                  1) Menu with descriptions & prices
                                                                  2) address and phone numbers
                                                                  3) hours of operation
                                                                  4) a bar menu listing out what beers, and tequillas they pour
                                                                  5) pictures of some menu items, and the dining area

                                                                  1. p
                                                                    piccola RE: reality check Sep 21, 2007 05:48 PM

                                                                    OK, so the usual: hours, location, menus, prices, contact information, reservation policy (do they take them? etc.), whether they accommodate special diets, reviews

                                                                    Then, the added value: the day's specials, photos of the space and the food, the number of seats, the closest subway/bus stop, an online reservation form, an online feedback form (that the management actually reads), nutritional information (when it's possible, let's not go crazy here), a calendar of events if there's live music or whatever

                                                                    The big no-nos: music of any kind, really busy design, pop-ups, long-winded praise of the chef and his/her "art"

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: piccola
                                                                      BostonZest RE: piccola Sep 21, 2007 06:51 PM

                                                                      Ah but I would love to know what music they play at the restaurant. Music is my pet peeve and I won't go anywhere that plays rock, tech, vocals or edgy music.

                                                                      1. re: BostonZest
                                                                        piccola RE: BostonZest Sep 22, 2007 06:48 AM

                                                                        Sure, but the music on the website is almost never the music they play in-house.

                                                                        1. re: piccola
                                                                          camp1980 RE: piccola Sep 28, 2007 12:23 PM

                                                                          I HATE music on website. Especially when there isn't even an option to turn off the music. Mainly cause I am usually at work when trying to decide on a restaurant and my computer is very slow and my volume control doesn't always work very quickly. My coworkers a few times have asked where that 'noise' was coming from.

                                                                          I don't go to restaurant websites to hear music, that is what music websites are for.

                                                                          1. re: camp1980
                                                                            BostonZest RE: camp1980 Sep 28, 2007 02:18 PM

                                                                            Sorry, I wasn't clear, I don't want to hear music on the website. I just want to have a one line description of the music. I guess I can continue to call ahead and ask about music but I would love to have that aspect of the place included on the site.

                                                                            1. re: BostonZest
                                                                              WNCfoodie RE: BostonZest Sep 30, 2007 09:18 AM

                                                                              I am sorry, but I think "What type of music they play" is a bit much. A lot of restaurants (the one I work at as well) Change the music based upon the crowd. If its later in the evening on a friday night, and we have a younger crowd, the music would be different than say a Tuesday night, at 6:30, with an older, more professional crowd.

                                                                    2. Gio RE: reality check Sep 21, 2007 07:01 PM

                                                                      Whether or not a restaurant is fully wheelchair accessable is very important to many people. That includes rest rooms too. Too often it is not mentioned on the web sites.

                                                                      1. jeni1002 RE: reality check Sep 22, 2007 06:10 AM

                                                                        This was mentioned in one of the posts, but it's worth re-iterating: a Last Updated line....it's always good to know if this is last year's menu, whether I should expect the prices to be in the same ballpark, etc. etc.

                                                                        While this also shows how well a site is maintained, I would rather look at an old site that tells me it was updated last year than at one with no date information....My other pet peeve: scanned menus with small fonts (i.e., font size cannot be increased).

                                                                        And one last thing: if the restaurant does not take Amex or only takes Amex, I would like to know that in advance, so an online reminder is always useful.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: jeni1002
                                                                          ekammin RE: jeni1002 Sep 24, 2007 01:29 PM

                                                                          Being up to date is very important. There is nothing more discouraging than ordering something that was $8.95 on the website menu, and being charged the new price of $15.95, unless it is being told "Oh, THAT! We took it off the menu last year. Lack of demand, you know."

                                                                        2. blondie60614 RE: reality check Sep 28, 2007 04:17 PM

                                                                          I also like to see a picture, or something that gives me an idea of the atmosphere.

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