Serving up local food on the world wide web
By Tamara Nicola
Next time you are having a hard time deciding what’s for dinner, turn to the internet for some great ideas. Time Magazine recently featured one of my favourite recipe sites in their 50 best websites list, www.opensourcefood.com. This site really gets your cravings going. Their motto is “Amazing recipes, delicious food and beautiful photography. Created and rated by you and fellow food-lovers from all over the world.” Some other old time favourites include www.allrecipes.com, www.epicurious.com and www.foodnetwork.com
Don’t feel like cooking? Browse local restaurant menus online before heading out. You can find menus for F.I.N.E., School House Restaurant, the Colonial and more. It’s a great resource if you are thinking about ordering take-out, or if you can’t decide which restaurant to choose.
I have discovered that a surprising number of local restaurants still don’t have a web presence. For those planning to take the plunge here are a few suggestions to consider while designing your site.
Feature menus with prices; avoid pictures of food dishes unless you hire a professional photographer. Focus your website pictures on the decor and features like an outdoor patio. Include a brief history of your establishment and spotlight the chef and staff.
Make it easy for people to find you. Along with your address be sure to include a map to your location. Include your hours of operation and telephone number for reservations. As you gear up your operations each spring, your website is a great place to list employment opportunities.
Want to step ahead of the crowd? Allow customers to place a takeout or delivery order online. It is easy to setup on your website and when an order comes in you receive an email, a fax or the alert can be integrated into your existing point of sale system. Check out www.ziptogo.com. How about including a simple Paypal.com shopping cart to offer up your famous special sauce or signature t-shirts? Get creative and have fun.
As computers get smaller and cell phones get smarter more people will be browsing on the go. Offering wireless internet access at your location could bring you additional business clientele and a loyal following from the generation y crowd. Jalapeno’s on Main Street offers a free internet hotspot alongside their killer hot sauce. Way to go Jalapeno’s!