RH Amar – French’s & Frank’s

Get it Right… Make sure you have an Online Menu

Take Stock’s deputy editor Tracy Johnson says all restaurants need to get finger-clicking good…

When my work colleagues arranged a rendezvous one Friday evening, the first thing I did was check out the restaurant menu online.

“Oh wow!” I gasped. “How cool is that?”

Before we’d even discussed what we were wearing or when we were heading out, my expectations for the evening had rocketed with just one click. The website was cool, clever and sassy. As a result, the restaurant had made a good impression on me before I’d had a chance to order a tequila or sample the meaty burritos.

Bright, stylish and colourful, the website was easy to navigate and instructions were clear. You could either scroll down through the site or click on the options at the top of the page to take you straight to the section
you were after.

Buzzing with creativity, the website drew me in with a picture of its Mexican bar and suddenly it felt like I was going loco down in Acapulco – not on the lash in Leeds.

After an engaging but brief introduction (usefully providing opening days and times), the home page featured an amazing, tantalising taster picture of the cuisine on offer tempting you to read the food menu – which was so detailed I knew I’d have food envy once everyone’s order came out!

There were clear contact details and a useful little map. The information was not crammed together but spaciously arranged and articulate. I clicked off with excited anticipation and a rumbling tummy.

Sadly, my enthusiasm for restaurant sites didn’t continue when later that month I went online to book a Sunday lunch treat for the folks at a restaurant which had come highly recommended. This time, my expectations collapsed quicker than a badly baked sponge.

Uninspiring and dull, the site lacked life and imagination. Granted, this venue was a country affair, not a sassy city restaurant. I didn’t expect the same type of website – but I still expected to be impressed and have my appetite whetted.

I’m not a tech geek. I don’t expect ‘all singing, all dancing’ websites that would dazzle geeky Moss from the IT Crowd. But dated, boring pictures of the building, a staircase and garden will not encourage me to visit. Where
is the delicious food I’ve heard so much about that’s ultimately the reason for my visit?

In its favour, it was easy to find the contact details, but to be honest there was little else of interest to divert my eyes or tempt my stomach! By the time I’d made my booking I was already questioning whether I should be going.

Today, with most people glued to smartphones surfing the Internet, a customer’s first impression of a restaurant or
bar rarely happens when they walk through the front door. Creating a good online presence is a must. Sending your sous chef on a graphic design course won’t work, but paying a professional to dish up a good site and making a staff member responsible for keeping it deliciously fresh will.

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