Building a great online presence is essential to the success of your restaurant. Well-designed restaurant websites are the cornerstone of this online presence and can serve to both attract new customers and build loyalty in existing customers. That’s the holy grail of restaurant marketing. But how do you create an inspiring restaurant website? What should you include and what should you leave out?
There are so many options for website design these days that it can seem like an overwhelming, difficult, and time-consuming task. But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Instead, why not get inspiration from businesses that are already doing it right. We’ve created this list of the best restaurant websites, and the specific features they do well, so that you can generate ideas for your own online presence.
Examples of Awesome Restaurant Websites
1. Transfer Pizzeria Cafe
Transfer Pizzeria Cafe’s simple yet effective website packs all the necessary information onto a single page…all without looking cluttered or feeling crowded. It also does a great job of making sure you can find their location. The addition of an on-page Google map means even visitors to the city will be able to sample Transfer’s tasty menu.
2. Baan Thai
The Baan Thai restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana makes great use of high-resolution pictures to draw in website visitors. Color abounds wherever you look and the vivid representations of the Thai region make you feel like you’re already there. Don’t settle for washed-out, blurry photos on your website. If need be, hire a professional photographer or purchase high-resolution photos online to give your website the extra kick it needs.
3. Gramercy Tavern
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And what better way to greet your restaurant’s website visitors than with a warm and inviting image that communicates the story of your business. Case in point, Gramercy Tavern. The opening image that greets website visitors is just begging to be studied. Better yet, it makes you want to visit their restaurant to see this beautiful bar in person. If your restaurant has a unique design, highlight it in a prominent position on your website.
AuCheval in Chicago, Illinois does a wonderful job of making their website all about the food and the atmosphere. Notice anything about the website image above? There’s no text. The entire page is given over to images of the delicious food AuCheval serves. All of the navigation tools are packed away in the menu at the top right of the screen. AuCheval understands that all the text in the world won’t drive hungry customers through the door like mouth-watering pictures will.
Color affects the overall message your restaurant and your website conveys to potential customers. Color choices like browns and grays can beckon customers to sit and stay for awhile while bright colors motivate visitors to eat and be on their way. The Schlotzsky’s website pairs stimulating hues of red and green to stimulate appetite and motivate visitors into action (“Yes, you’re hungry. Get off your butt and come have a sandwich!”). Do some research into color combinations for restaurants and choose a palette that communicates your restaurant’s unique message.
6. Pizza My Heart
There’s nothing like showcasing people who love your food. Pizza My Heart does this in spades by offering patrons and website visitors the opportunity to get involved. Simply purchase a Pizza My Heart t-shirt, snap a pic of someone wearing it (preferably in some exotic locale), post it online, and you could win a gift card. Involving customers in some sweepstakes or contest is a great way to build loyalty for your restaurant.
7. Joseph Decuis
Helping people think outside the box is always a good thing to do on your website. The Joseph Decuis website reminds visitors that a special event is more memorable when celebrated in an exceptional location. If your restaurant offers it, mention that special events are welcome and tell website visitors how they can make that event the best it can be.
8. Taco Bell
Convenience is key these days and nothing makes fast food faster than ordering it online. Taco Bell showcases this handy option at the very top of its website. Customers need only find a Taco Bell on their mobile device, place an order online, and stop long enough to pay. For people with busy, on-the-go lives, this is nothing short of a godsend. If your restaurant can handle online ordering, consider featuring it prominently on your website.
9. Pizza Hut
People love a good origin story, especially when it comes to restaurants. What drove this business into existence? What put this restaurant on the map? A good origin story gives personality and flavor (no pun intended) to the food your customers love. International chain Pizza Hut does a nice job of telling visitors how they got started and why their business is called Pizza Hut (the sign only had room for eight letters). It’s little details like these that add character to a restaurant and make it feel like a member of the family rather than an impersonal business out for nothing but your money. If you have a compelling origin story, or even if you don’t, add an “About” page to your restaurant website to draw customers in.
The restaurant business is all about good food. A website without at least a small description of the restaurant’s fare is like peanut butter without jelly or Mickey without Minnie. Katsuya takes this to heart and makes sure to list as much of their food as possible. We also appreciate the note at the upper left (under the word “Menu”) that “this is just a tiny taste of the Katsuya experience.” It lets visitors know that there’s more in store for them when they visit the physical location. Consider highlighting at least a few of your signature dishes in a prominent position on your website.
Good press is a powerful motivator in the restaurant industry. It tells potential customers that other people—and enough of them—like your fare to the point that you deserve a write-up. The restaurant dubbed simply Lee does a nice job of highlighting the positive press it has received. The website uses large, eye-catching images of the publications in which it has been featured to show visitors that this might just be someplace worth visiting. Even one piece of glowing press can be enough to drive customers through the door. So be sure to mention at least one or two great reviews somewhere on your website.
Got a special event like a wine tasting or a holiday bash planned for your restaurant? Feature it in an announcements section to drive interest. Pastaria makes nice use of their announcements section with an interesting background and presentation. It’s a fun and eye-catching way to present information that might otherwise be skipped by hurried website visitors. Get creative with your announcements section, such as a scrolling marquee at the bottom of your homepage, so that customers are compelled to stop and read. The more creative you can be, the more memorable your announcements will be. That translates to increased attendance, word-of-mouth, and eventual event success.
13. Susie Cakes
People love to get stuff for free, so restaurant rewards programs are a great way to increase customer loyalty. Susie Cakes bakery does a fine job of highlighting their rewards program and making it easy to sign up. Plus, you get a reward just for signing up. Clever! If you don’t already have a rewards program, consider creating one to motivate customers to return. The apps used to make these rewards programs a reality cost pennies on the dollar compared to the returns you can get from bringing people back through the door repeatedly. If you institute a rewards program, be sure to place it prominently on your website so that everyone can get involved.
14. Steak N Shake
There’s something to be said for a long, scrollable, one-page website. It’s convenient and works well on your customers’ mobile phones and tablets. But equally as well suited to these devices is the one-page site with no scrolling. Take Steak ‘n Shake’s website for example. What you see above is what you get. The middle section does change to highlight current specials, but there’s no need to scroll up or down to find the information you need. All the navigation is right there at the top and each of these choices leads to another one-page display. It’s simple, easy to navigate, and is suited for both small mobile devices and large desktop computers. Don’t think your website has to be fancy and complicated to make a statement. Sometimes less is more.
15. Zao Asian Cafe
It’s important to remember that more than just your customers will visit your website. Potential employees will visit it too. That’s why it’s so important to include a careers section so that these unique visitors can get in touch. Zao Asian Cafe does a great job of making their career section stand out by including a picture of some happy employees. They also make it easy to apply with simple instructions at the top of the page. Take a note from Zao’s playbook and bring potential employees to you with a simple and effective career section.
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