A great restaurant website can attract new customers, maintain loyal ones, and raise the overall profile of the establishment outside of the physical location.
But how do you put together a great website when you - the restaurant owner or operator - are busy with the many other critical tasks related to running your restaurant?
Well, building the best restaurant website doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or difficult task. In many cases, there are simple things you can build into your website to share the most important information with your frequent and potential guests.
Check out 12 of our favorite restaurant websites, each paired with a pro tip that explains what makes them stand out. Further down, you can find a slideshow of Toast's 50 best restaurant websites if you need even more inspiration.
Usually, when your guests head to your website, it's to grab the most basic information: the address, the hours, and a way to contact you. Don’t make it difficult! With this being the #1 thing people are looking for, put it front and center - like Acorn does on their website. No scrolling necessary, their basic information is displayed clearly at the top-left of the page.
If the #1 thing people are looking for on your website is when and where to find your restaurant, #2 is what they’ll eat when they get there! That means you should be making it very easy to find and browse your menu(s). Ideally, this will be in webpage format so that it’s easy to click around and search your menu items, but at the very least, you should include a PDF of your latest menus. Parachute in Chicago, IL has simple, beautiful website that makes it extremely easy to find the menu - just scroll down, and there it is!
The more content you have on your website, the more opportunities you have to attract and engage guests online. Boston's Mei Mei Street Kitchen does a great job of this - including information about their restaurant and food truck, content about their local and sustainable approach, as well as links to recent press. On top of all that, they have a blog where they post about their food, events, and more. A blog is a great way to keep customers coming back to your website and staying engaged with you in between visits.
Online ordering is already widespread and continues to increase in volume across the industry. If you don’t offer online ordering - for takeout and/or delivery - you may be missing out on a huge additional revenue stream. And if you do offer online ordering, make it easy for customers to find it on your website! While online ordering sites like GrubHub and Doordash provide the reach and functionality for online ordering, they can also come with big fees. If you've already got a customer on your website, take advantage of that and let them order online, straight from you. Upper Crust Pizzeria, like many pizzerias, does a lot of business via online orders. They prominently display a button at the top of their website to let visitors easily place an order. Alternately, some restaurants choose to provide links to whichever online ordering sites they use to dispatch food to customers' homes.
If you take reservations, make it easy to do on your website instead of sending your customers to the phone. Old Lady Gang in Atlanta, GA puts a reservations form right at the center of their homepage. This way, their guests can easily see what times are available without having to talk to a host that's trying to hear them over the din of the restaurant.
Loyalty programs were created to help restaurants reward their best customers and to encourage repeat visits, creating new regulars. Consumers estimate a restaurant loyalty program would increase their visit rate to a restaurant by an average of 35%, and when a customer is about to unlock their loyalty reward, they spend 39% more on average. If you have a loyalty program, don't just rely on punch cards - make it easy for customers to check their status online, like Costa Vida does through the “Rewards” section of their website.
Many restaurants will run events throughout the week - like Trivia Tuesdays or afternoon Happy Hours - to keep customers coming back at specific, perhaps low traffic, times. This is great content to add to your website to make sure new guests know about the unique things happening at your establishment. Olympia Oyster Bar in Portland, OR has an Upcoming Events section up top, and if you scroll down, you'll find their Weekly Happenings section, as well as more info about their events.
Let Customers Buy Gift Cards and Merchandise Online
If you sell merchandise and/or gift cards in-store, why not also sell them on your website? Lucha Libre Taco Shop in San Diego, CA has a bright-blue button for "Lucha Gear" on their homepage, and if you scroll down, you find a button for e-gift cards. If you make it easy for your customers to buy gift cards or merchandise, they'll be more likely to think of you next time they need to buy a present! Also, offering merchandise creates awareness around your restaurant; your customers will be vouching for your brand in everyday life.
Social media is one of the best ways to engage with your customers and share great photos and updates from your restaurant. Be sure to link to your social accounts right from your website (and vice versa), and even include a feed of your recent updates and photos - it’s a great way to add more interesting content to your website! Dutch’s in Portland, ME, for example, has a big section of their homepage dedicated to their Instagram account, and they also link to a bigger gallery of photos they’ve taken.
Many of your visitors will be checking out your website from their smartphones - whether it’s to grab your address while on their way, or to place an online order while sitting on the couch. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and looks good from a phone; otherwise, you risk missing out on a lot of great customers.
Turn your anonymous visitors into known guests you can email by collecting email addresses on your website. Some restaurants, like Smith & Wollensky Steakhouse, have an email signup link, while others use pop-ups when landing on the website. In all cases, make sure you have a good reason for someone to give you their email address - such as notifications about upcoming events, exclusive promotions, menu specials, or even fun updates from the staff.
Hopefully, you already have people saying wonderful things about your restaurant. Make sure to highlight press quotes and customer reviews right on your website to make it even more appealing to someone trying to decide where to eat. The website for Marlowe, in San Francisco, shows off their many accolades on their homepage, while other restaurant websites choose to create a separate page for recent press.
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