Last year we launched wordpress.com/restaurants, giving restaurants the ability to quickly and easily build a site with menus, maps and directions, an OpenTable reservations widget, and more, along with an elegant new free theme. Since then, we’ve seen restaurants from venerable favorites to underground supper clubs using WordPress.com to entice customers with websites as beautiful as their signature dishes. Here are a few whose sites (and menus!) we love:
POSH is an “improvisational restaurant” in Scottsdale, Arizona where Chef Josh Herbert creates custom menus for each evening’s crowd based on seasonal ingredients and personal preferences. Using the Confit theme developed especially for restaurants, he’s able to give potential patrons a feel for the restaurant with a custom background photo showcasing the restaurant’s interior while maintaining a clean overall feel.
We particularly like the way he’s loaded up the left sidebar with all the key things a customer wants to see — links to information about the chef and his food, the restaurant’s hours and location, the OpenTable reservations widget — while using the rest of the page as a blog to highlight well-loved recipes.
(And Confit doesn’t have to be just for restaurants — it also works for secret supper clubs, rental properties, and more. Visit the Confit page for instructions on configuring all the restaurant-specific features.)
The Elephant Walk, a popular French-Cambodian restaurant in Waltham, Massachusetts, is a “benefit restaurant” — 3% of its profits go to non-profit organizations dedicated to fighting poverty. Using a customized version of the premium Duet theme, they’re spreading the word about their food and mission.
They’ve souped up their site with a custom header (which they carry over into an image widget, to keep the look consistent), and custom navigation that quickly shepherds readers to menus, FAQs, and information on the non-profits they support. As with POSH, they’ve also kept the most popular information in the sidebar, so readers can get directions or make a reservation no matter which page they’re on when the mood strikes.
Friends Matthew and Sean run Canapé, a pop-up restaurant, every Sunday night, taking over an existing restaurant space to present a new 11-course menu. Their site, using a customized version of the free Forever theme, uses stunning close-up photographs of their inventive, refined food to great effect.
Their custom background and header hint at their elegant but playful style, but it’s the slider of featured images that really steals the show — it showcases ten of their perfectly composed dishes, leaving each on the screen just long to activate your Pavlovian response before shifting to the next. Above, a custom menu takes visitors to more information (including a whole page dedicated to food photography, if the slider images weren’t enough for you) while below, blog posts keep followers up to date on upcoming menus and other news.
Some of these sites use premium themes or other upgrades, like a custom domain name or custom design – but not all. The Confit theme is free, as are its options to use a custom background and OpenTable widget. Many other free themes can be customized with a header, slider, and menus, and image widgets are always available for adding more visual interest.
Are you a restaurant owner who needs an upgrade, or just a happy customer whose favorite taco joint has a website from 1997 and wants to help? Welcome to WordPress.com!