If only we can search for restaurants, takeout menus, and food deliveries in the same easy, convenient, hassle-free way we can search for pretty much anything else on Google…
Wait. Hold that thought. Because there is actually a way to do just that. Or ways, rather. Plural form.
Search engines for restaurants? It is no longer just a possibility. It’s now a reality.
It’s a pretty convenient reality, too. If you’re a customer, you’ll no longer have to keep calling the same old pizza place every Friday night. No more queuing up for half an hour at your favorite café, and no more getting frustrated by botched phone orders. Just click and eat.
If you’re a restaurant, café, bakery, fast food company, florist, or caterer, then you’ll have a chance – unlike any other you’ve had – to leverage the Internet and tap into a new audience: people who stay in and look at your menu – not from the dinner table, but from their computer desks. All you have to do is get your business listed in these websites.
We recently covered the topics of online ordering – and what its advantages are to delivery businesses. Now, we’ve come up with a list of search engines for restaurants (or, more appropriately, a foodie’s life-savers). All of these sites offer free basic services – they make money by charging restaurants a commission on orders processed. At any rate, regardless of whether you’re a customer or a business owner, it might do you a world of good to acknowledge and leverage the fact that these days, the food services industry is now serving the “Internets”.
GrubHub.com: Founded by Chicago software engineers Matt Maloney and Mike Evans, GrubHub lets users enter their addresses to find nearby restaurants that do delivery. If they’re craving something in particular – say, Thai food or Mediterranean – they can also search by cuisine, browse through online menus, and place their orders online. GrubHub has a network of 13,000 restaurants, 4,500 of which have partnered with the company to enable online food ordering through the site’s unique system.
Having recently raised $11 million in venture capital, GrubHub aims to expand and double its coverage next year to 26 cities served.
Eat24Hours: Like GrubHub, Eat24Hours allows users to search for delivery and takeout restaurants in their area. The site has an offering of 10,000 menus in more than 400 cities, and lets users choose to view restaurants either by cuisine or by city.
SeamlessWeb: So what if it has an odd name, if SeamlessWeb can claim to have over 1 million members. The site has more than 5,000 restaurants for online delivery and takeout in 27 cities, and, like GrubHub and Eat24Hours, features an efficient system that enables users to search restaurants and menus by entering their address. SeamlessWeb also has information on caterers, gift basket purveyors, florists, and other similar local vendors.
Delivery.com: Delivery.com’s network of 10,000 features a range of local delivery businesses: from restaurants to cafes, florists, caterers, and even grocers. These merchants have presence in cities like New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, and Washington.
CityMint: Apart from the ability to order takeout or delivery from the comfort of one’s home or office, CityMint has another unique feature: a mobile food ordering platform that’s available on the iPhone as an app and coming soon to Android-powered devices. With CityMint, you can check into a location (hotel room, exact seat, bar stool, or restaurant table, etc.) and have food delivered straight to where you are. You’re basically ordering from your mobile device. As a way of rewarding your check-ins and orders, CityMint also provides rewards like “un-lockable” discounts and freebies. So far it’s available only in New York and San Fransisco, but that doesn’t stop us from hailing it as the food edition of FourSquare.
Waiters on Wheels: Waiters on Wheels is founded by a restaurant marketing firm servicing clients in the San Francisco Bay Area. Not only has it expanded to include offices in Peninsula, South Bay, Contra Costa, and Alameda; it has also launched a beta version of its website, where users can place orders (there’s a food minimum amount), sign up for a membership, order gift certificates, and even open business accounts (for rewarding your overachieving employees!).
24HourMenu: 24HourMenu accepts takeout and delivery orders – all you have to do is enter your zip code or city name. It also lets users read reviews of featured restaurants, write their own reviews, and get directions to popular dining spots.
Waiter.com: Waiter.com’s 1300-plus restaurants are organized by city or name, but not all of them do both takeout and delivery. (Just check each listing to make sure.) The site also has a customer loyalty program that lets users earn Waiter Points – for each dollar they spend on orders, for each successful referral, and for each successful listing of a referred restaurant. Waiter Points can be exchanged for – guess what? – free food!
OrderLunch: Too swamped with work stuff to leave the office at lunchtime? Try OrderLunch, where they specialize in corporate catering, drop-offs, and business order takeouts. If you sign up for a business account, OrderLunch will also assist you in managing receipts, coming up with weekly statements, and streamlining all accounting and billing processes that have to do with serving food to your employees and clients.
LABite.com: LABite.com focuses on online food delivery in Southern California, serving customers in LA, Orange County, and Palm Springs with mouth-watering dishes from 911 restaurants. There’s a variety of cuisine types and catering options, plus a corporate rewards program where users earn points that can be exchanged for computers, cameras, electronics, video games, and gift certificates.
EatNow.com: Serving six major cities – including Philadelphia, Boston, Hartford, New Haven, Providence, and New York – EatNow.com helps residential and office customers order food online. It is also smart enough to not leave out college students, who may be getting tired of the usual cafeteria food and are looking to spend their money elsewhere. The site features a search function for finding nearby restaurants – as well as a dropdown menu where all you have to do is choose your state and campus, and EatNow.com will find matching restaurants for you.