As the Wordpress platform continues to mature, more and more industries are turning to Wordpress as their go-to CMS. One such industry is the food service and restaurant industry. For a while now it has been relatively easy to create a good looking website for your restaurant using Wordpress but until recently there have been some notable gaps in what the average visitor to a restaurant website wants and what Wordpress could offer. Namely, the ability to host or embed menus, take reservations, and order food online.
If you think about it - who would ever expect that sort of capability out a blogging platform in the first place? I for one know that it's not on the top of my list when deciding where to start my next blog. But that just goes to show how powerful, versatile, and all-encompassing Wordpress has become. It's obviously no longer just a blogging platform you can hack to look differently. It really is an elegant business solution for just about any kind of company whether they are strictly online or a more traditional brick and mortar establishment. And due in large part to Wordpress plugins like the ones I've listed below, that statement is all the more true for restaurants in 2012.
1. Easy Restaurant Menu Manager
Tired of using PDFs to post your restaurant's menus online? Easy Restaurant Menu Manager makes it simple to add and update all your dishes in a way that's easy for your site's visitors to read and easy for you to maintain. You can add categories like appetizers, entrees or desserts -- name them whatever you want -- and set the order those categories should display in. Include a description for each item, and decide whether or not you want to display the price. Want to tweak the display? Add CSS right from the plugin, without fiddling with theme files. This plugin isn't just for restaurants. Spas, service stations and others can use it to share their menu of services.
2. Zuppler Online Ordering Plugin
Zuppler Online Ordering Plugin lets customers order food online directly from a restaurant's website, for takeout, delivery, dine-in and catering. Zuppler's state of the art online ordering technology can be customized to match the brand, look and feel of the restaurant website. Customers stay on the restaurant website during the entire online ordering process.
The OpenMenu Plugin is the official plugin for OpenMenu and adding restaurant menus to any WordPress website. This plugin allows you to easily create posts that are based on your OpenMenu and thus embedding restaurant menus in any WordPress website. This plugin fully integrates an OpenMenu or OpenMenus into an existing theme. Widget / Menu ready themes work best.
4. BookingBug Booking Calendar Widget
BookingBug is a highly flexible and customizable booking system for use by any business. It is designed to help you get new customers by letting you get your time and availability on to your own and as many sites as possible. Hosted on BookingBug, you can embed it in your wordpress blog quickly and easily, as well as embedding in Facebook or other sites you may need. You can even embed it multiple times in different pages in your site if you need.
5. Yelp Bar
Yelp has become indispensable for anyone that owns a business (regardless if you have a website or not). The Yelp Bar is a very easy & non-intrusive plug-in that shows the Yelp Ratings & Reviews for your business at the top of the page (same as HelloBar, doesn't stick). It provides your business with credibility, as visitors are quickly reassured through the rating & reviews provided by other users.
Each of these plugins offers a unique set of benefits. After reviewing the features and playing around with their capabilities, I would say that the Zuppler Online Ordering Plugin is probably the most powerful and all encompassing solution for restaurants on Wordpress right now. Not only do they provide great menu options that match the existing design of your website, but they have a monumental list of features that just cannot be matched by the competition. Not to mention that they are one of only two plugins on this list that offer the capability of a generating a whole new revenue stream via orders.
But what do you think - agree or disagree? Have you had a chance to try any of these plugins yourself? Do you have a favorite that I missed? Please let us know in the comments below.