Restaurant Website Nightmares

After watching an episode of Kitchen Nightmares (sadly the US version, the UK version is better), I decided it might be time to try and get some takeout from one of the many local restaurants in my area.

Unfortunately, I am a bit of an "introvert," and therefore don't know anyone in my area and know next to no restaurants. So to Google Maps it is to look at local pizza places.

That finds me today's entry for "Restaurant Website Nightmares," Jimmy's Pizzeria.

It's hosted by Yellow Book USA. I have a feeling this means that a lot of the general complaints I have about restaurant websites don't apply, so let's start with the things it does right.

Prominent phone number: good. Link to a map of how to get there: good. Hours of business clearly listed on the front page: very good. (Why is that so hard for places to do?!) Methods of payment: also very good.

I'm guessing these are things Yellow Book does as a standard template. These are all very good things. Every restaurant website should have them. In fact, let's make a quick checklist here for future entries:

  1. Locations are easily found on the front page
  2. Phone number is easily found on the front page
  3. Hours of operation are easily found on the front page
  4. Methods of payment are easily located
  5. Menu is easily located on the front page
  6. Menu is easily readable:
    1. Preferably in HTML, but otherwise accessible by most browsers (e.g., PNG, JPEG, or GIF image).
    2. If a PDF, the PDF contains the text and isn't just a PDF containing a giant image.
    3. If it is a giant image, the giant image contains readable text.

Guess where this is going.

That's right, Jimmy's menu is a PDF containing a giant image!

Jimmy's Pizzeria menu: a PDF containing a scan of their physical, take-out menu.

Oh, look, it's literally a scan of their take out menu. You can even see the crease in the paper where it was folded.

OK, so their dinners are kind of hard to read. So let's zoom in a bit to make that more legible, shall we?

Zooming in a bit on the previous section.

Oh. We already were zoomed in 100%, so blowing it up just made it more blurry.

So, here's the takeaway here: when posting your menu online, it should use HTML. This makes it searchable, meaning that Google might find things like "gyro plate" on the website and turn up the restaurant if someone searches for "gyros near me" on Google Maps. If it's hidden away in an image in a PDF, Google isn't going to see it.

Secondly, even if you don't care about Google being able to search it, making it text allows your users – that is, your customers – to search the menu using their browser. Who knows, they might be looking for something like a Hawaiian pizza. Does Jimmy's offer a Hawaiian pizza? Or something like it? (Ham and pineapple, for those who don't know.) Well, I haven't posted that part of the menu, so:

Zooming in a bit.

I'll just hit Ctrl-F and search for ... oh, right, image. I can't do that. So I'll have to carefully decode it and see if one of those black blobs with green blobs under them is a Hawaiian.

Um... Nope. I didn't see it. But let's look through the toppings. Let's see, they have... um... tasteless, poppers, Orions... uh... (I honestly can't figure out what that first topping is. The rest I can figure out by assuming they're things you put on a pizza.)

Remember, that image is zoomed in as far as it'll go.

Oh, look, I spent so long complaining about their menu, that they've just closed. So now I guess I'll have to get my dinner from some place else. I think I'll try one of the places that has a menu that you can freaking read.

(Bonus challenge: What are the toppings on a Grande Canadian?)



The first topping is "Tomatoes" which I presume is sliced tomatoes all over a perfectly good pizza (ew). The Grande Canadian is Bacon, Onion (just one), Tomatoes, and Oliver. Poor Oliver.

I've had people bring me their beat up take-out menu and they want it to magically look like new, of course, so I ask "Do you have your original file that you gave to the printers?" Well, of course they have no idea what I'm talking about, so I say "Do you have a PDF of this?" and they go "Yes yes I do!" So I get handed a PDF with two high-compression JPEGs of a 200dpi scan of the exact same takeout menu they just handed me. Sigh.