Much has been said in the last few weeks about restaurant websites and how they lag behind other industries. To summarize these articles, most of these websites don’t provide customers what they want and many companies are substandard sites. Anyone who knows websites can see that many restaurants have deplorable websites.

A particular pattern  is spreading across the web (especially in New York City), and restaurants don’t know what they are getting themselves into. Restaurants are trading in their websites, their main online marketing platform, to template websites made by Seamless (formerly Seamless web). This is part of Seamless’s plan to take over all of a restaurant’s online marketing, and it seems all their online marketing potential. Here is one such example:

Immediately, you are redirected to a site set up so that you can order easily. Unless your restaurant is like Dominos, this is a terrible idea as you are giving up the possibility of marketing online. Equally problematic is that by using the Seamless template website, you expect them to order without finding anything out about the website.

Additionally, these restaurants have put their brand in the hands of a company that doesn’t consider the restaurants best interests. Of course, all the unique characteristics are the logo. You do not have a slide show of food pictures on the homepage. Lastly, these restaurants have gotten in bed with an ordering company that takes more than 10% of the revenue from orders. OpenTable takes far less for anything but the least expensive restaurants. I don’t know but Seamless may even charge for this formula website.

Boka is definitely a decent restaurant even if they don’t charge exorbitant prices. It deserves a website that gives customers a clue as to what they are getting. This scares away new customers who are the least uncertain. It doesn’t give them any idea of the seating capacity or feel of the place. And believe it or not, Seamless will still take your money if you have a separate website that links to them or not. Good web designers can put a large button that sends them to  order from Seamless.

Seamless hasn’t been good to restaurants in this regard. If they are going to replace restaurant websites with a template, they should at least allow the restaurant to have some personality. Seamless is already draconian in that they don’t allow a widget so that customers can order while they stay on the restaurants website (as OpenTable does). The web is so important for restaurants. So it’s your restaurant, not Seamless’s; it is time to show it with your own website.  Yes, of course, Gourmet Marketing designs websites, but a restaurant has numerous resources to create a successful website.

Two good articles came out, one in Slate and the other on that are worth checking out so you don’t get taken advantage of by web designers. Good luck with a website that makes your restaurant look as good as it tastes!