Locu Review: Is It Good or Bad For Restaurants?

Locu helps restaurants organize, design, and sync their menus across multiple platforms, including a restaurant’s website. It did a better job with this than SinglePlatform, a similar service, and has kept its promise by having the web application work seamlessly and without problems. The most important part is that their user interface is great and extremely user friendly. It is hard not to love Locu. Here is an introduction video by Locu:

Benefits

  1. Time Management
    For restaurant owners, one of the biggest challenges is updating all their menus in different platforms – including their websites. They want to be able to update their menu right away and don’t want to wait for their webmaster to update their menu on their website. They don’t have the time or energy to deal with multiple platforms for menu updates. Locu fixes one of restaurant owners’ biggest problems, making their lives easier. When you put your menu on Locu, it is distributed to the restaurant’s website, Citysearch, OpenTable, Tripadvisor and Facebook profiles with just one click. Nice right? The service saves a lot of time, and you don’t have to worry about whether your updates went through. Locu wins restaurant owners’ hearts and even webmasters love the idea, as menu updates are one of the most time-consuming jobs in website updates. It takes time, and it is easy to make a mistake, especially if you do not work in the restaurant.

    In addition, you can send your menu to Locu, and they will update it for you in 48 hours.

  2. Correct Information
    As above I mentioned, when you use Locu, you are 100% sure that your menu is correct on those platforms. The syncing is fast, and works perfectly. We haven’t heard any complaints from our customers.
  3. Design
    At Gourmet Marketing, we really like their menu designs. They are simple, nice, and easy to read, exactly what customer’s want. They currently have more than 10 menu designs for restaurant owners to choose from There are a few designs you can only use with the premium version. Most restaurant owners realize that their menus aren’t perfect, both on the web (pdf files or Word document) and in their restaurant (print out menus). For owners without attractive online menus, Locu is a major improvement. After you pick a design and put your menu on Locu, you can also print it out and use it in your restaurant. That is a smart move.

    If you like, you can even add pictures for each menu item. However, for restaurants that care about their branding & marketing, using Locu’s menus might be a bad idea. We’ll talk about that later.

  4. User Friendly
    We believe this is one of the strongest parts of Locu. Their user interface is really easy, very user friendly. You just log in and add your menus. Simple.
  5. Security
    Don’t worry. Nobody can create an account without verification or publish your restaurant menus without your approval. To be able to publish any menu, you need to verify your business by a phone call or email. Email verification has to come from your domain address. That means you can’t verify your restaurant with a Hotmail address.

Drawbacks

  1. SEO
    We are in an era that content is the most important thing for search engines. For restaurant websites, it is fundamental to success. Therefore, menus should be inside the HTML code on your website.

    HTML menu pages are essential, because they show that you are a restaurant to Google and serve a particular cuisine. With an HTML menu, the restaurant has a better chance of showing up in different keyword combinations. We believe HTML menus are the one of most important parts of restaurant SEO. If you use Locu on your website, you lose that power. Locu gives you JavaScript code to put on your website. It works very well from a customer perspective but in the eyes of a search engine it is just a JavaScript code, not a menu. So you lose that content. Also, a small minority of people block Javascript for security reasons and will not be able to see a Locu menu.

    After consulting with Locu and independent SEO experts, we know Google can crawl Locu’s content. However, since Locu menus are in Javascript from an external file on a 3rd party website, we are not sure how effective it is on improving a website’s performance in search engines. But Locu cannot be as good as basic HTML.

    Moreover, when you have multiple menus, Locu shows it in one page. This means that if you have brunch, dinner, lunch, and wine list menus they’ll all show up in one page. If you use Locu, you’ll lose all those separate pages. HTML menus do the best in Google and substantially help a restaurant’s website.

    We’ll use our client Agozar Cuban Bistro as an example to illustrate this point. When you Google “best mojitos nyc,” their mojito menu page shows up on the first page in 4th spot of the organic search results. This gets even better if you Google “cuban lunch” as Agozar is right now the #1 spot in the search results with their HTML lunch menu. If you Google “chocolate martinis nyc”, you’ll see another one of our clients, Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar, show up in 3rd place on Google with their martinis HTML page. One last example is if you Google “brunch williamsburg brooklyn”, Lokal Bistro’s Brunch HTML menu shows up on the first page.

    The above examples are targeted, minimally optimized html menu pages. They are why these restaurants show up in many search results, more than just for their name, more than just for a few keywords. Even you don’t optimize your pages, they still have a chance to show up in the search results, or support your home page to get higher rankings.

  2. Marketing & Branding
    Using Locu means you’ll have menu pages on all those platforms I mentioned before. It is great but there is one problem. Why do restaurants have websites? What is the purpose of the website? If restaurants don’t bring the customers to their website, how are they going to sell their brand? If 3rd parties have your menus, it would be more beneficial for you to link it to your restaurant website and convince those potential customers using your business branding.

    When a customer is on a 3rd party website checking out reviews, you should want them to come to your website to see what kind of feeling your restaurant is offering. By visiting a website, the customers commit somewhat to giving your restaurant their full attention. Unlike websites such as OpenTable, Citysearch and Tripadvisor that offer the same profile to every restaurant, your websites encourages customers to check your gallery, virtual tour, menus, and promotions to give them a reason to visit the restaurant. A restaurant’s website differentiates it from its competitors.

    If a restaurant keeps Locu on OpenTable or other platforms, it kills the reason a customer would have to visit that restaurant’s website to look at the menu. Instead, the customer will probably stay in the profile page and won’t even check the restaurant website. The restaurant website is where you convince people to try your restaurant. Your website is your restaurant’s home base. Restaurant websites are like a customer peeking their head into the restaurant to make a decision rather than making their choice from the street where they can see all the different competitors and their menus, reviews, etc.

    Let’s not forget social media. We have to encourage customers to visit the website, because in addition to showing them a reason to visit us, they might share our information on Facebook, Google and Twitter. Check out the Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar website, we have put social share buttons on every page. If you look at their special offers page, you’ll see the power of social shares. Google has also mentioned that every share now counts for SEO and thus, for higher rankings on Google. To be able get more shares, we need traffic to our website.

    If you use menu templates in your website, you might actually be using the same design as your competitor. If branding is important to you, you will want to have a custom design for your menu.

Final Thoughts

Locu is helpful to some restaurants while it may be a liability for other restaurants. It will make things easier, but the question is if it makes things better.

We don’t recommend you use Locu if your online marketing and branding is important to your restaurant, you get a good amount of traffic to your website, and your menus are already in HTML.

If you have a small restaurant, and you don’t focus on online marketing and you didn’t invest in your website, Locu is great tool for you. You’ll save time and money. But you have to decide how much investment you have put into your online marketing strategy (such as your website) to see if you should sign up for Locu.

If you are using .pdf files, doc. files (Microsoft Office) or Flash for your menus, Locu is a big improvement.