Constantly on the lookout for winning strategies, processes, and innovations for restaurants and I discovered OpenMenu. Recently, I interviewed Chris Hanscom, Founder and Creator of OpenMenu.
1. Tell our readers why you feel that OpenMenu is beneficial to Independent Restaurants.
What it boils down to is getting a restaurants accurate menu and information in the hands of consumers. OpenMenu provides the standard, the tools and the system to regulate menus. This means restaurants have a complete solution for getting their accurate menus in front of consumers.
Imagine adding specials to your menu in the morning and almost immediately your website is updated, mobile apps have the new specials, menu review websites have the new items to review and your Facebook menu is updated. This is what can be done with a regulated system like the one created by OpenMenu. No more updating a PDF menu, going to every restaurant based solutions and updating your menu there (how many places is this? 5, 10, 15 – probably more as its growing every month). One menu, in one location, driving your menu everywhere.
2. Can you tell us why you developed OpenMenu and what drove you to create it.
It all started with one simple question asked by my wife two and a half years ago; “Where do you want to go eat for your birthday?” The question was simple but the search was not. All I wanted that day was a piece of death-by-chocolate cake. So I started searching for a restaurant, looking at websites, loading menus. Loading menu after menu in formats that where large, clunky and often difficult to search through. PDFs, scanned-in images and Flash based. All things I consider user-unfriendly. There had to be a better way.
I thought about this idea for almost 2 years. I thought about how things should work, how the information should be structured and what the name of this idea should be. I could create a standard for the way restaurants store their menus. Then restaurants could store a version of their menu in the new standard or on their website. Then create a centralized location of all these restaurant menus. One menu, in one location, that could be distributed to every website and application that deals with restaurants and restaurant menus.
3. What is the benefit to the consumer and how are you currently measuring their responsiveness to OpenMenu?
The benefit to the consumer is access to accurate and updated menu/restaurant information. Once you have a restaurants complete information and detailed menu in a format that is standardized the skies the limit on what can be created. From menu item search engines to advanced mobile applications to better social websites and tools, with access to the menu information anything is possible. Long gone will be the days of stumbling across a menu on the internet only to find out its 6 months old and items are no longer being served.
Its hard for OpenMenu to measure responsiveness by the consumer since what we provide is for restaurants and the developers of the tools used by consumers. We work closely with companies who provide consumer based applications. The restaurant industry has responded in a very positive manor to what OpenMenu is doing.
4. How has your recent collaboration with Diningverse enhanced your service?
Diningverse has worked closely with OpenMenu to assist us on tweaking our systems and standard to better meet the needs of companies providing restaurant based solutions. Based on our collaboration the newest version of Diningverse’s powerful online menu creator is fully compliant with the OpenMenu Format and they are working on even more powerful tools to interact with OpenMenu.
Diningverse is one of those companies that champion for the independent restaurant scene and working with them has been a pleasure.
5. What do you see for the future for OpenMenu?
The future is wide open for OpenMenu. We are currently in works with many companies to support the OpenMenu Format and provide tools and applications that interact with OpenMenu Format menus. Over the next year we plan on releasing updates to the OpenMenu Format, releasing a mobile OpenMenu Creator for editing your menus on the go, enhancing our users experience at OpenMenu.com and releasing an API into our database so developers can use our information. Watch us on Facebook and Twitter for updates and news.