The list of website builders never stops growing, but more options means it's harder than ever to choose which website builder is best. Here are our favorites for restaurants.
Not too long ago it was possible to own a restaurant and get away without having a website. The pandemic changed all of that and made it clear that it is critical for restaurants to have a website and own their online presence. However, picking a website builder to use for your website is not easy. Sometimes it seems like there are more website builders than restaurants. In addition to helping you create and manage your website, many website builders now offer other features like email newsletter management, analytics, QR code ordering, delivery, and more - so sorting through all of the different options and features can be daunting.
Before we begin, here are a few key questions that you should ask yourself when deciding on a website builder as every business's needs are unique.
- Do you want a website builder designed for restaurants or a generic website builder?
- Do you just want a website or do you want a more comprehensive all-in-one tool?
- Do you want to build your website yourself or do you want an agency to build it for you?
With that in mind, here we go!
1. Restaurant Specific Website Builders (BentoBox, PopMenu)
Best for: Restaurants that are looking for an "all-in-one" solution and are okay with having fewer customization options.
In recent years, website builders designed for restaurants have become increasingly popular because they are specifically designed around all of the unique needs of a restaurant (menu management, delivery integrations, etc). BentoBox was the OG website builder for restaurants, but PopMenu and SpotHopper are two newer companies that are growing quickly. One example of why it is nice to use a website builder designed specifically for restaurants is that when it comes to managing menus across multiple locations, they are built specifically for this, whereas more generic tools will require more work for tasks like updating menus.
If you use Clover (or plan to) for your POS system, you may want to take a closer look at BentoBox because they were acquired by Clover's parent company Fiserv in 2021 and are likely to become more integrated in the future.
With their focus only on restaurants, they can be somewhat limiting if your restaurant is especially unique or you really want to customize your website. The other main disadvantage is cost, they are typically going to be much more expensive with prices starting at around $100/mo vs ~$20/mo for generic website builders.
- Most plans start at around $100/mo, but they can easily be $200/mo or more depending on your plan and add-ons.
2. Simple Website Builders (Squarespace, Wix)
Best for: Restaurants that want more flexibility to customize their website or restaurants that use Tock (owned by Squarespace).
The big advantage of these tools over dedicated solutions like PopMenu and BentoBox is that they are more customizable, but unlike more advanced website builders, you don't need to know anything about coding, hosting, plugins, etc. to get started.
If you use Tock, you should also consider using Squarespace. Squarespace acquired Tock in 2021 and it is likely that they will strengthen the integrations and partnership with them.
Unlike BentoBox and PopMenu, you're going to need to put more work into customizing the website to be more specific to restaurants to get started. Additionally, because they aren't specific to restaurants, they are less likely to have additional add-ons and the add-ons they do have, are often very basic.
Although Squarespace and Wix are more customizable than BentoBox and PopMenu, they are still not as customizable as advanced editors like Wordpress and Webflow.
- Both Squarespace and Wix's pricing starts at around $10/mo, with most mid-tier options being $20-30/mo.
Best for: Restaurants that haven't opened yet or want a very minimal design.
Linktree's name says it all - it's a tree of links. While this approach may seem overly simplistic, we think it is a great way to go, especially if you haven't opened yet or want a very minimal design. After all, when guests go to a restaurant's website they are often looking for the same basic information: menu, hours, location, the ability to make reservations, etc. Linktree makes it dead simple, and affordable, to have an online presence. Their approach is also well designed for the mobile-first world that we live in and it's just as easy to edit on your phone as on a computer so it's easy to make changes on the go.
Linktree's simplicity isn't for everyone. If you want to have a rich, engaging website experience with lots of pictures, Linktree probably isn't the way to go.
- Linktree is the cheapest option with a solid free offering and then mid-tier plans that range from $5-10/mo.
4. Advanced Website Builders (WordPress, Webflow)
Best for: Restaurants that want to fully customize their website.
If you want to have as much flexibility as possible, advanced website builders like WordPress and Webflow are the way to go. WordPress has been the workhorse of most customizable website builders for years, so it is not difficult to find people who are familiar with it.
Webflow is a newer tool, but we greatly prefer it to WordPress. It has the same level of customization, but we think that it is much easier to use and less buggy because Webflow does not rely on installing a bunch of plugins and the hosting is provided through Webflow so you don't have to find a company to host your website (one less login!).
More advanced website builders are just that - advanced. Unless you have prior experience using them or have someone using them for you, the learning curve can be steep. Since there is also less done automatically for you, there is often more of an ongoing maintenance cost with advanced website builders to ensure they are up-to-date - especially with WordPress.
- The pricing for these really varies and often you'll want to buy a template as well to get started. But typically the templates are a one-time fee of around $100 and then $20-30/mo for ongoing fees.
5. Marketing Agency
Best for: Restaurants with the budget for an agency.
If you have the budget for it, using a marketing agency to build out your website and online presence isn't a bad idea. However, many of these solutions are so easy to use and have great templates, that it is really easy to get a basic website up and running with minimal effort.
If you have the budget, outsourcing your website can be great. However, many new solutions make it so easy to pick a template and have a professional website in a matter of hours, that the cost may simply not be worth it. Additionally, by managing your own website you can easily make changes whenever you want and there are no additional fees to do so.
The biggest issue with an agency is cost, it's going to be much cheaper to use a DIY builder. However, if cost is less of a concern then being able to have an agency handle your website can be a great way to go. Additionally, it may take more time to make changes. Lastly, if you go with an agency, you should definitely see who "owns" the website - so that if you decided it isn't a good fit in a few months, you should be able to get access to the website and move on, however some agencies do not allow that.
- The pricing for agencies really varies, but since a person is involved, you're typically going to pay much more than what you would pay for a DIY option - but that can be good! Their is typically a significant upfront cost and then ongoing cost for maintenance and/or changes to the website.
A strong online presence is a critical way for restaurant owners to connect with their customers and regulars. There are five main options:
- Restaurant specific website builders - $100-200/mo
- Simple website builders - $10-30/mo
- Linktree - $0-10/mo
- Advanced website builders - $20-30/mo
- Agency - $$$$ (Hundreds to thousands of dollars/mo)