MENU PULSE • Re-Inventing the Dining Experience

Andrew Lay Serves Up an Innovative Restaurant Social Media & Menu Service

Posted In: Culture, , News, ,   From Issue 860   By: Robert E Martin

10th April, 2018     0

A dynamic and innovative new national restaurant social network and menu service has arrived and is targeting the Great Lakes Bay as its initial test market, designed with an appetite to inspire diners throughout the region to ‘find their inner foodie’.

Known as Menu Pulse, this incredibly fluid and dynamic new social media site creates a platform for the visual & pictorial representation of over 500,000 restaurants, coupled with a searchable data base of over 150,000 menus that will enable users of the site to satiate their palate for all varieties and styles of dining, while also registering opinions by writing their own reviews, sharing photos, and voting on their favorite dishes and dining establishments.

Each food item from a restaurant is independently classified, so a user can search by either a specific restaurant type such as Chinese or Italian, or by a specific food item; if one types in ‘chicken taco’ every piece of data and results from all the restaurants will display within a 30-mile or 10-mile radius, or whatever the user sets for his search radius, and users can choose various filters for top user-rated restaurants, for plates with pictures, or by price.

The concept for the new site was conceived by CEO Andrew Lay, who currently resides in Saginaw. The architecture that Lay developed for the platform to Menu Pulse allows visitors to share photos of their meals, comment upon what they enjoyed about their dining experience; as well as rating their overall experience, or specific menu item at each featured restaurant.

When asked about the impetus behind this idea for assembling such a unique and innovative culinary website, Andrew quickly points to the obvious fact that, “Everybody loves to eat.” 

“Essentially, I identified a widespread cultural phenomenon of food selfies and lack of a specific home for them as a missing market segment,” he continues. “I was already experienced in restaurant and menu directories through an earlier site that I developed several years ago called To Dine For.  I started looking at the statistics and google rankings and noticed we were destroying the national competition and saw that search engines liked the way our data was presented better. By bringing onboard this knowledge and experience of search engine optimization excellence and adding in these new dynamic features that Menu Pulse offers, we could improve and service that missing market segment even better.”

Because Menu Pulse is more than simply an online menu site like his previous To Dine For endeavor, there are many factors that distinguish it from other menu sites populating the internet. “We have focused on becoming this new home of the food selfie, and in the process assembling the largest searchable menu database available.” notes Andrew.

This task is a bit daunting with over a half of a million restaurants in the country, but his persistence is aimed at the data itself instead of pictures of menus.  "It's an ongoing process," Lay says, "we scan the internet daily to bring you the most menu choices in America," noting the searchable data menus are now exceeding some of the largest sites available and at this time the site has already exceeded 15 million pages!

"There’s a lot of information and menu data out there for restaurants, and that data is constantly changing,” Andrew explains. “Many restaurants change their menus seasonally, so we incorporated a wiki system into our site where people can flag and correct bad data if the restaurant themselves have not taken over their profile. From there it evolved into offering a social media site for everything else involved with the dining experience. Since people love to take pictures of their food, we are attempting to channel them to also write review and rate it; plus, we’ve added functions to make Menu Pulse more interactive with other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook for both the restaurant and the foodie.”

“With most social media sites the home feed will only show a user the content creators that they follow, however Menu Pulse organizes its feed based on one’s city or location,” continues Andrew. “With that being said, you can see other users that you like along with their restaurant reviews and photos and follow them, no matter what city you are in. If you take a trip to San Francisco, for example, whatever the user that you follow happens to eat there will pop up in your news feed as well across cities. Additionally, the top reviewers and photographers from each city will also be featured on the home pages of the various cities, so people can key in on finding the best content.”

Featuring the largest searchable menu database available in the country, Menu Pulse is being released both as a website along with Droid and iOS applications and presents singular and unique marketing opportunities for restaurants, including short, company hosted video webisodes that will profile and showcase various ‘local’ restaurants.

Menu Pulse is totally free for the user,” explains Andrew, “and while we do plan on having advertisers on the site, it doesn’t cost the user unless they want an ad-free experience. The more reviews and input a user makes by adding content to the site also allows them to build ‘foodie’ points that allow them to earn rewards; and one of the rewards is an ‘ad-free’ experience, which will automatically happen when hit a certain number of foodie points.”

“Customer feedback is the breakfast of champions for restaurants,” reflects Andrew, “and its free for the restaurant to take over their profile because they can correct any errors and also syndicate it to their facebook page or website. When it’s time to change their menu, it can auto-change it on other websites and provide photos right along with everything in their menu immediately.”

While Menu Pulse is available nationwide, beta-testing for this dynamic new site is being targeted in the Great Lakes Bay Region, focused upon the goal of providing a fresh platform for restaurants to syndicate their menu to their website and social media accounts.

“We have a staged expansion for the rollout of the site and are prepared for bursts in traffic,” notes Andrew. “We’ve spent extensive time on technical development and are trying to get more users right now by presenting special offers to early users. In addition to giveaways we will be offering, we will also be giving out a lot of gift certificates starting January 2019.  There are runner-up prizes, but the grand prize will be $1,000 in gift cards for restaurants in the Great Lakes Bay region."

"All you have to do to enter the prize is post a food review with a picture from a restaurant within Michigan on Menu Pulse. Every time you do this, will give you an additional chance to win.  And no need to wait until 2019 to win free food; if you follow us on other social media, we are already lining up a lot of restaurant gift cards and vouchers to give away throughout 2018."

"While we intend to launch a Premium Package Service to restaurants utilizing the site, right now we are only offering a free package. Even our free package will be of high value to restaurant marketing, yet we are still aiming to release this modestly priced Premium service packed with even more value while being affordable for everyone, from the smallest independent restaurant to the biggest national chains to create an even playing field. We want to make sure we get things correct before offering premium services for more visibility, along with other important features.”

“All the various plates that a restaurant offers carry user plate-ratings, which are averaged together to establish their overall ranking,” explains Andrew. “This is useful for the restaurant, as they can identify what items are above and below their mean average and work to bring them up.”

“Restaurants interested in obtaining more information on our services should take over their profile and we will be in touch with them regarding more details of our services.”

Restaurants in the Great Lakes Bay Region that would like to be featured in an upcoming video episode should inquire at marketing@menupulse.com

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