New Guide to London Dining
By Tom Matthews
Sick of useless, irrelevant restaurant listings that only tell you the address and telephone number at best? Fed up with hunting around the house for a takeaway menu, only to discover a huge pile of out-of-date menus? Search no more, as LaCartes.com has the answer. With over 1,000 eating establishments stored online, this is the largest growing restaurant and takeaway website in South London.
LaCartes.com has the entire Bromley, Epsom, Croydon, Sutton, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham boroughs top to toe, ensuring a detailed and accurate coverage of South London.
The advantage of this website over others is its ease of use and search method by postcode. An emphasis on takeaways (or indeed restaurants) that offer home delivery has been made, so that users can find the menu they require online and make their usual delivery order from the comfort of their own home. Customers can browse restaurants by cuisine, distance from home, average cost per head and much more. Each listing comes with the most recent menu, submitted by the restaurant, and photographs to give a clearer picture.
LaCartes.com wants to promote a positive, mutual relationship between customers and restaurant businesses, so they have come up with a clever system whereby feedback and reviews can be submitted for all to view. Not only do restaurants get a rating, but also customers on the relevance and credibility of their comments.
Regular competitions to win a free evening meal for two at participating restaurants all over South London, have been set up by the website through their strong commitment to restaurant businesses. Entrants can use the normal search criteria of postcode and distance to find a participating restaurant near them, before answering a simple multiple-choice question.
Ding Gao is the brains behind LaCartes.com During his final year in London at university studying Banking & International Finance, he started to draw up the key concepts behind the website. Having spent his school holiday working with two contrasting restaurants, the first of which was suffering due to lack of self-promotion, and the latter who was gaining more success as a result of aggressive distribution of restaurant menus, he realised that promotion and marketing is absolutely critical to a restaurant's success. He also noted that it is too much hassle for potential customers to keep restaurants' leaflets at home and as a result at least 90% of menus posted through letterboxes are thrown away. 'The level of waste and inefficiency in this industry practice is so significant [that] an alternative, highly cost-effective and hassle-free solution was required.' With the help of research, he realised that there were no directories online that consistently provided menus and other useful factors such as photographs and opening times that help us choose where or indeed what to eat. Storing these menus online would equip the general public with an essential resource while also significantly reducing a restaurant's expenses yet enhancing promotion.
Once he had located an I.T company in India to have it developed and it was up and running, he began signing up restaurants at a speedy rate. 'The [restaurants'] feedback is so positive we are definitely going to try the same with other business sectors'.
Tom Matthews also graduated from university in 2006. Having studied Art History and French at University College London, his affinity with writing as a whole encouraged him to write articles in local magazines and for websites to promote restaurant businesses who joined the LaCartes.com community. His aim is to provide the general public with news and developments in the restaurant world; "The huge range and choice of restaurants across South London can be quite overwhelming, so we wanted to create a website that was user-friendly, rich in number and that gave detailed results on each eating establishment. The articles published in newspapers are simply another way of helping people to choose a restaurant that meets their requirements".
The group plans to continue expanding the website's coverage into other sectors, applying the same approach, ideas and principles across the board.
About the Author
Tom Matthews is a guest writer and key contributor of articles on restaurants, fine dining and culinary culture to many local magazines and newspapers in the south London region.
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