Restaurant Engine is a new hosted service (running on WordPress) that provides everything needed for a restaurant to get their site up and running in no time. I don’t usually write news posts about things like this, but as I had the privilege of working with Brian Casel on many aspects of the project, it has a bit of a special place in my heart, and I’d like to share some of it with you all.
First of all, let’s let Brian tell us a little bit about Restaurant Engine.
1. In short, what is the goal of Restaurant Engine?
Our goal is to offer a quality restaurant website design in an easy, turnkey solution. Through collaborating with some of our industry’s best designers and developers, our goal is give restaurant owners high-end web design at a price and package that makes sense for their business.
2. Do you feel Restaurant Engine is more geared towards individual restaurant owners, or those individuals / companies with restaurant clients?
Both actually. It’s simple enough for a non-tech savvy restaurant owner to sign up and create their restaurant website. But we’ve also designed it as a fully white label system, which anyone can resell to their restaurant clients. We have special partner rates for those interested in using Restaurant Engine for their clients.
3. Restaurant Engine runs on WordPress; is this something that you advertise as a feature of the system?
We make it clear it’s built on WordPress. If you’re already familiar with WordPress, then you’ll already feel comfortable with our system. But we realize not everyone knows what WordPress is, so we try to focus on communicating the benefits as they relate to restaurant website owners.
4. How much time has this project been in development and / or planning?
It’s been about 8 months. I was kicking around the idea for a hosted service built on WordPress for a long time before that, but for one reason or another didn’t pursue it right away. Probably because of the enormous scope involved in putting something like this together. I’m glad we made it happen though 🙂
My Role in the Project
I’ve worked with Brian on several different projects, primarily custom WordPress themes, and I have also brought him in several times to help provide feedback and bug testing on plugins during development. Most recently, Brian has been helping me work out some of the features for Easy Digital Downloads.
Brian first asked me about possibly helping with Restaurant Engine after seeing the work I had done on Restrict Content Pro, primarily because of the integration the plugin had with Stripe.com, which Brian was hoping to use. After talking for a while, we decided that Restrict Content Pro did not have the necessary tools he needed to run his hosted service, but he did decide to bring me on to work on the project for custom development.
What we came up with was really cool, and definitely the base line for many future projects. We built a subscription system powered by Stripe that allows users to register for an account, have a free trial, use discount coupons, and have a brand new site automatically created for them in just seconds. The entire system runs on WordPress multisite, which was crucial to the project.
I had already done quite a lot of work with the Stripe API, so building a registration system that allowed users to signup for a site, receive a free trial, and then automatically transition into a paying customer, was really not that difficult, but it was a bit tricky working out all of the logic and page flow.
One of the things we wanted the service to have is extreme ease of use by customers. Most aspects of the websites customer’s get when they signup are powered by custom post types and taxonomies. This was another part of the site that was a lot of fun for me because the custom content types were created through Easy Content Types initially, and then exported out so their code could be dumped into each of the individual themes available to the customers. This worked really well because it allowed Brian to make small changes to content types and meta boxes very easily, without having to dig in the large code base.
Currently Restaurant Engine has three beautifully designed templates to choose from when signing up, and many more will be coming over the coming months / years. Every theme is fully responsive and ready for mobile devices.
There will be lots of continue improvements and features additions made to the system, but as it stands right now, it is one really awesome hosted service, running entirely on WordPress. The user experience one has when first visiting their brand new site dashboard is phenomenal as well, thanks to Brian’s great work.
Check out some screenshots of the site dashboards below.