When restaurant prices began to appear on the foursquare site last week, it was really just the beginning of something much larger. Beginning today, they’ve incorporated menus for many restaurants directly on the site and will soon be bringing them to the mobile apps. The move propels foursquare to the forefront of the local search space.
A link to the menu now appears in the sidebar of the venue page for many restaurants. The list includes not only large, popular restaurants, but many smaller local restaurants, too; more than 250,000 are already listed. I’m reasonably sure my local Thai place has never heard of the internet, but their menu is right there on the foursquare site.
Foursquare is drawing the data from SinglePlatform, a service that helps restaurant owners publish their menus and prices online. It’s available on the website (desktop or mobile) and in the API right now and will be incorporated into the mobile apps soon.
Showing menus is, of course, a huge benefit to anyone searching for a restaurant and sets foursquare apart from many other local search services. The real benefit will come, though, when foursquare indexes the menu data and lets you search for very specific things right from the Explore interface. By knowing the actual menu items, foursquare doesn’t need to hope that a user has enteredÂ Squid with Hot Pepper as a tip. They know the restaurants that have it and can filter that through the data they’ve gleaned from your and your friends’ checkins to find the best place around for you to get it.
With this integration, Yelp and others like them should be very scared. Foursquare is coming after them by adding feature after feature that make them a real contender in the local search space. The data foursquare has on the places people actually visit is second-to-none and puts them in the lead when it comes to offering targeted recommendations, which is what users are really looking for.