Hmm, If Only I Could See the Menu

How many times have you turned on your computer to pick a place for dinner and found the site has no menu?

Ali Starkley has a solution. He has started the Web site Let's See The Menu.

It’s not about ambiance or who has five stars. It offers just what it says – menus.

“I’m a pretty simple guy. I just wanted the menu, mostly,” he said.

Starkley came up with the idea a few years ago when he was running a small technology company in Gales Ferry called CC Technologies. He was surrounded by computer programmers who were skilled in writing code. Through them, he learned about a techy way to deliver exactly what he wanted –- lists of restaurants and the ability to display menus.

“It was my way of getting a college education without having to pay for it,” Starkley said.

He’d had a few ideas that he didn't think would sell -- like garage sales. But he had a Eureka! moment when he decided on menus.   

Lots of restaurants have Web sites but the people who own them aren't Web people and many cannot maintain the sites, Starkley said. So he takes on the piece that gets people in the door –- menus of mouth-watering entrees.

A few months ago, Starkley starting approaching restaurants around his Groton community.

“I was hoping to build a following by doing that,” Starkley said.

He asks for permission to photograph the outside of the restaurant and puts together a demonstration of what Let’s See the Menu can do for them. The sales pitch is simple: “I’ll save you some money by advertising a single place for people to find menus,” he said.

For the site user, it’s one place to go and find menus easily. Restaurants are separated by town and type of cuisine. Want Thai?  Click that. Want to eat in Stonington? Pick that. Want to know what’s on the menu of La Casa in Waterford? Click on the link and it takes you right to the menu.

While Starkley’s focused locally right now, his overall goal is to expand. 

“I would like to go national,” he said. “I want to work out the kinks in my local area.”

Starkley is doing this on is own now but he’s looking for programmers and sales staff. The applications are already starting to come in.

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