23/01/2007 - 22:00

No holds barred in Hubble's virtual hit

23/01/2007 - 22:00

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It has been about a year since Joel Hubble convinced a friend to part with some hard-earned and back a new online venture focused on providing information on Western Australian restaurants and cafes.

No holds barred in Hubble's virtual hit

It has been about a year since Joel Hubble convinced a friend to part with some hard-earned and back a new online venture focused on providing information on Western Australian restaurants and cafes.

It was a risky move for his friend, a silent investor who made some money selling a Western Australian company. He paid for Joel and a designer to spend six months creating and developing the site, www.eatingwa.com.au, but it’s a move that’s starting to pay dividends.

Mr Hubble says the website is attracting 45,000 hits a month and has more than 2,500 restaurant listings.

Would-be-restaurant goers can search for restaurant by location or cuisine, including everything from African to Vietnamese.

Mr Hubble says making the website free for restaurants is the critical difference between it and other web sites, such as www.theguide.com.au, which has a section devoted to restaurants.

He claims his restaurant guide is now bigger than theguide.com.au, a site sponsored by Network 10.

“Restaurants often have to pay to be on the websites but any restaurant can put as much information as they want on our site,” Mr Hubble says.

Restaurateurs can also comment on a review or contact the reviewer.

But The Guide general manager, Darren Roberts, says the number of hits on a web site can be misleading. He said two thirds of The Guide’s traffic comes from people typing the web address directly into the address bar, because the site’s brand is well known.

The Guide is owned by advertising company Media Today and was established two years ago on the back  of a successful television version.

Mr Roberts says The Guide’s restaurant section continues to grow.

“There are hundreds of websites out there, but what it comes down to is which one gets it right for all the stakeholders,” he says.

“We contact each restaurant each month to update their details so that when people visit the site they get accurate information.”

Mr Hubble says eatingwa will soon begin to offer something similar. Like The Guide, restaurants will be able to pay to have their content managed.

And he says his service will include updated menus and wine lists, and the organising of restaurant reviews.

eatingwa has already attracted the attention of a couple of premiership footballers – West Coast Eagles forward Quinten Lynch and midfielder Michael Braun.

Visitors to the site can read Mr Braun’s latest review of Sorrento Restaurant, which reveals that he is a big fan of red wine and Italian food, and has not been to a Northbridge restaurant for a while.

“We were interested to see how much it [Northbridge] has changed over a number of years,” Mr Braun writes. “We were pleasantly surprised to see there was a festive atmosphere, not only on the streets, but also within Sorrento itself.”

www.eatingwa.com.au is a website that restaurateurs will either love or hate.

There are glowing reviews for people’s favourite and treasured restaurants, but equally there are warnings for would-be diners about poor service, overpriced food and any other bad dining experiences.

A similar online restaurant guide operates in London, www.london-eating.co.uk, which also lets restaurants list for free. The company behind the site, city-eating, has since launched sister sites across Europe, the US and has started up on the east coast with www.sydney-eating.com

Mr Hubble says the London-eating site is too “cluttered” and the eatingwa site would keep its simple format.

He has also launched a website for wine buffs, www.drinkingwa.com.au, which features wine reviews and thoughts on wine from registered members of the site.

While the restaurant guides are proving popular, statistics from website monitor, Hitwise Australia, show the top ranking foodie sites remain those focused on recipes, with taste.com.au and Ninemsn’s recipe finder the most visited internet sites.

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