Attracting customers to a local cafe business is easy, as long as you have great real estate. Before internet, great real estate could only be purchased or rented in the right part of town, which meant it was limited and, therefore, a huge barrier to entry for so many restaurants. Today, of course, the internet has leveled the playing field, providing incredible opportunities for restaurants to attract hungry customers — no matter how many people walk or drive by their location on any given day.
But, of course, in order to have great online real estate, restaurants and cafes need to understand what it means to have an effective website. Complete with professional images and an intelligent layout that makes finding pertinent information easy, the best cafe websites have to be an extension of the environment and ambiance crafted within the four walls of the establishment. Not only should there be personality on each page of the best cafe websites, but that personality also needs to be unique. Anything that feels generic online is going to convey that that is exactly the same experience you’ll have if you make the effort to show up.
With so many restaurant choices available today, generic and run-of-the-mill experiences just don’t cut it.
We looked online this month to find the best examples of cafe websites — and here are the top fifteen for your perusal pleasure.
15 best café websites
Denver Biscuit Company
If you’re going to take the time to go to a cafe these days, especially considering the convenience of services like GrubHub and DoorDash, you want to ensure that the trip is going to be worth it. In other words, you want a real experience. The Denver Biscuit Company, which has locations across the country, gives you just that the moment you land on their website. Greeted by a fast-paced video that shows the creation and consumption of the famous biscuits, the website adds a bold logo, a simple menu, and a “we’ve-been-featured-on-some-major-publications” type of section to let you know just how good they really are. And, in case you don’t pick up on that vibe immediately, the over-the-top, somewhat-messy images of their equally outrageous dishes will do the trick.
Every successful cafe needs an angle. Some go the “you’ll-have-an-awesome-experience” route, others follow the tried-and-true path of “the-food-is-just-that-good”, while others still opt for the “fancier-the-better” credo. Of course, there are other options – and Lilac Patisserie in Santa Barbara, California knows. Owning the “gluten-free” space, their website conveys their freedom from gluten in seconds, alerting customers so that the right ones know they are in the right spot. Beyond their angle, the Lilac Patisserie website is simple, bordering romantic, offering the right amount of frills to hint at the sweet experience that awaits. And, because the cafe and bakery understands that its target audience is definitely a tribe, the website offers a stay-in-touch type of mailing list to further cement the budding romance.
Mr. West Cafe Bar
Advertised as an “ultramodern fixture”, the website for Seattle’s Mr. West Cafe Bar follows through on the promise, offering online visitors a unique experience that would definitely qualify as modern. Relying on bold font and stunning photographs that tempt even the most pretentious of foodies, Mr. West Cafe Bar really is a hipster paradise — both in its physical location and online real estate. The gallery section, which offers a glimpse of the storefront, is everything you would hope an “ultramodern” cafe would be, complete with an airy interior, open shelves filled with succulents, and craft cocktails waiting patiently on the tables. To add to the experience, the cafe ensured that its menu is easy to find and read (and aesthetically beautiful), allowing hungry patrons to pre-plan their brunch strategy with friends.
The definition of simple in terms of website design, Perennial, a cafe out of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, demonstrates that less really is more sometimes. Using a botanical illustration and modern-looking font (complete with plenty of space between each character) to anchor the website’s homepage, Perennial starts to create its digital atmosphere before you ever even know what kind of food they serve. While the website’s menu is simple and user-friendly (putting the actual menu right at a visitor’s fingertips), the photographs featured in a simple scroller really say it all — Perennial is a straightforward, handcrafted, food-first, casual ambiance that’s perfect for impromptu get-togethers and standing weekend brunches.
A great cafe website doesn’t have to be difficult. While some designs truly are spectacular, you don’t have to feel the need to do everything, especially if you’re working with a smaller budget — or simply less time! One of the best parts about Hanamizuki’s website is that it nails the simplicity factor. By leaving a lot of white space, rather than trying to put too much information in one small place, the website feels focused and professional. From the unique font for the logo to the curated selection of only eight photos, the homepage evokes curiosity — without giving too much away. The result? A website that appeals to its audience, provides all of the pertinent information, and comes off feeling just the right amount of aloof — a cafe that knows it’s cool, and has just invited you over for breakfast.
Café No Sé
The majority of the best cafe websites understand the power of a picture, which is why so many of them use several awesome photos in order to convey what really goes on at their establishments — from the food to the table settings. The website for Austin’s Café No Sé is minimal and beautiful thanks to the gorgeous photos that take up eighty percent of the homepage. Focusing on the food and the ambiance, the images tell visitors exactly what to expect, making them eager to sit down and enjoy. And, thanks to the simplified menu contained on the left-side of the homepage, sitting down and enjoying this cafe’s website is just as much fun. Still want more? The social media links in the lower third take you to active accounts that definitely entice you to join their club.
City Place Cafe
Although a lot of the best cafe websites choose to keep their homepages short, City Place Cafe’s website has a slightly longer homepage – and it works. Rather than making the menu the target for clicks, City Place Cafe invites visitors to scroll, enjoying stunning photographs, a concise “about” section, and a full menu that takes all of the guesswork out of figuring out what it is you want to eat exactly. Located in Washington DC, the cafe also has a large map embedded on the homepage, knowing that many of its visitors will either come on foot. The beauty of the website is that it repurposes so much of the content that is already used in the cafe, which means that there is complete consistency between the online and in-house experience — and so much time saved in the website design process, too.
Cloud City Coffee
If you’re wondering if your cafe’s logo really matters, the website for Seattle’s Cloud City Coffee cafe is proof that, yes, it does. While the website is attractive, albeit a bit generic, the logo adds instant personality and character, making visitors feel like they’re somewhere special. Simple and bold enough to stand out, the logo is repeated several times on the website, which makes for great branding. We also love the integrated menu on the homepage, which gives visitors a sneak peek at drinks and food (and prices). The website is organized so that all of the most important information is at the top, with the less important (although still interesting) located at the bottom. This strategy ensures that visitors in a hurry will find what they’re looking for without frustration, while new customers or those with more time will have the opportunity to learn more about the company, laying the seeds for a great relationship (and repeat business).
Hen House Eatery
A totally unique website with loads of personality, the Hen House Eatery knows how to make an impression online. Brightly colored and with funky illustrations, the Hen House Eatery website is organized and concise so that the details are fun — definitely not overwhelming. The cursive freehand font continues the whimsy vibe, but it’s the images on the website that anchor everything, giving visitors something real to sink their teeth into. And, if you take a peek at their About section, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find personal stories — and a great photo of the trio, too.
Little Goat Diner
Think all of the best cafe websites look the same? Little Goat Diner in Chicago is here to prove you wrong. Not only does it completely break the mold when it comes to design and layout (think all black background and somewhat creepy animations), but its unconventional take makes a statement that gets people talking — and that’s a really good thing in the food world. Filled with animation and cartoons, the drawing of the restaurant is interactive, its features clickable so that you literally explore the restaurant as you move through the website. While arguably not as practical as some website designs, the Little Goat Diner understands the importance of being different — and its easy-to-navigate menu at the top of the page ensures no one really gets lost.
An extension of Chip and Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia website, Magnolia Table is a beautiful example of a simple cafe website done right. (No surprise there.). One of the features we love most about the Magnolia Table website (aside from the beautiful design) is the integrated wait-time section, which delivers visitors with a live expected wait time. Not only does this let visitors know what to expect, but it’s also brilliant for the staff at Magnolia Table as they’re bound to receive fewer calls asking about wait time for a table. Unlike many of the cafe websites we see, Magnolia Table’s online real estate chooses to have a FAQ section, as well as a section dedicated to the history of the cafe’s location. For a website relegated to one page, it definitely does a great job at conveying a unique and friendly experience.
Zinc Cafe and Market
Featuring a few different locations around the Newport Beach area in California, the website for Zinc Cafe and Market is a beautiful example of how to pack a lot of content in one very short page. Using block sections to make navigation simple, the website requests that users choose their location first and foremost. But, rather than making visitors select from a narrow list of choices immediately, the website offers three more enticing options: Viewing the blog, shopping, and ordering online. The footer menu provides even more information, ensuring that no one is required to hunt for long before finding just what they need. One of the most unique features on the website, however, is the “Places We Love” section, which lists nearby shops, restaurants, and experiences for visitors to explore. It’s a great way to build community (and goodwill) with other local businesses in the area!
The Corner Table
A small cafe located in Nantucket, The Corner Table’s website actually makes you smile, which is a unique feat in the online world, especially when it comes to cafe websites. Its careful selection of images is one of the main reasons the website presents itself as friendly and inviting, but the obvious commitment to the community is another reason why locals love this establishment. Well organized and with a simple theme, exploring the website for The Corner Table is fun and easy, allowing you to stumble upon sections like featured classes with chefs and the charming story behind the family owners and the cafe’s historic building.
The color scheme on this website is enough to make you want to redesign your own, especially if you felt like the only practical and professional choice was black and white. Filled with colors are bright and natural at the same time, La Jolla’s Parakeet Cafe has a great website worth checking out. Although simple in design, the extra details, like the cafe logo and wallpaper-inspired backgrounds, make it feel special. And, with nearly 14,000 followers on Instagram, the cafe clearly has a loyal following in sunny southern California.
Not sure what to feature on your website’s homepage? Use New York City’s beloved Two Hands cafe as an example and try to put as little as possible! Sound strange? It is. But, it also really works. With just a handwritten-style logo and a menu, the homepage for the Two Hands cafe leaves a whole lot to the imagination, which is exactly what it wants to do. With the first pictures showing up on the About page (and only three at that), the website clearly wants you to spend your time at the establishment — not online. But, if you really want to get curious before you check it out IRL, the small black and white Instagram icon in the lower third will take you to the cafe’s social media home, giving you a more personal peek into the Two Hands world — and the tempting food its kitchen produces.