About ten years ago I had the idea to create a massive menu site. I wanted to include everything from fine dining restaurants to ordinary sub and pizza joints. Users could upload menus and owners could claim their business/page to somewhat control it. I felt this would replace all those paper take out menus you keep in your kitchen drawer.

A decade ago a lot of these smaller Mom and Pop type shops weren’t online yet, so I thought that menu centralization would be great. This has changed quite a bit and you can now find almost every restaurant represented online to some degree. That doesn’t mean the menus are always accurate and up to date though.

The inspiration behind this idea came from my childhood. I was remembering the summer that my aunt drove my cousin and I around so we could collect as many different match books from restaurants, hotels, and anywhere else that had their own. Back then it seems like everyplace had their own match books. Not so much anymore since smokers are oft considered pariah these days.

As I was recalling that summer, I remember us running into each place to ask for matchbooks, and I also recall them always being near the menus. That’s what got the idea rolling.

I don’t think this would be worth it as a stand alone idea in the present, but if you combined it with another idea, it would be fantastic. My first thought was to couple it with a review site, so I just did a search and realized I’m writing this post three years too late. I guess Yelp already has a menu field/section.

Well, this just went from a novel idea to competing with a well established review behemoth. Just remember that things can always be done better, even if it’s competing with a giant.

Yelp seems to have quite the stranglehold on restaurant reviews these days. I do like reading reviews on Yelp, but I hate using it for writing them. I stopped contributing because they were rewarding reviews with visibility to those users who reviewed the most (at least, that’s what they said), and that drove me nuts.

I write a review for a place and because I don’t come back for a month, my review becomes hidden? What the hell is that all about? Not only is that unfair, but that kind of policy is a breeding ground for suspicion when you’re talking about reputation. Is is really based on participation, or can companies get things removed?

This is why I’d always prefer to own the machine instead of being a cog in it. Do I want to manage a profile on Facebook, or run my own social network? My own please! Do you want to write reviews and post menus on Yelp, or make the rules on your own site? It’s always the latter for me! I’d rather launch and fail at building something of my own than dedicate my spare time to building something someone else owns. I already have a job that makes someone else rich. I don’t want to do that with my spare time too.

Among the many other reasons why I lose interest in an idea, the main culprit for this one was the name. I love spending time searching for domains and coming up with one I’m happy with, but it never happened for this one. I really felt like I settled.

I chose the name MenuViews.com. I guess I liked it for a fleeting moment enough to buy it, but I think I let it go within a year or two. I could never imagine building a brand out of that name. MenuViews. The more I say it, the more bland it sounds.

Whenever I write up these posts about ideas I’ve had in which I’ve let the domain go, I ALWAYS go check it out to see if anyone has made anything out of it. MenuViews.com is currently for sale as a premium domain for $2195. That is hilarious.

The bulk of my domain purchases I keep. I almost never let domains go to expiration, but this one was just too weak and uninteresting of a name, so it didn’t make the cut. It wasn’t worth $10 to me, but clearly someone else think it’s worth thousands.

I doubt this one will ever sell for that, but I wish the current owner best of luck trying.

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