If you’re considering using iMenuPro, there are a several things you certainly understand:
Great menu design is important for a successful restaurant or bar.
A restaurant menu maker can help save time and money.
A really good menu design can help to increase sales.
But with so many online menu makers out there, which one is right for your business?
For many restaurants and bars, iMenuPro is a great solution for solving these problems. (And you can believe us—since we’re officially competitors.)
But iMenuPro isn't the best fit for all restaurants and bars. That's especially the case for bars and restaurants with a rotational beverage program, for whom a service like BeerMenus is likely a better solution.
Use this article as a guide to determine whether iMenuPro is the right menu maker for your restaurant or bar.
iMenuPro and BeerMenus both provide single click professional menu templates with different, unique menu styles, the ability to save custom menu items that rotate on and off your restaurant or bar menu, and live-sync website menus and Facebook page menus.
However, there are significant differences between the two services, so while iMenuPro may be perfect for one business, BeerMenus may be perfect for another.
Here’s a quick summary of who should use iMenuPro and who should use BeerMenus.
Choose BeerMenus if you want, require, or value:
Auto-populating beer, wine, and spirit descriptions and info for your printable menu
A custom design for your print menu, TV menu, or website menu
The fastest drink menu updating experience
A live updating TV menu with custom specials or ad slides
Facebook and Twitter integrations to automatically post about menu updates
With BeerMenus, you can immediately create an account and start a full featured 14-day trial without providing a credit card or phone number.
“Full featured” means you can edit, update and print out your paper menu or edit, update, and view your TV/digital menu as soon as you add your menu items to your menu. In other words, you can fully test the product and feel your menu in your hand before having to pay.
On the other hand, with imenupro.com (owned by parent company SoftCafe), you can add your menu items and preview certain menu templates without creating an account, but you can’t actually print out a menu until you signup and pay.
During your 14-day BeerMenus trial, you can contact BeerMenus support via chat, email, or phone to get questions answered or help getting set up.
Because it has an in-house staff of designers, BeerMenus provides full design customization for print, TV, and/or website menus during your trial for no fee.
If you don’t upgrade by the end of the 14-day trial, you’re downgraded to the BeerMenus free plan.
On the free plan, you can view and edit your menu on your BeerMenus page, but you lose access to Pro features (Print Menus, TV menus, marketing tools).
Ease and speed of updating your menu
On BeerMenus, there’s one form where you can add/edit all your menu items, and you can instantly search for any item you’ve ever added to your menu. This means you can make last-minute menu changes in 5-10 seconds.
When you select an item from the BeerMenus database—which includes beer, wine, spirits, and your custom items you’ve added in the past—an editable item description immediately loads.
The BeerMenus database allows you to have your cake and eat it too: you’re able to pull in item descriptions automatically (without Googling), but you’re not limited to the database description because it’s always editable.
With iMenuPro, there’s one form to add/edit menu items, which is helpful, but there’s no way to search your existing custom items while in the process of adding a menu item. You have to either pause the process of adding the item and manually search through your existing items or just say “the heck with it” and add it as a brand new item all over again.
When you're just reading about it this doesn’t feel like a huge pain in the butt, but if you’re updating your menu once a week or more, the time waste begins to quickly add up.
Even more time consuming, when adding beer, wine, or spirits to an iMenuPro menu, you have to find descriptions and information (e.g. where it was produced) for those items somewhere else (like Google) and then copy and paste them into iMenuPro. That typically takes a couple minutes per menu item.
So, instead of taking advantage of the BeerMenus database and adding a beer, wine, or spirit to your menu in less than 10 seconds, you’re spending minutes to add a single beer, wine, or spirit to your menu. That can add up to a significant time suck over the course of a week, a month, and, especially, a year.
Invite and manage coworker access
With BeerMenus, you can easily invite coworkers to help you update, maintain, and print your menu. As the owner of the page, you’re also able to control what coworkers can access, and remove access when necessary.
iMenuPro is a single user system. Here’s more info from their help docs:
“If you want someone else to be able to view or edit your menus, copy your account URL once you're logged in and send that URL link to them. That way they'll be able to work with your account but won't need your password.”
This suggests there’s a publicly accessible URL that can be used to edit your menus. It’s unclear if you can change that account URL if you want to remove access from someone to whom you sent that URL.
The help doc continues:
“If it's not possible to coordinate with other co-workers, or you work for a large organization such as a food service company where others might easily edit or delete your data, you should consider signing up for a separate account to ensure no one else has access to your data.”
This still doesn’t address the issue of granting and removing access as coworkers join and leave your business.
Moreover, it suggests the best solution for the situation is paying for another iMenuPro subscription. For a small business every expense counts, and though an additional $15-$30 a month isn’t huge, it still matters.
But we don’t have to tell you that.
Custom Menu Items
BeerMenus and iMenuPro both enable maintaining a database of custom items specific to your business. However, BeerMenus enables unlimited custom items on all plans (including the free plan) and iMenuPro has limits on the number of custom items you can have.
Here’s more info from their help docs regarding their $30/month premium plan:
“If you have a super large database of over 5000 items, or have over 180 images or 1000 menus, you'll benefit from extra storage. You'll be able to store them all in one account, saving you the cost of and maintenance of multiple accounts.”
Beer, wine, and spirits databases
Only BeerMenus provides access to beer, wine, and spirits databases with descriptions, style, ABV, brewery/winery/distillery info and additional info. When you select a beer, wine, or spirit to add to your menu, the description and other info are automatically included. No copying and pasting necessary.
Both services offer multiple professional looking menu templates to choose from and the ability to upload your own logo or other graphics. Additionally, both services enable you to customize your design without needing to work with graphic designers or have design skills.
One differentiating factor for iMenuPro is that it offers thousands of different templates for businesses to choose from.
But even with thousands of templates, it’s often difficult to find the perfect menu. And sometimes it’s difficult to find the perfect menu because of the thousands of choices.
Custom menu design
Only BeerMenus offers to create a custom menu design for every business they work with. Even better, BeerMenus has a team of professional designers on staff who will work with you to create your customized menu at no cost to you.
You can have precisely the restaurant menu design or bar menu design you need, at no additional cost to you.
Digital / TV Menus
Only BeerMenus offers a live updating TV Menu/digital menu board. Using a mini computer that plugs into the TV (~$110), you can update your menu items, specials, and advertisement slides from any device (computer, tablet, phone, etc.) and those changes will immediately reflect on your TV menu.
You can choose from multiple themes, choose what menu sections and menu item information to include on the TV menu, set your TV menu to rotate through multiple screens, and create and update slides for ads or specials.
As with its Print Menu product, the professional BeerMenus design team offers to create a custom TV Menu design for you for no additional fee.
Technically, iMenuPro provides digital menu board software. However, the process for updating it is extremely cumbersome:
First, you have to export a menu design for a TV to a file, which you then need to get onto a thumb drive. Once that’s done, walk over to your TV and plug the thumb drive into it (provided your TV supports a thumb drive, which is no guarantee). After that, follow your TV’s instructions to display an image on the TV (consult your manual). Make sure you choose the correct image file, then full screen the image once you’re done.
Each time you want to update your TV menu, you’d need to go through that process.
Here’s more info on how iMenuPro’s digital menu board works, but suffice it to say that using iMenuPro to create your digital menu is a time consuming process, and extra time is something restaurant owners and bar owners don't have.
Additionally, though it’s not nearly as big a problem as the updating process itself, iMenuPro doesn’t seem to support rotating through multiple screens with its digital menu solution.
Both services offer the ability to embed your live menu on your website. Once installed, whenever you update your menu on iMenuPro or on BeerMenus (depending which service you use) your website menu will automatically update.
However, only BeerMenus offers to create a custom design for your website menu. And, like with its custom Print and TV Menu designs, it does so for no additional fee.
Promoting to the local BeerMenus.com audience
Importantly, BeerMenus has a consumer facing website at www.beermenus.com, and it also has iPhone and Android apps. All 3 channels reach consumers when they're deciding where to buy beer, wine, and spirits.
On BeerMenus, you can promote events and trigger push notifications and emails to people who follow your business or locals who follow a beer, wine, or spirit you add to your menu.
Because of its consumer-facing website and 10+ year track record, BeerMenus also enables you to easily reach people using Google and other search engines to find local places carrying or serving specific beers, wines, or spirits. Learn more about SEO for craft beer businesses.
Only BeerMenus enables you to automate email marketing to people who follow your business or locals who follow a beer you add to your menu. Learn more about email marketing.
In other words, BeerMenus can serve as a one-stop shop for creating an awesome menu as well as marketing your menus to your local audience.
On the other hand, iMenuPro is strictly a menu making software program, meaning it has no consumer facing website or services. Businesses only use it to create their print, TV, and/or website menus.
Social media marketing
Only BeerMenus offers an automatic process for posting to Facebook and Twitter.
Businesses can use BeerMenus to post to Facebook and Twitter whenever they add a new menu item, and they can also use it to automatically post other announcements and specials.
Finally, BeerMenus offers a Facebook page tab app that enables you to include a live updating menu on your Facebook page. Unfortunately, because of a Facebook limitation, this is only available to your Facebook business page if it has more than 2,000 fans.
iMenuPro doesn't offer social media integrations of any kind.
Who is BeerMenus?
We're a group of beer loving folks who connect bars, restaurants, beer stores, and breweries with local customers from across the world, through customized Print Menus, TV Menus, and online marketing tools.
If you want to read more about how and why we got started, check out our founding story.