Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Happy Birthday, to us!

This is true. The Menu Pile is a year old already and, my - how time has flown.

Happy birthday

It started out a year ago, with a small pile of about 5 or 6 scanned menus from two small towns in Cambridgeshire, namely that of ‘March’ and ‘Chatteris’.

A single, lonely, web-page that was simply hung-out to dry on the big, bad internet.  Not even in it’s own space, but that of a shared sub-folder, accessed via a ‘/menus’ tag on an existing domain name, purely to get some form of a memorably web address to it when telling people about it.

Gradually, more menus were added.

Then a few more – curry or kebab places, all of which were local to me, that I didn’t even know of, with menus I’d never of thought about using.

And then a proper web-page ‘happened’. A little ‘Cloud hosting’ here, a little ‘magic database’ work there. The real foundations were now being laid.

Various domain names were bought; one stuck, the idea grew.

I then had ‘the bug’. The need. The urge to gather more.

Some nights, after getting the children to bed, I would be out driving around Cambridgeshire, collecting menus from villages and towns that I’d never heard of, despite being within 50 miles of where I live. I’d park the car, run into restaurant or takeaway, grab a menu, and leaving sharpish as there was always more places to go before calling it a night.

At times, I’d have about 10 or 12 in my hand whilst walking into a takeaway. The person serving behind the counter would look at me as though they knew what I was doing. Obviously gathering menus, due to just moved in to the area.

But they were wrong. They weren’t to know my secret, that I was hoarding menus to subsequently sit for hours the next night, scanning and publishing PDFs of them, just to upload and link them to the growing rows-upon-rows of places in the database, forming the basis of the website.

People I work with would bring them in for me, each person happy as Larry that they’ve helped and contributed. But no-one more happy than me, having received menus but without having the cost in petrol. Some were fresh from their letterbox the day before; some were retrieved from the back of ‘that drawer’ in the kitchen that we all have; some, much to my surprise and utter disbelief, were hand-collected from their part of the world previously unknown/unvisited by me, but all were contributing to the overall pile of menus that I’d have with me.

The team behind The Menu Pile triples; I am no longer alone in this. The ‘big guns’ have been brought in; this is quite obviously a ‘bigger-than-I’ job.  Vision status: shared.

Menus are still being added today, now in batches in order to fit in with the development workload.  But now, they’re arriving in the post. Or via the Facebook Messages. Or even by WhatsApp. Some of which are from friends around the country helping out a mate. Some are from new friends on the (then) new Facebook Page, some by restaurant owners driving them to my door themselves.  And some just arrived from distant parts of the country, in a large envelope with no other markings than my home address. (Thank you!)

We. Love. Them. 

Yes, all of them. Single pages, fold-out pages. From black and white, single-sided A4 landscape menus, right through to the front/back A3 spreads in full, glorious Technicolor and seven folds.

Each menu added to The Menu Pile website, as it stands today, symbolises a choice. An option. A decision based on accessing a normally-tangible ‘thing’ in the real world, but now digitised for the virtual world. A question: “where to eat?” shortly followed by another. “What’s there to eat?”

Help us, to help you to eat better takeaways. (And from places you might not have tried.)

Help us, to get restaurant owners to hear your words on how well (or not) they’re doing. Giving feedback is the only way they know whether they’re making or breaking your Saturday night takeaway.

Help us to make the next birthday we have, a mark of another year where we’ve been able to bring more takeaways and restaurants to your phone, tablet or desktop computer.

Send your menus in to us - we promise to look after each and every single one of them.

No menu will go neglected, mistreated or discarded.

All will be at home at The Menu Pile website.

Thanks for your support for the last 12 months. Here’s to the next 12 months ahead.


The Menu Pile Team

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