When Jim Spanfeller was asked what niche he was targeting with The Daily Meal when he launched it in 2011, he replied: “The biggest one out there: the middle.” While many sites cater to the recipe hunter, and others offer elite restaurant-world insider snarking, Spanfeller—CEO of Spanfeller Media Group—saw a big opportunity to create a site for the mainstream food enthusiasts who “lead hectic lives and look forward to a nice moment to bring family and friends together around a great meal,” says Spanfeller. This meal might be home-cooked, or at a local pizzeria or French fine dining.
Food, for this crowd, is neither utilitarian nor aspirational but rather central to a lifestyle that The Daily Meal strives to support, offering everything from recipes, cooking tips, and wine and drink pairings to the best local eateries and destination dining experiences. They also recently added comprehensive restaurant and bar profile pages that include a wealth of information including directions, hours of operation, contact information, and menus in addition to editorial rankings like “101 Best Restaurants in the U.S.,” “101 Best Burgers in America,” “Best BBQ Chains,” and “Best Food Trucks.”
In addition to these rankings and reviews written by The Daily Meal team, the new restaurant venue pages also link to reviews from other trusted sources such as The New York Times and Chicago Tribune, consumer reviews, and helpful tips from Foursquare users, as well as providing the ability to make a reservation via Open Table.
Restaurant pages also feature an interactive browsable map that includes commonly visited “next stop” locations—such as spot to grab a drink or dessert—and other nearby restaurants and bars so that users can not only find where to eat, but can plan an evening of fun. Users can also opt to toggle on layers such as Facebook reviews so they can see what their friends suggest in a given area.
The Daily Meal developed the back-end technology that unifies all of this information, commentary, and utility so that its users “don’t have to hunt around the web.” It also serves to keep them on the site and engaged with the content.
As Spanfeller describes it, “Yes, we provide the information our readers are looking for. But we take into account all the wonders of the internet. Like a good Sherpa, we go out and pull it all together for users.”