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Facebook's New Menu Service Gets It Halfway to GrubHub

Courtesy FacebookIf you want to check out a restaurant’s menu, your best bet aside from the business’s website is to browse Yelp (YELP) or OpenTable (OPEN), which provide not only menus with prices but also customer reviews, or GrubHub, which also has the distinct advantage of letting people actually order from those menus. Now Facebook (FB) wants some of that traffic.

On Thursday the social network announced a new feature through marketing company Constant Contact that allows restaurants to upload their menus to their pages, which beats typing out all the appetizers, entrees, and desserts, or snapping a photo of the physical menu.

Constant Contact’s service, called SinglePlatform, helps local businesses show their menus, photos, and specials. Restaurants that already use SinglePlatform will automatically have their menus added to their Facebook pages, which can help boost traffic to their stores. Already, consumers can make reservations through OpenTable on both Facebook and Yelp.

As Facebook tries to attract local businesses, Yelp is trying to get more social. The reviews company, which had $233 million in revenue last year, primarily from advertising, said its growth strategy includes increasing content contribution, including reviews, photos, and tips. Users can also order food delivery through Yelp, though this service, along with others like table reservation and gift certificates, accounted for only 5 percent of sales.

Yelp has been collecting reviews for years, but it presumably won’t be too hard for Facebook to do the same. After all, people are used to kvetching about a wide range of things on the site. The next extension, if this proves successful, would be ordering food on Facebook, a service that would compete with GrubHub (GRUB). However, previous efforts by retailers to open storefronts on Facebook had weaker results than expected.

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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