Foursquare Adds Restaurant Menus, What About Food Check Ins?

Less than a week after unveiling the Explore section of its website, Foursquare announced a nice addition — restaurant menus.

The Foursquare mobile app has included an “Explore” tab for while now, but last week’s announcement marked its expansion into a full-blown city guide, personalized based on your check ins and those of your friends. Foursquare called it a “big leap” toward its vision of “adding an ‘interesting’ layer to your whole world,” while TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis suggested it was a return to CEO Dennis Crowley’s roots as a product manager at mobile city guide Vindigo.

Now, Foursquare says it has partnered with startup SinglePlatform to add menus and pricing information for almost 250,000 restaurants in Explore. This seems like a pretty natural addition, and a way to make Explore a viable alternative to a site like Yelp. (It seems only appropriate that Foursquare is becoming more Yelp-like, since Yelp took a page from Foursquare by adding user check ins.) Menus are now live on the Foursquare’s PC and mobile websites, and the company says it will be adding them to the mobile app soon.

I’m also curious if Foursquare can do more with this menu data. What about allowing users to include exactly what they plan to eat as part of their check in? After all, the company is already partnering with ESPN, MovieTickets, and Songkick to allow users to check-in to specific sports events, movies, and concerts, and startups like Foodspotting are already exploring the appeal of sharing what you’re eating.

On the other hand, the food check in model isn’t quite as natural as checking in to a movie. You might check-in somewhere without knowing what you’re going to order, and you’re probably going to order more than one item from the menu. But it could be a fun feature if done right.