How to Build a Restaurant Directory with No Code

Like most of you I’m stuck at home under quarantine with a lot of time on my hands. I needed to do something or else I might go stir crazy. Seeing the #TheGreatAmericanTakeout efforts and wanted to do something for my local community of Friendswood, Texas. Why not build a restaurant directory?

Within a few hours Friendswood Underground was born. It’s an online guide to restaurants in my community that are offering takeout and delivery. Now I hope by publishing this guide I can help others do the same for their communities.

My requirements were pretty basic:

  • Keep it simple – Each restaurant gets a simple bio with a picture, phone number, and links to online ordering
  • Rapid development – Time is critical so build on an existing platform that can be deployed quickly
  • No Code – No need to get fancy (I wrote a few lines of CSS but that barely counts)

WordPress is always my platform of choice for Rapid Development and it’s ideal to build a restaurant directory. If you need an affordable, reliable WordPress host check out SiteGround.

For my theme I used the X Theme, but you could do this project with just the 2020 Theme that comes standard with WordPress. The directory plugin is going to do most of the heavy lifting. For more theme suggestions check out this article.

For the directory function I chose the Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro. The free version is fine although I did spring for the Premium. This way each listing can be in more than one category. However, if you’re looking for something a little more robust I recommend GeoDirectory. It’s loaded with features and there are paid add-ons if you want to get fancy.

Enough Talk, Let’s Build

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins > Add New
  2. Search for “Advanced Classifieds & Directory Pro”
  3. Click “Install Now”. Once installed, click “Activate”.
  4. The plugin will automatically create the necessary pages, but before we get into that let’s configure the settings.
  5. The dashboard menu should have a new section titled “Classifieds & Directory”. Click it.
  6. Choose “Settings” from the submenu that appears.
  7. Configure based on your preferences. If you don’t want users to submit restaurants then disable the relevant settings.
  8. Go to the “Advanced” tab and then select “Map”.
  9. You will need to input a Google Maps API key. Click Here for directions.
  10. Next you will need to create Categories. Click “Categories” from the menu on the left and then “Add New”.
  11. If you are using the free version you will need to keep the categories simple because each restaurant can only be in one. However, if you upgraded to the paid version you can create as many categories as you wish. For reference, the two most popular categories on my site are “Delivery” and “Alcohol”.
  12. You may also want to create some Custom Fields which is the next item on the plugin submenu on the left. Click “Custom Fields” and then “Add New”.
  13. Just like the categories, these are up to you. I created custom URL fields for online ordering and popular delivery services like DoorDash. Also, I added a custom checkbox field for alcohol.
  14. Before editing your layout you will need a few listings. Go to “All Listings” and then click “Add New”.
  15. Finally you can create your Home Page using the shortcode builder. Go to “Classifieds & Directory” > “Dashboard” and choose the tab labeled “Shortcode Builder”. I used [acadp_search_form location=”0″ category=”0″] for the Search bar and [acadp_listings view=”grid” orderby=”title” order=”asc” listings_per_page=”45″] for the listings grid.

Congrats! You did it!

You’re now ready to go live. For ease of use I added buttons on the home page that link to each category. This way mobile users have an easier time navigating the site. Roughly two-thirds of my users have been using mobile devices so using responsive design is crucial.

If you run into trouble or I missed a step please let me know. Lord knows I have plenty of time on my hands.