Searching for Hours of Operation

I am trying to find on the web the hours that a restaurant is open, and surprisingly this is hard (or impossible) to find on the web.  I am heading out on a hike today, and looking to pick up a sandwich to take along, but I would like to make sure it opens early enough.  Simple web search, right?

Here is the challenge: how do you find out on the web when a store or restaurant is open.  I picked a local sandwich shop to test this out on.

When you “Google” a restaurant you get a plethora of information about the restaurant:  address, phone number, directions, map, category, service policy, cuisine, features, reviews, ratings, whether there is a cover charge, what credit cards they take.  But no indication of when the restaurant is open.

I can use street view to see what the place looks like.  I zoom in on the front door where the hours are listed, but no, unfortunately, not enough resolution to read the hour that they are going to open today.

The restaurant chain itself has a nice site with flashing and appetizing graphics.  It has a “restaurant locator” which gives address, phone number, and driving directions to the nearest location.  But no indication of hours of operation.

On allmenus.com I can get a complete listing of the menu, descriptions of more than 40 items, and prices for three different sizes of sandwiches, and even a catering menu for larger purchases, along with phone number, address, customer reviews.  The delivery range is marked on a map.  There are links to coupon sites.  But no indication of the hours of operation.

Restaurant-Guide.com is the first site I have see that has a spot to list the hours of operation.   Unfortunately, for this restaurant it is blank.  But, huge kudos for this – I clicked around on other restaurants and many had listed the hours of operation.  I am going to remember this site.

Urban Spoon lists the phone number, the address, restaurant type, a pro reivew and user reviews, and a list of people who “liked” the page.  But no indication of hours of operation.

Waiter.com lists hours of delivery on most of the search results, but the restaurant I want is not listed.  This is actually a delivery service, and not an information service about the restaurants.

Yelp lists reviews, category, ratings, address, phone, link to web site, Price Range, Accepts Credit Cards, Attire, Good for Groups, Good for Kids, Takes Reservations, Delivery, Take-out, Waiter Service, Wheelchair Accessible, Outdoor Seating, Good For Lunch/Dinner, Alcohol.   Even photos of menu items.  But no indication of hours of operation.

insiderpages.com was able to find the restaurant quickly, listing name, address, link to web site, a google map, restaurant category, and whether you could take out food.  It had places for photos and reviews, but no place to list the hours of operation.

But wait!  Google has this cool way of listing additional searches, and there is one that has “hours” after my initial search.  I click that.  I get a link to the waiters.com site mentioned above, the corporate site which does not mention hours, a wiki in Davis California in which volunteers have listed the hours of some of the local restaurants there.

idine.com has information pages that prominently list hours of operations.  Unfortunately, this is one of those promotion / point reward systems, and they only list affiliated restaurants.  They are not a general information site.

CARestaurantFinder.com found the desired restaurant quickly enough.  It lists the name, address, phone number, and a google map, and a lot of ads.  SuperPages.com has a listing for the business, including address, phone number, a map, reviews, photos, but no indication of hours of operation.  The restaurant is listed on BeachCalifornia.com with the normal information and map, but no hours.   The Mercury News runs a site listing businesses, and again with address, phone number, and map, but (not surprisingly at this point) no hours of operation.

Throwing care to the wind, I am going to drive over there and see if they are open.

Am I the only one who thinks this is strange?  A plethora of information, but one critical piece consistently (well, almost consistently) left out.  Every site contained the address, a map, and directions.  So much interest in the physical dimensions to tell you where to go, but no effort at all in the time dimension letting you know when to go.

I must say: I searched a competitor corporate site, and found they have this information easily available, so not everyone is clueless.  What is remarkable is how ubiquitous the “map” is, and relative to this how difficult to find the hours of operation.   Can anyone explain this curious difference?

In Summary: It is pointless to tell me where the store is & how to get there, when I don’t know if it is going to be open.

Anything we can do to motivate companies to list their hours of operation on their web sites?

Postlog: I did drive by there, and it was not yet open.  I bought the sandwiches at the deli counter at a nearby grocery store, which will probably be my first choice next time.

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2 Responses to Searching for Hours of Operation

  1. David French says:

    After all the failures to standardise the expression of information in the business and IT world now you want standards in advertising?
    Seriously, I wondered whether it was simply a failure in the templating that runs across the web site preparation and aggregation services like google. That is the information providers are not prompted to provide the information. However, looking at my local restaurants through Google Maps and the underlying Google Places, I find that although Google Places has a prominent place to put the hours information no-one has used it locally.

    • kswenson says:

      Yeah, of all the important things, I was concerned that this was not important enough to gripe about. Since posting this I have discussed with friends, and many people have the same complaint: It is pointless to tell me where the store is & how to get there, when I don’t know if it is going to be open.

      Having just read “empowered”, I am now reading “Hyper-Social Organizations”, both of which say that the consumer can speak loudly. That company will lose my business, and I will favor businesses that can assure me they will be open. If we use social media to speak this loudly, it should change — or at least that is the threory.

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