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Seattle steakhouse Manhattan uses Appetas.

appetaslogoRestaurant websites are usually unimpressive. Menus can be hard to find and the entire user experience can actually divert you from going to an eatery.

Seattle-based Appetas is solving that problem by offering up online software that lets restaurant owners make professional-looking websites in seconds.

”Appetas’ mission is simple – make restaurants look as beautiful online as they do on the plate,” co-founders Keller Smith and Curtis Fonger told us in our Startup Spotlight last fall.

When we spoke with Smith and Fonger — both ex-Microsofties — in the fall, they had caught investor attention after placing first at the Seattle AngelHack competition. From there they participated in the Windows Azure accelerator through January.

Now, they’re going live to the public.

Founders Keller Smith (top) and Curtis Fonger.
Founders Keller Smith (top) and Curtis Fonger.

Appetas’ software allows restaurant owners to easily create their own customizable websites with more than 35 professional designs. There’s a $29.99/month fee — “less than a daily drip coffee,” says Smith — and a 20 percent discount for those who pay for a year upfront.

Restaurants can preview their sites in seconds by simply entering their company name at I played around with it and the execution is pretty nifty. The software pulls in data (menu, location, hours) from existing online sources, then throws a nice restaurant-specific picture on the preview homepage — a tasty-looking taco came up when I tested “Chipotle,” and a fat, juicy burger appeared when I tried “Red Mill Burgers.”

There are already three restaurants using Appetas, like the Manhattan, that are utilizing the software to share weekly specials, news and updates with their customers. More than 200 other restaurants have been testing the beta and are waiting for the service to go live.

“Appetas’ ability to show you, not just a rough mock up, but your real fully functioning website in seconds is absolutely stunning,” said Manhattan owner Sung Woo Choi.

The websites are also scaled to fit any phone, tablet, or desktop.

“We’re constantly thinking of new ways to make things insanely easy for users,” the founders told us in September. “For creating websites, we do everything possible to make it so users don’t have to do work.”

Team Appetas after winning the Seattle AngelHack Keller (left) and Curtis (right).
Smith (L) and Fonger after winning the Seattle AngelHack. 

Appetas has raised $70,000 in funding from three sources: Right Side Capital Management, Palo Alto Venture Science and TechStars.

Aside from having friends do a little contract work, it’s pretty much just Smith and Fonger behind Appetas. They’ve just moved into SURF Incubator downtown and “are loving it,” so far.

Smith was previously at Microsoft for six years as a project manager, responsible for product design and project management of the search user experience with the Microsoft SharePoint, Search Server, and SharePoint Online products. Fonger was a software developer engineer for two-and-a-half years in Redmond and developed the UI for the Windows Live Mesh desktop client and the SkyDrive desktop client for Windows.


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