The Zakia Deli Website Redesign Story
Zakia deli. This is one of the more interesting projects that I've worked on. It all started about a year ago when Haley and I went to this Lebanese and Mediterranean restaurant called Zakia Deli in Minneapolis. The deli was right down the road from where she used to live in college. We walked in not really knowing what to expect, but just knowing we wanted to fill our bellies with some good food. As soon as we walked in we were greeted by the owner, David. He offered as a bunch of free samples, helped us pick out our entrees, and added some extra sides, sauces and cookies all for free. The service and hospitality we received from David was first class. Haley and I were impressed with this little hidden gem in the middle of the city.
After leaving the restaurant I went to their website and saw it could use a little bit of work. Me being the person I am, I always feel I can help out someone's business. So the first thing I did was leave a review of the restaurant to get my name out there. After that, I reached out over Facebook to re-introduce myself and let them know how I thought I can help. I waited for a few days and didn’t hear back from them. I found an email online and tried reaching out that way. Still nothing. I even came back to the restaurant in person a few times looking for David and still could NOT get a hold of them. At that point I just let it go. I know that’s how business goes sometimes. People get busy and you don’t hear back. I was ready to move on.
1 year later
Now here I am a year later and I get a ping from my phone. It reads, “New Facebook message from Zakia Deli.” What?! It was from David. He told me he got my message and that I should stop by the restaurant. “This is to good to be true!” I thought to myself. So I ended up going into Zakia Deli and talking to David. I told him again how I can help and how much I enjoyed his restaurant the last time I visited. And just like that, we started working with one another.
The plan I proposed to David is that I would come into the restaurant and we would plan and build out the website together. This way I could his feedback and make adjustments to the working website in real time. This made it for a really cool experience each time I came in. I worked with David on everything from planning out the website, plotting out the different pages, selecting photos, and the message we wanted the new website to get across. This was really valuable because I was getting feedback on the website from David while sitting at his restaurant table just like any other customer. We involved a few of the employees as well to get their feedback and thoughts on the design. This helped me learn a lot more about the restaurant and the unique experience and culture it offered.
I went into the restaurant three different times as we progressed through the website together. We got it done in about two weeks. This was probably one of the coolest experiences I ever had working with a customer. Because I wasn't just building a website for another client. I was really getting ingrained into their business. I was learning who David was as a business owner. I learned the history behind the restaurant and the food they make. And this allowed me to design a much better website than I ever could have on my own.
The result of it all was a really sharp website that can now be found a lot easier on Google. It features higher quality images, an updated template, and a re-formatted online menu. The old website used a PDF menu. The new website has a menu-formatted page so that people don't need to read a PDF menu on their mobile phone. This makes a lot cleaner and easier to read.
The goal of the entire project was to get people to visit Zakia deli, email them, or call them to place an order through the takeout or catering menu. Throughout the website, you will find multiple call-to-actions to get in touch with the restaurant.
Lessons learned and memories made
This was one of the most rewarding projects I ever worked on. It taught me to stay persistent. It taught me not to be afraid of getting shut down. It taught me to keep moving forward and give it all I got because you never know what might come out of it. (Even if you have to wait for a year.)
On top of that came some added benefits as well. Throughout the entire process, David treated me really well just like he did that first time that I walked into his restaurant with Haley. Every time I visited David sent me home little sandwiches, desserts, or sides to eat. The last time I went in there with Haley, David treated us to a whole smorgasbord of food. We were looking to get catering from him for our wedding and he went over the top.
I’ve never met anyone like David that's willing to treat their customers so well and give them the full experience of his culture. A lesson learned that I want to instill in my business. My hope is for this new website to take off and help David grow his business so that he can reach his life’s biggest goals. This was an awesome project to work on and I look forward to doing more like these.