Featured site: www.beetcafe.com

Featured site: www.beetcafe.com

By Brandon Reid, Assistant Editor

They’ve got the beet. Well, actually, they’ve got many beets and “Beet Stew” and a “Beet Lounge.”

Rockford’s www.beetcafe.com, named after the vegetable instead of the reporter’s “beat” or the musician’s “beat,” offers the local area the latest entertainment news and information, including photo galleries, directories, feature articles and events calendars.

Although the site’s motto is “The Rockford Area ENTERTAINMENT GUIDE served fresh daily,” the site’s features are updated monthly.

As the staff writes under its “About Us” link: “Welcome to beetcafe.com. We offer the Rockford and surrounding area a place to explore the local music and entertainment scene. Each month, we will feature articles on musicians, area restaurants/clubs and attractions. … We are starting out small, but we want to grow into a site that you will want to visit often.”

Currently featured on the site are photo galleries of the RAMI Awards banquet and the Haight Village Historic Walkabout; features about Midway Village, New American Theater’s Little Shop of Horrors presentation, the Carlyle Brewing Co., Bacchus Wine Bar, Saturn Studio, and the Firehouse Pub in Byron; and CD reviews of Sinéad O’Connor, the Dixie Chicks and The Blind Boys of Alabama. The CD reviews feature an easy to understand rating system—five beets is good, 0 beets is bad.

The site also has a column called “Beet Stew” and features the “Musician’s Corner” column by Tom Leu.

The site is decorated in purple and green (the colors of the beet vegetable) and is easy to navigate. Every link on the site actually works and it doesn’t take an eternity for pages to load. Particularly surprising are the photo galleries, which feature as many as 20 images on a page and load relatively quickly. And every image actually loads, as opposed to many sites where you’re lucky to get two out of every three images to load.

Possibly Beetcafe.com’s strongest offerings are its searchable directories, including the following: arts/galleries, attractions, dining/clubs, lodging and musicians. The directories offer listings for, among other things, antiques, farmer’s markets, restaurants, theaters, museums, shopping centers and golf courses. Listings include contact information.

Also a strong point is the site’s “Beet Lounge,” which offers discussion boards in the following areas: art, artists, and galleries; attractions; “Beet talk”; CD talk; dining/clubs; music; and “Speak to the Beet.” The hottest corner of the lounge was the music link, which had 14 postings. “Speak to the Beet” allows readers to interact with the Beetcafe.com staff and offer compliments or suggestions on how to improve the site.

The site also provides an events calendar and allows those registered with the site (registration is free) to post their own upcoming events. The site’s front page offers a displayed “Special Events Calendar” and lists “Today’s Events” at the bottom right of the page.

At the top left of the front page is a section called “Check it Out.” The Check it Out section offers a quick link for readers to sign up for the Beetcafe e-newsletter and links to “Today’s Events” and “Today’s Movie Times.” The movie times link takes readers to the Kerasotes Web site where times for Rockford-area movie theaters are listed and updated regularly.

Also interesting are the classified ads. Beetcafe.com, unlike many online publications, offers the Rockford area a unique online outlet for classified advertising. Rates are listed on the site.

Avid readers may want to sign up for the site’s “e-updates,” which allow readers to tailor information based on their own tastes and have it sent to their e-mail accounts at no charge.

Beetcafe.com offers the Rockford area an informative, easy-to-navigate entertainment site with some unique features. Stop by www.beetcafe.com to check it out for yourself. Or, e-mail the Beetcafe staff at info@beetcafe.com.

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