Agreed on the "empty pages" problem. I want the browse categories page to be a lot more informative, and show number of open requests in each category + 1-2 recent requests for that category.
Isn't getting people to respect any new web app a challenge? :) Thanks for the feedback!
What technology in combination with what $5/month hosting company could you possibly have used to achieve such terrible results?
Remember that you will need to add indexes to the database manually. Cake won't screw with your database by adding them itself.
Still, I'd be worried if a single-query homepage like yours was showing even a hint of a load spike under that sort of traffic. It's amazing that even cheapo hosting can really be that bad.