The centerpiece of any eating establishment. It is
not just a list of food items for sale, but the
reason why that establishment exists.
Considered to be one of
the most critical
activities of food service
It defines the decor,
service style, costume,
and required cooking
skills. The process of
planning a menu must
Catering policy is a guideline for food operations.
The menu planning process starts with the
mission of the establishment and the
consequent policies of the establishment.
While a MISSION- is a strategic goal to be
achieved over a period time, POLICIES- are
guidelines for action set by the owner or top
Catering policy considerations
• The market segments that
have to be reached.
• The price levels acceptable
to this market segment.
• Menu policy: a la carte, table
d' hote or a combination
• The quality standards that
have to be main tained.
• Range of dishes to be
• Nutritional factors.
• The mix of fresh foods and
• The desired food cost.
• Equipment and skills the
investor is willing to spend
• The general theme of the
• Feedback from existing and
• Performance eveluation
Menu decision flow chart
Principal contributors to menu planning:
• MARKET RESEARCH AGENCY- does the
initial research to feed the investor with
authentic information on demographics,
competition, trends, etc. They recommend the
exact segment market that the restaurant
should cater to. They identify the age groups,
income levels, eating habits, sex, occupation,
etc., that would be best for the restaurant to
• CHEF- the most critical person, as he
preparres the food. He decides what must be
listed, based on many factors. Many
establishments, especially standalone ones,
revolve their menu around the skills of the
• FOOD & BEVERAGE MANAGER- looks at the
revenue contribution of a restaurant to the entire
F&B operation of a hotel.
• ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY- creates the cover
in keeping with the theme of the restaurant. They
plan media campaigns to popularise the
• PRINTER- prints the menu cover based on quality,
cost effectiveness, and concept.
• SALES & MARKETING MANAGER- decides
whether the menu and the menu cover sells. He
determines what uniqueness can be able to promote
it in the market.
• A professional market survey reduces the possibility of
mistakes. The survey can be done either by the individual menu
planner or a professional market research agency.
• It is important to define the MARKET SEGMENT they wish to
cater to. It is necessary to define the demographics in terms of
age, sex, occupation, income level, etc. this decision is based on
the location of the restaurant.
• COMPETITION – one can decide to either complement similar
restaurants because the demand is bigger than supply, or meet
competition head-on with superior skills and marketing
stability.the other way is to build a niche for oneself by either
offering a peciaalty restaurant or focusing on a special need. A
historical analysis of an existing establishment is a wonderful
source of data because items have been tried over time.
Knowing your guest
The restaurant starts and close with the guest in mind.
The GUEST- is central to its operation.
• WHO IS MY GUEST?: this is helped by market
research either individually or through an agency as
• Customers can vary by occupation, sex, age group,
marital status, etc.
The research profile takes various twists and turns to
reach the exact guest profile. Once this is known, then
their food preferences are ascertained.
*The menu must serve the guest profile of the targeted
Knowing your operation
The next step is to design the operation around the
guest profile. The menu planner must be clear
about the theme of the restaurant. The menu
planner must know the equipment available as
these are capital items and costly. The skills
available to cook items and the use of existing
equipment,is the next consideration. A major factor
and limitation is the budget expectations. Menu
items must fall into prescribed food costs and
revenue projections. The ability to maintain
consistent standards is another issue that the
menu planner must take into account.
Developing a pool of menu ideas
• The first step is to p[repare a pool of menu possibilities.
– Professional cuisine books
– Old menus of the establishment
– Trade magazines
– Home cookbooks
– Menu covers of competitors
– A famous poissionier
– And many menus are built around existing
knowledge and skills.
Selection criteria from the pool of menus
Having donethemarket research, amenu planner would start short-
listing theitemsthat need to beon themenu. Theselection isbased
on many factors:
-Incompatibilty with the theme
-Inability to meet consistent
-Non-availability of equipment
-Non-availability of cooking
- Not familiar with the cuisine
- Non-availability of raw
-Shelf-life of raw materials
-Seasonality of raw materials
-Knowledge of the cuisine
Complete knowledge of the cuisine
It is important for the menu planner to have a thorough
knowledge of the cuisine and the menu offer from it.
• Selection of staff
• Preparation and storage
• Describing the item to the guest
• Preparation times
• Accompaniments and garnishes
• This is a successful method of testing food before
• Food trials are food tests by people who matter.
• First are the cooking professionals who evaluate
the food on technical grounds.
• Then the gourmet experts who have special
palates to discern the nuances of taste.
• Opinion-makers are also a good segment to include
in the food trials as they will be encouraged to give
recommendations by word of mouth.
THE MENU Menu objectives
Desinging a menu starts with setting appropriate
objectives that answer the following:
1. Guest expectations: the guest is the central reason
why we are in business. His or her need and wants have
to be fulfilled. It is the inner urge that realise them to
come into the restaurant.
NEEDS- are basic to survival.
WANTS- is the realisation of the need influenced by
culture and socioeconomic factors.
The menu provides the kind of food that the guest wants.
There can be other needs once the basic need for food is
met. Guests maybe looking for safety, a place to hang
out with friends, prestige in terms of quality and exclusive
pricing, or the opportunity to express oneself.
2. Perceived Value: Guests are willing to pay
provided they perceived the value of patronising
3. Item price: Guests like a variety of prices to
adapt to their budgets. A menu must have a
range of menu items that fits into every budget.
Pricing can only be fixed in relation to
4. Reason for property visit: The purpose of
visiting an outlet can vary. A restaurer must
know the reason to cater it.
5. Socioeconomic factors: Culture plays an
6. Demographic concerns: Profiling the regular
guests are important. The profile can be done on
the basis of income, age, sex, occupation, family
size, etc. to fine-tune the menu offer.
7. Ethnic factors: The concentration of an ethnic
group in the immediate region can determine the
type of cuisine or menu items to offer.
8. Religious factors: This is an important factor in
the globalisation process.
APPETISERS: hot and cold. The appetiser is meant to
stimulate appetite. It is light, small in portion and served in
SOUPS: hot, cold, creme, clear. These may substitute or be in
addition to appetisers.
ENTREES: fish,poultry,lamb, pork, beef. These are the main
dishes accompanied by everything else. Customers may want
to go straight for the main dish.
STARCH ITEMS: rice, breads, pastas. These are essential
accompaniments to meals. They provide the filler of the
VEGETABLE: dry, curried, spiced, diet. These are
vegetable choices in addition to vegetables that are
served as accompaniment to main dishes or choices
to accompany a main dish.
DESSERTS: ice creams, cakes. This is the sweet dish
to round up the meal. Establishments can go to great
lenghts to stimulate dessert sales.
BEVERAGES: hot or cold; coffee, tea or liqueur.
A menu must be balanced to appeal to customers. To
be able to maximise profits it is necessary to give a
well thought out menu spread.
All dishes must have a gastronomic balance in terms of form,
colours, textures, and flavours.
1. COLOUR: a dish could be ruined with colour monotony. A
menu planner looks into this detail.
Garnishes are a great contributor to colour.
2. TEXTURE: assembling components of a dish of similar
consistency and texture can only tend to create boredom
for the plate.
3. FLAVOUR: the contrasting flavours of some items seem
naturally to go together.
4.FORM: shapes bring variety to a dish. Chefs can create
shapes with vegetables and meats to create appeal.
Contrasting shapes enhances the appeal to dishes.
THE BASIC PURPOSE OF EATING IS TO GIVE
NUTRITION TO THE BODY.
The average intake of an average male is 2500 calories.
These calories may increase for people with physical
occupation by about 300 calories.
The basic blocks of food are CARBOHYDRATES,
PROTEINS, FATS, MINERALS, AND VITAMIN.
CARBOHYDRATES and FATS provide energy and
warmth to the body.
PROTEINS and some minerals build the body.
VEGETABLES AND FRUITS provide the minerals for the
VITAMINS are body protectors and are available in small
quantities in vegetable and fruit.
Normally each meal should provide a third of the
nutritional balance, assumming a person has three to
five meals a day.
Calorie requirements and nutrition can be distributed
over all meals in a day. Menu planners keep nutritional
charts for all ages, sex, occupation, etc.
1. Menu Plan
12. Guest Satisfaction
Wine lists are essential part of the dinning experience. Not
only do alcoholic beverages give large profit margins,
they also stimulate appetite.
Here are some tips on the wine list:
• List it if you have it.
• Wines and spirits must be presented in a sequence they
are drunk in a meal.
• Wine lists are always presented first.
• Just like food specials, the house may have some
creative cocktails. These must be highlighted, as they not
only give the restaurant a unique edge, but also a higher
• If the wine list is limited, it is in order to recommend
• After dinner, drinks like liqueurs and brandies are listed
at the end or with the dessert menu.
DESIGNING THE MENU COVER
The menu cover is the defining merchandise that is the soul
of a restuarant. It is a tangible item that stimulates
through feel, script, and colour.
It reflects the PERSONALITY of the restuarant.
The menu cover ENTERTAINS.
The menu EDUCATES, as it explains the ingredientsb
and the method of preparation to guests.
The menu card also reflects the MOOD of the restaurant.
The menu cover creates IDENTITY with the theme of the
The menu has another important role and that is to
ADVERTISE the cuisine and restaurant.
It is easy to get carried away with menu
design. Before, producing works of art, a
menu planner needs to get to the business
end first. It must faithfully list the menu items
on offer. The potential of the kitchen crew
must satisfy the customers. The menu must
promote, advertise and inform. The wording
must satisfy the above purpose.
MENU COVER INNOVATIONS
Menu cover designers take great care to come
out with something unique. Most restaurateurs
would like their menu cover to be original and a
talking point. The advertising agency leads
these efforts. One of the methods used is the
material. Some materials used are paper, cloth,
plastic,wood, leather, palm leaf, and glass.
Paper, however, is the most common material
used. What matters in any material is the
durability of the material over a period of time.
Artwork is the
design of the
design reflects the
theme, mood and
quality of the
Typeface refers to the lettering used in menu covers.
Some useful tips are:
• Wherever lettering is used, it is more effective when the
background coulour is lighter than the letters.
• Typefaces come in many sizes, from 6-points to 72-
points. The smaller the type, the harder it is to read. As a
general rule, it is recommended to use a minimum 12-
• Most of the text should be in lowercase type.
• Headings and sub-headings should be in uppercase
• The space between sentences must be kept in mind to
avoid crowding. A minimum 3 points leading
between lines is recommended.
• It is suggested to use exotic typefaces sparingly as
they are hard to read.
• Typefaces selected must match the theme of the
Descriptive copy is essential to explain menu items. This becomes
more critical in specialty cuisines.
There are some considerations when describing the menu items:
• Main ingredient
• Secondary ingredients
• Method of preparation
• Short sentences- the sentences must be crisp and to the point.
• Easy to read
• Claims should be credible- claims are many, including
nutritional,dietary and freshness claims.
• Grading- this helps the customer know exactly what he or she is
• Geographical origin- copy sometimes bring excitement and
authenticity by mentioning the origin of the item.
• Appeal- adjectives are used which appeal to the senses of sight,
smell, taste, hearing, and touch.
• Persuasive- use of lyrical statements which promise quality and
• National terms
• Geographical clues
• Shapes or cuts
• Cooking style
• Famous names
• Historic events
Format is the way the copy is presented based on
the amount of printed material to be included.
Format addresses the menu cover's size, shape
and general make-up.
An insert is a laminated pocket. The insert has the
advantage of changing the menu while retaining
the outer cover.
Specials are advertised on tent cards.
Should the menu copy exceeded the space, the menu
planner has the following options:
1. delete some menu items.
2. shoorten the descriptive copy.
3. drop some of the supplemental copy used for theme
4. choose a format that provides more space.
A good menu is planned inside out. This means the first
priority is given to the menu and its presentation and
the follows other information. It is important to
communicate first the produce a work of art. A menu is
supposed to inform and educate first. It should be
presented in a way that stimulates appetite and results
in a sale.
USE OF SPACE:
A menu cover space is mainly meant to list and desribe the
menu on offer. It is possible that there is additional
space to be filled.
This space can be utilised meaningfully by the following
• Educate on theme
• Story about the management
• Take-out service
• Home-delivery services
• Banquet and meeting facilities
• Shopping arcade
• Tourist attractions
• Credit cards honoured
• Map of the city
• Advertising other hotel facilities
Specials are those menu offerings that are the signature
items of the establishment. The recipe are closely
guarded and not easily duplicated. They become a
unique selling proportion(USP) of an
establishment that separates them from others.
They often attract a higher price and promoting
them leads to good business.
These items are slow moving and need a push with
special recognition. Such items need a special
attention in menu covers.
• List specials in bolder type.
• Describe specials with exciting copy
• Place specials in boxes/panels/graphics devise
• Use more colour and illustrations
COMMON MENU COVER MISTAKES
• MENU COVER IS TOO LARGE
• TYPEFACE IS TOO SMALL
• LACK OF DESCRIPTION
• DIRTY MENUS
• TYPED ADDITIONS
• BLANK PAGES
• OVERCROWDING THE MENU COVER
EVALUATING THE MENU
Some benchmarks to evaluate
• Turnover of each item in
a given period, normally
a year, to take into
account fluctuations in
seasons, weekends and
• Average check income
• Averagecost per check
• Average contribution per
• Actual income against
In addition to these standards,
management may want to
conduct guest surveys to
• Populatr items
• Guest comments
• Competitive analysis
• Variety of items
• Right mix between low and
high contribution items
• Repeat orders