A Great Menu
It is so much more than a list of food and prices.
Your menu is often the first thing your customers see
when they take a table at your restaurant.
It may even be the reason they came through your doors.
You would be surprised how many restaurants spend little or no time on menu design
and miss out on easy ways to help drive sales of their most profitable dishes.
This guidebook has what you need to know about great menu design
From layout to pricing we have it covered. There is also a glossary of mouth watering adjectives
and some excellent tips on how to turn your menu into your most important marketing tool.
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BEFORE YOU START
HOW WILL YOUR MENU BE DIFFERENT?
How are you going to stand out? What are your singnature dishes?
WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN THE MENU & YOUR KITCHEN?
A smaller kitchen will limit the variety of your restaurant menu.
ARE YOUR MENU ITEMS VERSATILE?
Keep food spoilage down and use ingredients in more than one dish.
ARE YOUR DISHES EASY TO PREPARE?
Unless you plan to get a Michelin Star, any menu items that have
over-fussy presentations will bog down your kitchen staff.
DO YOU KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS?
A very important thing to remember when designing your menu is
your customers. Who do you want to attract?
HAVE YOU CHECKED OUT THE COMPETITION?
Study their menus to see their pricing. Look for similarities and
differences between your prospective restaurant menu and theirs.
Collect as many menus as you can get your hands on.
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Stay flexible when you first open.
Don’t over invest in the printing of menus.
You may have to make changes
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THE LEATHER BOUND BOOK
Once regarded as the height of chic in top end restaurants, today, the
leather book seems a little tired and old fashioned .Nowadays they
are best suited for a country house or perhaps your wine list.
The chalkboard is great for gastro pubs and
neighbourhood restaurants as they create a
sense of homespun cooking. Make sure you
have an employee with clear handwriting.
Don’t use different colours, stick with white
and don’t actually use chalk, use chalk pens.
Chalkboards are also great for
THE LAMINATED MENU
Usually a one or a two panel menu (opens like a magazine). This type
of menu is very popular with restaurants with a large foot-fall as they
help to turn tables. They are great for sports bars, fastfood, casual
and family friendly restaurants. The advantages of this style is that
they are cheap to produce, easy to handle and offer lots of scope for
creativity. One disadvantage is that they can easily become tatty.
ONE-USE-ONLY PAPER MENUS
These have become very popular in recent years with restaurants
that have a relaxed atmosphere. They also often double as placemats
in canteen style restaurants. Paper menus allow you give a fresh
menu to every customer.
THE CLASSIC PAGE TURNER
These are still the most popular form of menu. They are great for
restaurants with a lot of dishes , but they can slow down decision
making. Make sure you divide it into clear sections.
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According to restaurant consultants interviewed by
Restaurants USA magazine, re-designing your menu
can improve your sales on average
from 2% to 10%
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Careful layout of your menu is very important. We know that most
customers are going to order an entrée when they open the menu,
so your goal is to ensure the customer sees the more profitable items
MOST VALUABLE REAL ESTATE
On a solo page layout, it’s a proven fact that the more profitable
items should be placed on top and bottom thirds of the page. On
two-panel (page) menus people most often look at the top
right-hand side first. On three-panel menus, people most often look
at the centre panel first, and then move counter clockwise. These
areas should be reserved for more profitable dishes since it is the
best place to catch, and retain, the reader‘s gaze.
Remember cheap, popular staples like a burger should be harder to
locate. The order in which dishes appear is also important. People
most often remember and buy the first two items or the last menu
item in each menu category. Place your menu items with the highest
gross profit in these spots.
Finally, do not fear white space as it allows the eyes to pause and rest.
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See the change of seasons as an oppertunity to
introduce spring, summer, autumn and winter menus.
Reflect the seasonal products
available and holiday eating habits
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Once you have your restaurant menu drafted, it‘s time to decide on
setting the prices for each dish.
In order to maximise your proofit it is important to understand the
psychology of pricing.
ABOVE £5? - ADD 95p
Since price increments of less than £1 don‘t change the perceived
value of a dish, add £0.95 to any item that’s available when it costs
more than £5. For example, since £12.50 and £12.95 have the same
perceived value, go with £12.95 to maximize your profits.
Avoid listing prices down the right-hand margin. This can result in
customer scanning down the list of prices and choosing the least
expensive items. It is much better to add the prices at the end of each
description inline with the body of the text and using the same font.
Removing the £ sign can further help the customer focus on the
product, not the price.
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If your customers have trouble pronouncing the names
of your menu items, number them.
Its much easier to correctly pronounce
“No. 9” than “Nicoise Salad”
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Your menu description should make a guest‘s mouth water. The
adjectives used to describe a dish can be as important as the names
of the ingredients themselves.
What would you rather eat
“garlic chicken” or “flame-grilled
chicken with garlic marinade”
Avoid making descriptions too long, a sentence or two is fine. The
names of your dishes should intrigue the customer. If they have
more questions, their server should be able to give them further
information about a dish or recommend a house favourite.
Incorporating local references and traceability can also help your
restaurant menu stand out. Galway Bay Oysters sound very inviting.
I was recently in a great little restaurant in Scotland that use
blackboards to display their daily fish specials and included the name
of the fishermen who had pulled in the catch!
Check out the glossary of food buzz words at the end hundreds of
scrumptious, yummy, heavenly, melt-in-the-mouth, indulgent and
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Enlist the talent of a local artist to design your menu
cover. Perhaps you could showcase a different artist
each time you reprint the menu.
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WHAT TO DO
• Offer a balance of unique dishes and old favourites
• Give personal recommendations
• Position side orders and add ons in a prominent position
• Promote new items and specials
• Choose a great typeface (check out dafont.com)
• Make the desserts sound like a must have treats
• Use table tents to promote the deserts menu
• Have high and low food costs for a reasonable profit margin.
• Highlight sharing dishes
These are often bought by couples on dates who are more
concerned with the experience than the price
• Include symbols and icons for healthy options and allergy free dishes
• Offer wine and beer to go with food dishes
• Always ensure that your menus are clean
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WHAT NOT TO DO
• Over-work dishes by using expensive and pretentious items
• Litter your menu with superfluous adjectives
• Add too many pictures or busy backgrounds
• Use clipart or similar images
• Use £, $ or € signs
• Have too many dishes
The optimum number of dishes in a category is between five and seven.
Too many dishes decrease the value of each item
• Have any spelling mistakes in the menu
• Make your menu too long
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Take advantage of your menu‘s power by including menu lingo that sells.
Below you will find 100‘s of foodie buzz words to help you write an inspired menu
Generous Portion of
On a bed of
Warm salad of
Pasta & Rice
Specify your pasta:
An assortment of
Perfect for dipping
Your choice of
Dressings / Sauces
A balsamic glaze
Blend of secret spices
Cooked to order
Flavoured with a hint
Signature BBQ sauce
With an extra drizzle
Soup & Sandwiches
A rich and creamy
For extra crunch
Fresh crusty bread
Our unique recipe
Scoop of Jersey cream
28 day aged
100% prime beef,
Aged just right
Black angus beef
Cooked to your liking
For an indulgent steak
Grilled to your liking
Skewered British Beef
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Top side of Succulent
Skewered Seared Juicy
Hand-carved to order
Our aged prime rib
Over a red hot grill to
seal in its bold flavour
Seared on a red hot
capture the full
Steak lover’s steak
Thick cut filet
Catch of the day
Sautéed in butter
Made to share
Our thinnest & lightest
From the heart of Italy
Thick and fluffy
A crunchy concoction
An all time favourite
An indulgent twist
A perfect combination
Have your cake & eat it!
Lashings of ice cream
Lavishly made with
Moist layers of
Naughty but nice
Shouts “eat me!”
Warning - addictive
Baked fresh daily
Straight from the oven
Adult free zone
Deep Sea Dippers
Just for kids
Made for dunking
Mini me portion
Served in Frosty Mugs
Strong and crisp
A versatile all-rounder
Bursting with flavour
Dark and luscious
Fresh and fruity
Fresh, zesty flavours
Packs a punch
Subtle and spicy
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