Let’s plan a menu!


Wow! What is the first thing you see when you sit down at the table in a restaurant? Besides the chair you sit on, the condiments set on the table, cutlery, and a napkin, you will probably be handed a menu by the wait staff. If you entered a fine dining restaurant, you might get a drink menu first. However, it’s still a menu!  Thus, THE MENU IS PERHAPS THE MOST critical factor in the overall success of a restaurant.

Only too often is the menu design left to the last minute when a new restaurant is being opened. Little or no money is budgeted adequately. Instead, a super expensive restaurant’s image might be tarnished when a flimsy paper, poorly designed, menu is offered.

The menu is the starting point for all planning and design of a restaurant. According to Pavesic, the author of the Restaurant Manager’s Pocket Handbook Menu Design, a well-designed menu:

(1) Serves as an effective communication, marketing, and cost-control tool.

(2) Emphasizes what the customer wants and what the restaurant prepares and serves best.

(3) Obtains the check average required to realize sales goals and bottom-line return.

(4) Utilizes staff and equipment in an efficient manner, and

(5)  Leads to more accurate forecasting of the menu sales mix.

Menu psychology is something everyone starting a restaurant needs to know. If you provide a customer with a menu that that has too many items to choose from, your customer may be unable to decide what to order. As well, you need to consider how your kitchen staff will handle  the number of items offered on your menu. If too many, the chef may run short of various menu items because they could not keep enough fresh stock on-hand.  Then your wait staff will be unable to fill customer orders. Then, your restaurant will have fewer repeat customers. Overall, if you have too many items on your menu, eventually you might not have fresh produce or products to serve.

Colorful menu designs can be a great asset to have. Graphic artists can work with the restaurant owners, often includes the chef, to create an enticing menu. So, having fewer items logically printed in order of eating, such as appetizer printed before the entrees and deserts, can help achieve success!

Food cost, quality control, and menu design all help to make a restaurant successful. The placement of items that can generate your desired check average is of great importance too.

After spending a few years working in marketing, I gained an appreciation of what is important to make your business a success. Where marketing has the “”four P’s”, consisting of Promotion, Place, Price, and Product. Pavisic created the “Seven P’s” of menu design. These are as follows:

(1)  Purchase price

(2) Portioning/packaging

(3) Positioning

(4) Promotion

(5) Product

(6) Price

(7) Place

Just remember, if you want to attract more children consider having a separate children’s menu. All the same “P’s” apply!  Enjoy….

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