How to design a menu for a restaurant for success

When you design the menu for your restaurant there are a number of things that we think that is good to keep in mind. Small details can help the success of your restaurant.

The menu by itself is just a part of what your clients will experience when visiting your place of business. If you are interested in learning more about what makes a restaurant where clients have a delightful experience, please click on this link

  • Style of the menu
  • Who is the menu for
  • Is it Dine In or Take Out or online?
  • Coherent experience in print - online
  • Do you want clients to choose a variety of options or do you want to limit the selection?
  • If the clients saw images of your food, would they be more attracted to your food?
  • Which stock do you print the menu on? Cheap paper? Expensive paper? Good printing quality, bad?

Question #1 - What do we want our clients to order?

Answer #1: We suggest that you focus on the following:

  • Profitable Items: We want them to order the most profitable and popular items
  • New Items: We want our clients to find additional items that they might have not tried yet, and where those items are still profitable for our business.

Question #2 - What to display more prominently in your menu?

Answer #2 = You should emphasize on your popular and profitable items in Your Menu: This concept should determine how you organize your menu. The answer to this is not just related to math, but to the customer base as well

Most restaurateurs will usually think in categories such as chicken, fish, entrees, etc. where popular and profitable items are mixed up with items that are not. By doing that, the menu becomes cluttered and our clients could have a harder time deciding, and their decision might be to go with an item that is not helping us.

Excercise: Determine which products are profitable and popular, which are not. Try to organize your food choices in this way:

  • For each item that you offer, find the bucket that best fits that item: There are 3 buckets. Write on sticky notes all of your items and place them in the proper bucket.
  • PROFITABLE AND POPULAR MENU ITEMS: These are our golden items! We should be able to identify them quite easily.

    picture of a bucket that is identified with a label that reads “BIG PROFIT + POPULAR”. There is a sticky note inside showing what type of information to collect in this bucket

  • ITEMS WHERE THERE IS NO MONEY AND NOBODY ORDERS: Do the same and look for the ones that you barely sell and become expensive and time consuming or prepare. We usually know which ones these are but we might have an emotional attachment to them. If unsure, do an honest calculation of costs of ingredients, difficulty and preparation times.

    picture of a bucket that is identified with a label that reads “NO PROFIT + EXPENSIVE”. There is a sticky note inside showing what type of information to collect in this bucket

  • ITEMS WHERE PROFIT CAN BE INCREASED: There are always a number of items that we sell where we don’t lose money but we don’t really make any money either. Sometimes, if we were a bit creative, we might be able to bundle items, or combine them and create an item that is more desirable and makes us more money! Eg: Creating sampler options, adding soup and salad to other items.

    picture of a bucket that is identified with a label that reads “INCREASE PROFIT”. There is a sticky note inside showing that the items in this bucket are items that can become more profitable to resturants.

Question #3 - How do we design the menu?

Answer#3.1 - Placement: Decide what goes where in the menu.

In the following illustration we represent the areas that visually attract customers and patrons. The top area is the area where the eye looks at first, while the bottom top is usually the area where people look the least.

illustration of a menu where there is a circle showing the area that becomes more visible to people and it also shows the areas that are more difficult for people to see.

Answer#3.2 - Highlight items that you want to sell

There are different ways of doing it. In the example shown in this picture, we like how they bring attention to the category and there is an image supporting the category. On other occasions it can be done with color blocks highlighting a specific selection, trying to bring attention to it.

picture of a menu in real life where the category is highlighted and there is a reinforcement with a beautiful picture

Answer#3.3 - Use nice pictures

No stock photography will resemble your own food. It is best to hire a local photographer to have a photoshoot session where lots of pictures can be shot and used both for menus, website and social media. ColorCopiesUSA offers the service of food photography in South Florida

Question #4 - Is there an ideal number of items per category?

Answer#4 - Number of items: There are many suggestions. You want to have enough options to satisfy the taste of your clients, but not as many so that the client becomes confused and resorts to their “safe meal” Example: As a quick illustration, think of IN-N-Out menus’ selection board: I’m sure that you’ll agree that it’s simple and with limited options.

menu board showing a limited number of items offered in a single category. Fewer items makes the selection process easier for clients.

Most of us, human beings, have difficulty making decisions.

If within a single category there are too many options, we might not be willing to put the effort to decide which one we prefer.

Harvard Business Review published in 2006’s issue this article explaining what psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper studied. https://hbr.org/2006/06/more-isnt-always-better Through testing they found out that people are less likely to buy if there are “too many options”. When ordering food for take-out, the effort required to place the order confuses the client and could affect the use of time of your employees. It is called “Paradox of Choice”

Question #5 - How should I describe the food items listed in the menu of your restaurant?

Answer#5 - Food description: It is always a good idea to describe the food. Don’t limit yourself to a list of items. We suggest that you make it build it as if a chef was describing the food in one of those cooking shows, with language that creates desire and enthusiasm.

A good description of the food items in the menu can certainly increase sales of food items that would otherwise remain unnoticed by your clients.

ColorCopiesUSA offers the following services to support your creation of a menu that can increase sales: Menu design, Menu printing, and direct mailing

If you’d like to consider ordering menus for your restaurant, check this product page Menus and Menus for Mailing. We can help you to find the right product for your printing project.

Call us at 1-877-421-0668 with any inquiries that you might have.