5 Steps on How to Create an Awesome Menu

5 Steps on How to Create an Awesome Menu

An effective menu can make the ultimate difference between a restaurant’s success and failure.  A great menu not only highlights your most expensive dishes, but also pulls your customer toward items that you are most proud of sharing. Designing a menu should should exhibit style yet simplicity, and ultimately help tell the story of your restaurant.

Follow these five easy steps below to ensure your restaurant maximizes revenue and produces satisfied customers:

Step 1: Create Your Pricing Strategy

Calculate any and all food costs before you go into organizing anything too deeply.  What wholesalers do you buy from, and at what cost do you get such items?  What are you paying your cooks to prepare your finished items? This is all essential to understanding how you should create pricing for your menu.  For items that cost more to produce (purchasing and kitchen combined) you should charge more. If you own a nicer restaurant or are taking a more upscale approach to things, you can charge even more per plate.  Any garnishes used in the final dish?  Those go into final pricing too.

The general rule is that food cost should be 30-35% of your total budget. For example, let’s say you buy a filet mignon medallion for $7, and the side of potatoes and roasted vegetables costs you $2.50.  You would charge around $27.15 in order for you to make profit off of the dish. The formula for this is as follows: Product cost/.35=Menu Price, or 9.50/.35=$27.15.  You can round up here to an even number ($27.50) – it’s shown that increments of $.25 work best.

Step 2: Create A System For Portion Control

Most successful restaurants have a well thought out system for portion control.  Both the kitchen and management knows exactly how much food is being used per plate.  For example, take the almighty filet mignon plate we suggested before.  What if you used approximately 2 roasted carrots per plate? You can take it into even more depth here: measuring meat portions, and buying pre-portioned food items. This can run from chicken breasts to dough, and can cost extra.

It’s up to you to decide if this extra cost is worth enabling better portion control and minimizing food waste.  Some of the best restaurants have always purchased pre-measured food items, and did not sacrifice quality in the process!

Step 3: Highlight Specials and Seasonal Dishes

This is where the real fun can begin and where you’re creativity is allowed full rein!  What is your restaurant known for?  If you’re not established yet, what do you want to be known for? If you haven’t created a theme or concept yet, brainstorm!

This is vital in the process of deciding what dishes you want to put on the menu that will promote your restaurant’s culture and create loyal, happy customers. Experiment and collaborate with your kitchen, and cultivate talents through this process. This is the point in menu engineering that is not only the most fun, but also a point that can make your restaurant stand out. Create a story through your dish, and allow your customers to get to know it.

Step 4: Organize Your Menu Layout Appropriately

It is important to take consumer psychology into mind when creating an effective menu.  Most people are overwhelmed when they have to choose from a wide array of options.  If you are a dine-in restaurant, limit your menu to three to four items per food category.  You can even limit your salad options to two if need be. Entrees should be kept to around three to four as well.  Many customers actually experience anxiety of the decision making process, and go to restaurants to have people suggest choices for them. Important note: This is when you can up-sell menu items.

If you are an online storefront, make your menu options clear, concise, and easy to read.  A drop down menu works well, or describing sides that come with a dish in the description works too.

When placing items on your physical menu, place you most expensive toward the top right corner.  Most people make up their minds within the first few seconds of glancing at a menu, and this top right corner is prime real estate.

Step 5: Choose a Color Scheme Within The Menu

Color makes the difference!  Did you know that blue and green stimulate calm and well-being?  This is certainly something to take into account when allowing your customer to make informed choices on menu items.  It is also shown in studies that red stimulates appetite, while yellow pulls in our attention.  This can be applied to a physical menu or online.  I’ve seen quite a few online restaurants that use yellow for their pricing/ordering buttons, and red fringe colors.

Use high quality pictures of your dishes.  Emphasis on quality here.  Take time out to have a photoshoot with the items you plan on displaying, with all sides and garnishes included.  This is another opportunity to get creative and collaborate.  Images trigger emotion, and this paired with an enticing description is sure to win.

About OrderMatic Corporation

At OrderMatic, we develop solutions that enhance the customer transactional experience in new and innovative ways. For over 60 years, we have provided turnkey contract manufacturing services nationwide. From exploring digital menu boards to using presell menus effectively, there are many ways to improve your restaurant’s efficiency even beyond best sales practices. Contact OrderMatic to discuss how you can enhance both your drive-thru and dine-in experience!