You and your team have invested countless hours perfecting your new restaurant menu. After all the hours of sacrifice, you have finally succeeded in crafting a lineup of dishes that reflect your establishment’s philosophy on food and the dining experience.
However, your job doesn’t end there.
Not just a list
A menu, literally speaking, refers to the list of food items that a restaurant serves. And sure, you can print out several copies of the menu or even post it online. You’ll probably get customers this way.
But you might also be wasting numerous opportunities.
First and foremost, your establishment’s menu is not only a list of the food you can readily offer guests but also an invaluable tool in educating them about the cuisine you serve. More importantly, it is also about the dining experience that you are promising them. This promise extends beyond the food; it involves the restaurant ambiance, entertainment, and even their interaction with your staff.
Menus are also useful branding tools that can communicate your unique vision and mission for your restaurant.
From a practical standpoint, a well-designed menu can help eliminate confusion on the part of the customer, be it related to a specific food item or the prices.
From the restaurant’s end, proper menu design can draw the customers’ attention to food items that provide you with the biggest profit margins.
Tips and tricks
How, exactly, can you achieve these benefits? Experts in menu design and branding utilize a few tricks that can help you achieve multiple business goals for your restaurant.
A menu is the perfect place to tell people about who you are and where the inspiration for your restaurant comes from.
Are you authentically Middle Eastern, serving up recipes that have been in the family for decades? Or maybe you’re working to bring together different flavors from all over the Far East?
Either way, your menu is a great place to interact with guests — educating, informing and entertaining through words, imagery and design that complement and build upon the theme you have created for your restaurant.
The use of color is a psychological element that has been used in many industries.
In menus, specific colors can prompt customers to take particular action. For example, the color orange has long been associated with movement and appetite. Using this color prominently on the pages of your menu can make customers crave more of your food.
Green, on the other hand, is usually associated with healthy fare like veggies.
Red draws the attention of customers. However, it should be used sparingly and strategically, highlighting specific dishes that you want to move faster.
What if there is a way to coax your establishment’s patrons to spend more money? There is.
Did you know that if you remove the currency symbol from the price of food items on the menu, your customers are likely to spend more? Spelling out the price can also get you the same effect. The reason behind these is that many customers do not associate the prices on the menu with real money.
Consider putting a “.95” on the prices of each of the items in your menu. This can make the food you sell and serve seem less expensive. This is an old trick which actually continues to work!
Harness the power of words to boost your sales. Compelling menu descriptions will not only educate guests about each food item. Done correctly, these descriptions can entice patrons to try new dishes as well.
Instead of using fancy words or superlatives, use simple descriptions that highlight the quality of the food and ingredients you serve.
You may also want to tap into the power of nostalgia by using phrases such as “like what your mom used to make,” “grandma’s” and “home cooking.”.
If you have several items listed within the same category, consider tweaking the order by which these appear on the menu.
Put the items that you want to sell most on top of the list. Psychologically-speaking, many people usually pick products that are on the uppermost and lowermost portions of the menu
No substitute for quality
The design of your restaurant menu is a vital element that can help you ensure the profitability and longevity of your establishment. Evaluate your menu or hire professionals to do this for you. With expert help, you may discover that your restaurant can earn more than it currently does.
However, an effectively-designed menu is no substitute for the quality of food, service, and ambiance that your restaurant offers. At the end of the day, these can make or break an establishment. Falter in any of these, and you risk complaints or even closure.
However, when you invest ample resources toward crafting your menu, you create an invaluable tool that can perform a diverse array of functions that will help your restaurant sell its products and enhance the customer experience.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stuart Harris is the Creative Director at Yellow, a Dubai branding agency, digital partner and advertising company working with progressive businesses to build bold, meaningful brands.