The importance of effective menu design

The importance of effective menu design

ArticlesPosted on 20th August 2013

The menu may well be the most important ingredient in a restaurant's success. So just how much time and effort have you spent on getting yours right?

The importance of effective menu design

There are some simple rules that all menus should follow. Ultimately, it must follow the concept of your restaurant. Your customers will have expectations of your restaurant before they arrive and so the menu must be based on what they are likely to expect (not just what you want on it). Not only should the menu be based on these expectations, but it should strive to exceed them.

After you have ascertained your customers’ expectations, there are various other considerations that must be taken in to account. The dishes themselves need to display a variety of taste, temperature and complexity; with suitable presentation and nutritional content, use of varied cooking methods, balanced textures, consistency, and great flavours. Considerations over time and seasonality should also be made. These aspects will be governed by various physical factors such as the facilities available, skills of the chefs, product availability and financial considerations.

Setting the right price is critical to the long-term success of your menu and restaurant. Not only do you have to select the best price to ensure profitability, but you also need to ensure it contributes to your customers overall meal experience. Customers will expect to receive value for money on the quality or size of their meal. There are various ways prices can be set, from relating to competitors through to basing it on a targeted food cost percentage. Whichever route is taken, the main considerations should be that your prices are realistic, competitive and in line with your reputation and/or marketing strategy.

Once your dishes and prices are decided, the menu they are presented upon also has an impact upon success. Customers form expectations of food prior to eating and this can have a direct effect on how their senses evaluate a dish. Therefore, using effective descriptive language can help to shape perceptions and introduce new foods in an appealing manner. Suitable descriptions may include the place of origin, type of breed, method of sourcing etc. The presentation of the menu sets the theme and should fit with the overall restaurant concept. Ease of use, readability and being easy to hold are important criteria. The layout of menu items should be interlinked with how customers read the menu. Customers tend to read menus the same way, usually starting at the top right of a double page menu, followed by bottom right, then top left, and finally bottom left. This thought process should be considered when deciding where to put your dishes, such as the profitable ones that you want to promote.

Don’t rest on your laurels once you’ve created your menu. A proactive approach to menu development should always be maintained. By monitoring your sales performance and using menu engineering to work out your ‘Star’ dishes (popular and profitable) from your ‘Dogs’ (unpopular and unprofitable), you can modify ingredients and prices to ensure your menu really is one of the key ingredients to your restaurants success.

If you would like further support in making your menu the best it can be, get in touch to discuss our menu development services.

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