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6 Things You Need to Know to Create an Awesome Restaurant Menu

An awesome restaurant menu helps you to make the best first impression

Designing a restaurant menu can look deceptively simple and easy but in reality, it can be quite a difficult task. Additionally, you cannot just list down the food you make. The menu is one of the first things that a customer will be looking at. It has to be appealing, eye-catching and be enticing enough to make one want to order the meal.

Your dishes may be stunning but how they are presented in print form in the menu will make the biggest impact. Moreover, a great menu is not just a list of all the dishes. It can be considered as a marketing or sales tool. That is why you should spend some time and energy in designing the perfect one for your place.

Before you start though, the following are a few things that you should know and take into consideration when you’re trying to create an awesome restaurant menu. 

1. Check Out What the Competition is Offering

It’s a good idea to check out the menus that your competition is offering and see what works for them. This doesn’t mean that you don’t just start to look at what they are offering but, also take a closer look at the way they are presenting their menu.

Take inspiration and look at the ideas that they are incorporating. Look at their pricing, their cuisines as well as the themes that they are highlighting in the menu. At the end of the day, you want to design a menu which can go head-to-head against the one your competition has and win.

This doesn’t mean that you rip-off their ideas. This little exercise is only to show you an idea regarding what kind of menus are already out there. Once you have an idea, you can then begin to figure out how you can emulate what they are doing. 

Check this blog post from Toast on how to Make Your Menu a Money-Maker. 

2. Make it Manageable

Focus on the Readability

When designing a menu, always remember that less is more. A smaller menu that is able to deliver flavourful dishes will be more appreciated than a vast menu which can leave consumers confused and your kitchen staff struggling.

It is a good idea to pick out a few main entrees and design your starters and desserts around them. If you feel like you have more dishes to offer, how about starting a rotating menu? On certain days of the week, you can have a certain menu to follow or have a specific lunch and dinner menu.

This ensures that every day, your staff doesn’t have to be ready to make all the dishes you listed on a vast menu. A more manageable one also ensures that you are able to order ingredients appropriately and as needed

3. Focus on the Readability

When you are designing the menu, make sure to focus on the readability of the text. Sure, you might find one font type to be more aesthetically pleasing but, always make sure that it is legible. You don’t want your consumers to try to decipher what is written.

Neat, readable font is much better for readability. Fancy or complicated type font should only be applied to the front cover of the menu. Additionally, make sure that small font types are also readable. Picking the perfect size is necessary for readability as well.

It is a good idea to print out a mock menu with the font and have different members of your staff or team read it. Ask them how difficult or easy it was to navigate through the menu. Consider their feedback and make any necessary changes to the menu. Moreover, always remember to proofread your menu – it is supposed to be chicken parmesan, not chicken permission. 

4. Make the Content Creative

It is a good idea to have some fun with your menu’s content and give your dishes some new and fun names. Add a quirky line or two as a description to make your menu more humorous and fun to read. You can also make your dishes sound more refined with some creative writing.

This can make a huge difference in your overall appeal. You might even find diners trying out dishes that they previously skipped over. Even adding a small description underneath the dish’s name can go a long way in helping your diners pick a dish.

If you’re unable to do this on your own, consider hiring a professional copywriter who can spruce up the content and inject it with enough creativity to make your dishes more appealing.

Here are the restaurant marketing strategies you must know.  

5. Highlight What Your Specials Are

When you’re offering specials, make sure to always highlight them or make a menu separately for them. Remember that on special occasions such as mother’s day, father’s day, valentine’s day, St. Patrick’s day and more, people do expect to see themed dishes and set menus that are designed with this aspect in mind.

Make sure to have separate menus available for these. If you’re not interested in investing a lot of money in this aspect, just get a chalkboard menu. All you have to do is take a chalk pen and write down whatever is the special, not just for these occasions but also for the day.

Then, when you have to switch things up, just wipe away the chalk and write down the new specials. Chalk art can also be a great way to spruce up the place, make your specials eye-catching and be very presentable as well. Moreover, when picking your special for the day, keep an eye on inventory. The dish should always be one for which you have enough ingredients. 

6. Be Honest in Your Menu

Be Honest in Your Menu

Yes, more people are looking for menus that are organic, have locally sourced foods, grass-fed proteins, vegan options, lactose-free and gluten-free dishes but, don’t list these down if you do not have to offer them. Always be honest about the dishes you are offering.

Make sure that you are not just using the labels mentioned above as buzzwords, otherwise, it can be seen as false advertising. Moreover, some people have a genuine gluten allergy and lactose intolerance. If they dine at your restaurant and you do not actually offer gluten-free or lactose-free dishes, you can face a personal injury lawsuit as well as be fined for false advertising.

By focusing on these tips, you can easily create an awesome restaurant menu that can get your more diners and also make you stand out from the rest of the competition. 

Related Blog: A Guide To Using Influencer Marketing For Your Restaurant and Why You Should Never Ignore A Marketing Budget For Your Restaurant

New eBook Reveals How To Successfully Open A Restaurant… Free E-Book!


About the Author

Massimo’s career has grown up through the restaurant world, starting as a waiter through to high-end restaurant openings within an operational management capacity. This depth of experience has allowed him to understand the business from both a guest’s needs to what a team needs, giving him the benefit of an all-rounded view and approach to problem solving.