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How To Create A Menu For Your New Restaurant

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Your restaurant’s menu is one of its most defining factors. After all, the food sold at your restaurant is one of the main reasons customers select your spot. Creating a restaurant menu isn’t as simple as thinking up a few good dishes. Both creating and designing a brand new menu takes plenty of planning and strategic thinking. You’ll have to consider your market, branding, customer behavior, and more.

Read further for tips on creating a menu that best reflects your restaurant and helps you boost sales. 

First, Food

The quality of a good restaurant menu has a lot to do with design and marketing tactics, but the meat and potatoes of a menu are, well, the meat and potatoes. The specific dishes sold at your restaurant are among the most important aspects of your restaurant’s identity, so coming up with a list of menu items should be your first step. 

Consider your restaurant’s concept when deciding the type of cuisine you’ll sell and the specific dishes you’ll offer. Do you want diners to choose your spot to have long, social meals with several courses, or would you like your restaurant to function as a casual eatery with a quick table turnaround time? Do you want customers to feel they’re in an elegant, exclusive establishment, or would you like to provide a welcoming, laid-back atmosphere? These questions will help you make various decisions about your menu, like how many items you’ll offer, how small or large entrees will be, how much they’ll cost, and more.

The food featured on your restaurant’s menu will greatly influence your target audience, so deciding on pricing is something you’ll probably want to do as you decide on menu items — and don’t forget to include the prices on your menu. Likewise, while you’ve got your culinary creativity flowing, don’t forget to consider things like food allergies, special accommodations, and trends within your target audiences like vegan or gluten-free diets. 

Design Strategically

Once you’re all set with a solid list of menu items, it’s time to start designing your menu! With the proper design tips in mind, you can create a menu that does more than just tell people what they can order. A strategically-designed menu can make your restaurant stand out in customers’ minds and boost your sales.

Stay on Brand.

Establishing a new business, be it a restaurant or a clothing store, requires the development of a brand identity. As a new restaurant, your brand identity helps show customers what experience they can expect from dining at your spot. Your restaurant’s brand, including its unique value, mission, atmosphere, voice, and audience, should be identifiable in your restaurant’s physical space, website and social pages, and menu.

Design your restaurant’s menu using brand colors and fonts. Additionally, keep your brand voice consistent as you create menu item names and descriptions. If you’ve got a slogan or catchphrase, include it on the menu. The persona portrayed inside your restaurant and on your restaurant’s social media pages should be the same as the one on your menu.

Keep it Simple.

You can get creative with your branding and designs so long as you create an easy-to-read layout for your restaurant’s menu. First, organize the dishes in a sensible way. A good rule of thumb is to keep appetizers near the top of your menu and desserts near the bottom — organizing the menu in a way that reflects how most people order.

Likewise, use lots of white space. Try not to jumble everything into a big, wordy blob that makes it hard to distinguish separate dishes or sections. When you look at your restaurant menu, ask yourself if it’s easy to read. Use sensible categories that make things simple to find, like separate sections for pasta dishes, meat-based entrees, fish-based entrees, salads, etc. A confusing or hard-to-read menu can deter customers and negatively affect service. If you’re struggling to design a quality layout, try using a menu template.

Make it Profitable.

When done right, a menu can actually help you boost sales. Use elements of design like bright pops of color, high-quality photos, or eye-catching graphics to highlight your most profitable menu items. 

Consider labeling certain dishes as “signature” dishes to make them more desirable to customers. Moreover, include extras like add-ons or premium side dishes in an optimal spot on your menu to encourage customers to add a few extra bucks to their bill.

Create Multiple Menus

Woohoo, you’ve finally completed your menu design! But you’re not done just yet. To create the best experience for your customers, you’ll need to ensure you have a few versions of your restaurant’s menu.

Takeout Menus.

Your restaurant’s takeout menu might not necessarily duplicate the regular menu. For an optimal takeout experience, you might want to include only items from your menu that will travel well and maintain their quality after long periods of time in takeout containers. Additionally, there may be different information on takeout menus, especially regarding food allergies and modifiable dishes. 

Finally, pricing might be different for takeout. Consider whether or not all of your menu items are profitable as takeout meals, or consider hiking the prices a bit to keep takeout profitable, especially if delivery is involved.

Mobile-Friendly Menus

It’s 2022, and if you don’t have a mobile-friendly version of your menu readily available for customers, you’re probably missing out on a lot of business! A huge percentage of potential customers find your restaurant online, whether, through Yelp, social media, or online advertisements, and one of the first things they’ll want to see is your menu.

It’s important to have an online version of your menu and to have it be accessible and mobile-friendly. Ideally, you should use a downloadable PDF menu template to do this. Link these menus on all of your social media accounts and websites. You can also use QR codes that link to your menu or interactive ordering forms printed on eye-catching table tents inside your restaurant so that customers don’t have to search online.

Your Restaurant Menu is Your Key to Success

There’s a lot to be done when you first open a restaurant but don’t downplay the importance of your menu. From the actual dishes you sell to the design of the physical menu, take the time to plan and strategize each and every detail. A restaurant menu should promote your brand, create a pleasant customer experience, and even help you maintain your profits. Use these tips to create your menu, and don’t forget to update it as time progresses, keeping it optimized for your customer base and business strategy.