- Be original and unique, but not out of touch.
Your menu should offer a balance between the unique items you want to serve and enough classic dishes to satisfy all palates. Let’s use the burger for example. Offer it in the traditional ways, plain and cheeseburger, and then offer it topped with ingredients that fit your theme.
- Make sure your menu is versatile
The golden rule is any menu ingredient should exist in at least 3 menu items. For instance, if you serve shrimp, you will want an appetizer, an entrée and maybe a soup or salad that uses this ingredient. By having it in more than one menu item you ensure that it gets ordered so that it rotates out and will always be fresh, but you’re also minimizing the number of ingredients you must carry reducing your food cost.
- Balance the Food Costs
Quality should be the number one objective; you can have high quality ingredients though and keep costs balance if you have ingredients that are lesser expensive. The goal should be to have 25% of higher end menu ingredients and the balance of your ingredients in the moderate to economical range.
- Ease of preparation
When your kitchen is busy on a Friday night, having time consuming and hard to make menu items will be grueling for your staff and ripple into your dining room with long wait times. Make sure your menu items are either fast and easy to prepare on the spot (sauté, grill, wok, etc.) or hold well if made ahead of time and can be reheated quickly. (prime rib, pasta, tamale pie)
- Easy to read format
Using too many font choices, too busy a font choice, too much information or long descriptions using culinary jargon most people don't know made the page too busy. Keep your menu clean, simple and easy to read. Less is better. Keep the descriptions short and use sizzle words like spicy, steamy and fragrant.
- Make your menu a manageable size
You have a certain amount of space in your kitchen. This space is for cooking, prepping and plating, hot hold, cold storage and dry storage. What should be kept in mind when designing the menu and adding menu items is if there isn’t enough room to make the dish, it’s going to get awkward.
- Know when to update
This doesn’t need to happen with every trend, but a seasonal review of what items are selling and what isn’t is always good. After a year of analysis, you can update for the coming season. You don’t need to rewrite the whole menu, but changing out items that don’t sell often with something new will freshen your menu and attract attention.
- Special Menus and Menu Specials
Special Menus are a great way to handle larger volume during busy predictable holidays like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or a known local event in your area. Pre-fixed menus are the most popular and honestly the smartest choice for this. A pre-fixed menu can make your higher volume day seamless and easy. It benefits the front of house with easy ordering and the back of house become a production line. The result is fast and accurate service, making your restaurant the place to be and turning tables with ease.
Menu Specials are a great way to test new dishes you’re are thinking about adding or swapping. They will keep your menu intriguing and can also be used to sell ingredients that need to be rotated out before they expire.
- Culture and tone
Your menu should reflect the culture, theme and tone of your restaurant. Great graphics, pictures and clean clear font that has a soft impression of your culture and theme will go a long way in setting the tone for what your customers can expect.
- Proof-read your menu
Of course, use spell check and grammar check when typing your menu, but also get a second or third pair of eyes to read it. We often read right over errors because our brains will see what we anticipate something to be not what it is.