Creating a Profitable Restaurant Menu Design - 2 Women Looking at the Menu
Creating a Profitable Restaurant Menu Design - 2 Women Looking at the Menu

The menu is one of the best marketing tools that a restaurant has at its disposal. Yet this remains a secret of a few successful restaurants. When customers walk in, the menu is the first actual interaction they will have with your restaurant. Many establishments offer generic, fold-out menus with a simple list of the dishes that they serve. This may indeed save you some money on printing, but that’s about the only favour such a menu will ever do you.

Why is a menu important for restaurants?

Managers in Dubai and even in Saudi have, however, been getting smarter over the years and have jumped off that wagon. As a result, having a cool restaurant menu design is quickly becoming the norm. They realise that the benefits of a creative and unique menu cannot be understated.

First, it is the only literature your customers are guaranteed to read once they walk into your establishment. A good menu communicates effectively to your customers. It will give all the relevant information they need to make decisions most profitable to you and your restaurant. Superb restaurant menu design must also complement the restaurant’s cuisine and it is aesthetic, drawing the customer deeper into the experience. A menu of substance highlights the variety of food offered in a simple yet elegant way. It strives to cater to all your customers’ needs and wants.  Investing in a good restaurant menu design that works for you and markets your restaurant should be every manager’s priority.

Why so many restaurant menus are poorly designed?

You may be wondering; menus can’t be that big of a deal, right? Well, many establishments have missed out on new clients and have even lost customers because their restaurant menu design was lacking on various fronts. Yes, you heard that right. They crashed and burned just because of a piece of paper. It’s a sad fact that a lot of managers have little to no knowledge about food menu design. The procedure has for a long time been simple; write up a list, print it, fold it, laminate it, slap it on a table and you are done! There’s your menu. Many try to design the menus themselves or outsource to unskilled labour. A lot of managers are also unaware of the options one has when it comes to menu design. Instead of using your home printer, you could seek the services of a restaurant design company.

For those whose budgets are a little tighter, the internet is flushed with creative menu design templates. It’s preferable, though, to hire a professional. Templates downloaded from the internet don’t always offer the best results. Menus, like any other literature, can be used to play on people’s psychology. Unfortunately, many managers haven’t realised that yet. This could be attributed to the fact that they see restaurants as just food making ventures and nothing else. They sell food, so they focus only on the food they make.

Successful establishments invest in creating an experience for their customers. To do this, they have to consider many factors, not just the food. They tailor all their services to fit the aesthetic they chose. The menu is a significant component of the restaurant experience that has sadly been ignored and overlooked by many managers.  By focusing on the food and not the experience, many restaurants have doomed themselves to lower traffic and reduced profits and eventual closure.

What’s the key to writing a good restaurant menu?

Ignorance can be an excuse for only so long, as more and more restaurants invest in restaurant consulting firms.

The investment is worth it, as the expertise you gain is invaluable, especially for those who are just starting. The menu they write can make or break their restaurants. Therefore it’s essential to be aware of what makes a menu great.

Development of Franchise Operational Manuals

1.   Simplicity

You can never go wrong with simple. A menu with a simple layout will do much more than a jumbled up and cluttered menu. Complicated in your face designs will be hard to decipher and will prevent customers from accessing all the information given. They are likely to choose the first dish they see that they like. Ideally, you want your menu to direct your customers to the pricier items. A cluttered menu will not communicate this need effectively. To avoid confusing your customers, invest in a simple layout that showcases all the dishes you offer simply and clearly.

2. Personalise Your Menu

People can be very different, with diverse tastes and preferences. Your menu ought to reflect this state of the market. If you serve a diverse range of dishes, you definitely shouldn’t have only one menu. First, cramming all your dishes into one menu will leave it either too cluttered or too bulky. Customers rarely read bulky menus in their entirety, and menus full of clatter aren’t a joy to read. Having different menus on hand is the way to go. For instance, you could have children’s menus, vegetarian menus, and dessert menus. Not only does this show customers that you care about their preferences, but it adds just a touch of class. Personalising your menu will also attract clients whose needs weren’t being met by other restaurants.

3. How readable is your menu

Readability will significantly affect how your menu fares. Various things have to be considered; the font, colour and size. You need to be knowledgeable about the clientele you aim to serve. Then the restaurant menu design can be tailored to suit them. Old folks, for instance, will require larger and darker font for them to read easily. A children’s menu could also employ large playful fonts and colours.

It’s all about knowing your clients. You should also be aware of how you place any imagery and how it affects the font. Does this picture wash out the words? Do they distract the eye from the font? These are all factors that should be considered. Customers will appreciate an easy-to-read menu.

4. Use Colour to Your Advantage

The impact that colour has on perception cannot be ignored. First and foremost, the colour scheme you choose should complement the restaurant’s aesthetic. A fast-food menu could have happy, vibrant colours against a light background with large, dark fonts. If you run a fancy place, grey muted colours may be the right choice, depending on the decor. Different colours are also associated with different feelings, and management should factor that in their design. Green, for instance, represents freshness, while blue denoted trust. Management should use colours that bring out positive feelings as customers are more likely to buy if in a good mood. Colours can also have different meanings based on geographical location. A little research into what colours in your region are about positivity could help you design a killer menu.

5. Creative and Colourful Use of Words

Writing can either be generic and boring or descriptive and colourful. There’s an entire industry devoted to selling products through writing, and restaurateurs could learn a thing or two. Instead of listing your dishes generically in a list, use descriptive words that make the mind conjure up images. They should make your dishes seem as delicious and mouthwatering as possible. Use fiery instead of spicy. Use crispy instead of fried. These descriptors create an image in the customer’s mind. They have to be shaking with anticipation when they finally place their orders. Using such descriptive words will get your customers’ juices flowing, and chances are they will order something they never intended to. However, avoid making claims such as ‘best coffee in town’ as they cannot be backed. Besides, customers will be disappointed if you cannot deliver the quality you claim to produce.

6. Strategic Use of Pictures

Restaurant Menu Design with Food Images

Pictures capture the mind in a way nothing else can. After customising your menu and employing a suitable colour and font scheme, it’s now time to add in some visual aids. First, one mistake you should avoid is using stock photos. It might confuse when the customers are served a meal different from the one they ordered. It’s better to take pictures of the dishes prepared in your kitchen. When used effectively, pictures can be a great way to whet the appetite and get those salivary glands working overtime. To sell the image correctly, use pictures of happy, satisfied customers, overflowing plates (depending on your portions) and busy servers. When the customer studies the menu, his senses should be assaulted by images of delicious meals and content customers. You should also watch how the photos are placed. They shouldn’t wash out any writings, overshadow them, or cover them.

7. Post a Menu Outside

Many restaurants do not do it, but having a menu outside is a great marketing strategy. Spoiled for choice in this modern age, customers sometimes find it hard to pick a restaurant to eat. Determining if one is within your budget range is difficult from outside. No one wants the embarrassment of being presented cheques they cannot pay. Attracting these clients to your establishment should be a priority as they are like free agents. Posting a menu outside saves them the hassle of deciding. This is especially true for tourists or people who’ve just moved. You can have a menu with a few important meals, like breakfast and dinner with their prices.  Someone new in town is more likely to enter a restaurant with a menu outside.

8. Watch Your Sentence Structure

The average restaurant going person is hungry and barely has time to read through your menu. Sentence structure can affect how and what a customer reads when he picks it up. Customers tend to gloss over long sentences without reading them. So long descriptive texts about your cuisine will most likely go unread. Shorter sentences, however, draw the eye. Use this and use short descriptive sentences that are easy to read. Another tactic is using several shorter sentences then adding a long one. The eye is automatically drawn to it. Thus the customer receives all the information as intended.

9. Avoid Currency Signs

Ideally, a good restaurant menu design should nudge the customers towards the pricier dishes. The menu should focus as much as possible on the experience the restaurant offers while downplaying the cost of said experience. People can spend a lot of money in one sitting only if they are not constantly reminded of the fact. It’s a sort of voluntary blindness they adopt. Currency signs work contrary to that. They call out and draw the customer’s attention to the price. The last thing you want as a manager is customers constantly rethinking their purchases because the meals seem expensive. That’s why it is advisable to avoid currency signs while designing your menu.

10. Divide the Menu

Give the menu some coherence. There’s a big difference between a menu cluttered with dishes in no coherent order and a menu whose dishes are divided sequentially. You could have a breakfast section, an appetizer section, and the full course section. This makes it easier for customers to leaf through the menu and pick whatever they want. It also increases the chances of them ordering something they didn’t originally intend to. Dividing your menu will increase the efficiency of restaurant operations, especially if you offer a wide selection of dishes.

11. Emphasize Your Most Profitable Dishes

An effective restaurant menu design would make its most profitable cuisines as visible as possible. While a lot of people walk into a restaurant with a budget in mind, it is easy to sway them. This is done by drawing the customer’s attention to the dish in question. You could use photos, highlighted text or a bold border. All these techniques serve to draw the eye and keep the customer’s attention there.

What makes a good menu?

Restaurant menu design inspiration can be hard to come by. Many managers and owners are just making it up as they go along. Designing an effective menu will not be hard if the above factors are considered during the process. One wonders, though, what makes a menu effective? What makes this menu better than that menu? That’s a good question. Knowing the answer to this will help managers determine whether they have world-class menus or if it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

So, what makes a good menu? Let’s discuss:

1.   Speed

An effective menu doesn’t just consider the front of the house operations. It encompasses all restaurant operations, including the back of the house operations. A good menu has dishes that can be prepared quickly and efficiently to ensure quick service. What about the ingredients? The menu considers which ingredients come already prepped, and which ones have to be prepped on site. A good menu prizes speed and ensures all customers’ needs are met as quickly as possible.

2. High-Quality Food

Food Images of The Roost Dubai - F&B Consultancy Glee Hospitality

It goes without saying that food of high quality speaks of a good menu. Speed and quality go together. Fast delivery and quality product.  A good menu sets a high standard and strives to maintain it. Plus, continually delivering high quality builds a reputation and increases the number of regulars a restaurant enjoys.

3. Complementing the restaurant

A good menu complements the restaurant’s aesthetic and decor. It conforms to the theme of the restaurant. The colour complement the restaurant’s, and the food is in line with the restaurant’s clientèle.

4. Variety

It offers a variety of dishes to cater to its customers’ diverse tastes. A good menu offers something for everyone.

5. Usefulness

A useful menu keeps track of seasonal foods and makes them when they are available. It knows how to utilise seasonal ingredients and incorporate them into the menu.

6. Personalised design

Top-notch restaurant menu design prizes simplicity and readability over everything else. It is effortless to read, the layout is attractive and straightforward, and it does what it’s intended to do: get you to buy delicious meals.

Next Step to Getting that Profitable Restaurant Menu Design

It is clear that the menu is the lifeline of a restaurant. The menu you design will determine your success or failure in the industry. It may seem like a daunting task, designing a fresh and unique menu that shows what you have to offer most brilliantly, and it is. Nothing worth having is ever easy. You don’t have to climb that mountain by your side. Glee Hospitality will be your companion. With over 50 years of combined experience, Glee will offer you all the expertise and the tools you will need to launch your restaurant and reap in the rewards. Contact us for advice on how to take your restaurant to the next level.