How to Create and Design a Menu
Becoming part of the restaurant industry is very rewarding. You get to create a new and unique dining experience for locals. If you’re in the midst of bringing your business to life, you probably have thought about how to start making a menu. Whether your fellow patron is sitting down for a delicious meal or browsing your online menu, your menu should be informative, easy to read, appealing to the eyes, and professional. Here’s how to complete the next chapter of your upcoming business before its doors open to the public.
- Write Down Your Menu Items
First things first, you’ll want to make a complete list of what you intend to serve. You can break this down however you see fit (ex. breakfast, lunch, dinner, specials, desserts, and beverages.) Don’t be afraid to get specific as far as ingredients and nutritional information goes. Depending on where you reside, it may be mandatory to include how many calories are in each menu item. You can record your list on a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. It’s best to keep your list digital so that you can make changes over time. In addition, be mindful to how many menu items you plan to add. Compile a reasonable amount that won’t be too strenuous on your chefs.
- Building Your Menu
There are a few programs and websites that will let you create a menu, such as:
If you need to, you can always draw out a rough sketch of how you want your menu to look. Consider what kind of layout and size you want to use. It should be able to fit all your menu items without appearing cramped. The alignment of your text and photos doesn’t necessarily have to conform to usual menus. If you find a way to make your menu stand out, even better. Play around with the endless possibilities and try to find something that fits with the theme of your establishment. Aside from print, it’s also a good idea to look into making an online menu for your website. You can do so using:
- Designing Your Menu
This is the fun part; you get to decide how you want your menu to look, from color scheme to font! Give you signature dishes some individuality by giving them names. For example, a Hawaiian-styled burger could be called “The Big Kahuna” or a vegetarian pizza could be called “Veggie Delight.” In addition to the menu items, include high-resolution pictures of your food so you can give your customers a visual on their dining options. Be mindful of your font style and size. If you need to squint to read it, you probably need to increase the size and/or boldness. If you need any creative insight, you could talk to staff members or hire a graphic designer.
- Calculate Costs and Prices
It’s important to be honest with your customers, ensuring that they aren’t being overcharged. It’s also important to be honest with yourself so that you aren’t undercharging and missing out on sales. Using your spreadsheet, update your prices accordingly based on your gross margins and markup up percentages. Then you can adjust the prices to maximize your profits. Another thing to keep in mind is the average income of the residents in your area. If you’re charging $40.00 for a dish and most people can only spend $20.00, you’ll have to change the price to make it more affordable.
Once your menu has been edited and proofread, with prices included, send it to a professional printing company so they can print your desired copies. Places like Staples provide printing services. Talk to your management team as to how many copies will be sufficient. It’s ideal to have extra in case some were to get damaged or go missing. Ultimately, the number of menus you print should be based on how many seats are available, and then adding a quarter more as extra. If you are planning to make your menus disposable, you will have to calculate with management as to how often you will have to make orders for new menus. After that, you can decide how you want to present your menu (ex. In a holder, laminated, attached to a clipboard, etc.)
Things to Remember
- Get into the habit of updating your menu at least once a year. Sometimes menu items come and go, but the pricing on menu items should be looked over by you, the owner, and perhaps a financial assistant or assistant manager.
- As the seasons change, your menu might follow in the same direction. It’s not uncommon for a restaurant to have a summer menu. If this will be the case for your establishment, you will need to create a separate list of menu items and follow the steps above.
- You should edit and proofread your menu before sending it off to be printed. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a typo or grammatical error. Have several people look it over if need be.
- Get opinions from other sources, whether that is your team or people outside your business. While you can’t take every idea and thought into consideration, someone might be able to highlight a feature to make your menu become more effective to its audience.
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