At first glance, a restaurant menu might seem like the means to an end: a way to order food. In reality, smart menu design is crucial to success, giving operators the chance to enhance not only the dining experience but also their bottom line. “A menu is the one piece of marketing that every diner will see and touch,” says Bruce Barnes, Senior Manager, Sysco Marketing Services. “They may not see a billboard or an ad on TV, but the menu is their direct link.”
Don’t Overdo It
There are a number of things to consider when you design a menu, from the layout to the size and number of dishes featured. Barnes says one common mistake he sees is restaurants trying to do too much. “Customers want to make quick decisions. They want to be presented with what’s guaranteed to be good and with something that they shouldn’t miss.” Instead of overwhelming guests with everything from soup to nuts, Barnes suggests paring down the menu so it focuses on what your restaurant does well and what is making a profit, as well as on low-labor items that don’t burden the kitchen.
“Fonts, colors and contrast are all crucial elements to good design,” says Barnes. With dim restaurant lighting and an aging baby boomer population, easy readability is also key. And if you use photos, be sure they are high-quality images that reflect what the final dish will look like.
We can tailor menu designs to meet the needs of each operation.
Highlight What’s New and Different
Your menu is your No. 1 marketing tool, and a great way to introduce diners to what’s new in your kitchen. Operators can highlight specific dietary options like gluten-free, vegan, sugar-free and more by putting an icon next to them or placing them in a special section of the menu (e.g., “The Lighter Side”). Barnes also suggests showcasing healthy options by using bright colors (greens work well here) and fresher font choices.
Not sure where to start? Sysco Menu Services can help. “Our menu consultants work with customers by looking at their current menu and talking to them about their specific issues,” Barnes says. “We can tailor menu designs to meet the needs of each operation.”
Is your menu maximized for profitability? Talk to your Marketing Associate about scheduling a review with Sysco’s Menu Services team.