The menu is the focal point of a restaurant. Sure, location, decor, and operations are important, but at the end of the day, people go to restaurants for the food. Creating a menu that is unique, flexible, and, most importantly, delicious is crucial for your restaurant’s success. There are many factors to consider when creating a menu, including price, ingredients, prep time, equipment needs, and more. To ensure your restaurant gets it right, we’ve compiled a list of tips and recommendations for building a successful menu.

Don’t Stray Too Far

While it’s fun to experiment with different ingredients and dishes, don’t stray too far from your restaurant’s identity. There are always fun trends happening around food (think: jalepeño-infused anything, charcuterie boards, etc.), but are they relevant to your restaurant’s concept? Just because a recipe or food item is popular right now doesn’t mean that it’s right for your menu. Stay true to your restaurant’s concept so guests know what to expect. For example, if your restaurant is known for traditional Italian cuisine, incorporating a sushi roll on the menu may not be the best idea. If you’d like to test out fun or trendy ingredients, try first placing them in appetizers, side dishes, or even in a specialty drink.

The Price is Right

A major component of your menu is pricing. This involves more than just deciding how much to charge guests, but also includes taking into account the cost of ingredients, labor, and more. While you don’t want high prices to turn customers away, you also need to price items appropriately for your business to make a profit. Typically, the cost of ingredients tends to be about 25-30% of the menu’s price, although this varies. A few tips for keeping prices reasonable? Shop around for ingredients and prepare appropriate portion sizes to reduce waste.

Preparation Timing and Delivery

Food quality is of the utmost importance, so be sure to understand how long it will take to prepare a dish and, once prepared, how long it will take until it gets to the guest. Some food items are best consumed within minutes of being prepared, while others can wait a bit longer. It’s important to set expectations for prep and delivery time with staff and guests alike so you don’t end up with frustrated customers. Additionally, with the growing popularity of takeout and deliver services, ensure that menu items offered for this service can withstand the time it takes to prepare, box, and then deliver.

Consider Product Availability

Having to tell a guest that an item they’re trying to order is unavailable can leave them extremely frustrated. Especially with today’s supply chain issues, making sure you’re able to procure menu items continually is crucial. Do your research before adding an item to your menu so you have an idea if it’s regularly available. This not only involves ensuring ingredients and other food items are available but also that you’re working with reliable manufacturers and suppliers.

Don’t Neglect Marketing

Even if you have a phenomenal menu with great prices, it won’t mean much if people don’t know about them! Consider how you will advertise your menu: Will you utilize social media? Will you run advertisements? In today’s digital age, most people will search for restaurants online and peek at menus before arriving at the restaurant, so make sure you have an up-to-date and functioning website that showcases your menu. Don’t forget that the look of your menu matters, too. Things like the fonts, colors, and imagery can entice guests to come to your restaurant, so don’t neglect these details.

Plate Presentation

When it comes to food, looks are everything. Even if something tastes great, if it doesn’t look appetizing, it can turn off guests. Have fun with how you present the food to your guests, and take time to work on each item’s plate presentation. It may seem irrelevant, but guests often take photos of food to post on social media and review sites, and you’ll want to make sure they’re sharing photos that make others want to visit your restaurant.

Learn How Chef Services Group Can Help

Chef Services Group has over 30 years of food and beverage and food manufacturing experience and can help you assess your operations, enhance your menu, and take your beloved recipes to market. Contact us today to learn more.