Creating your restaurant menu may seem like a very straightforward thing at first. You choose the dishes you’ll be offering, come up with a price point for them based on your costs, and then put it in the hands of your patrons. Voila! That’s it…. or is it?

The truth is that designing a profitable and successful restaurant menu has become a scientific field, where every single aspect cannot be overlooked. From fonts to coloring, to imagery, graphic design, how you list prices, how many dishes per section, what format to use, what material to use, and so on and so forth. There are a lot more moving parts than many people may think. But, that doesn’t mean it has to be incredibly difficult or stressful to do. Here’s how.

Using Menu Design Software Programs

Today, technology has become an integral tool in all aspects of our daily life, especially when it comes to running a business like a restaurant. By using menu design software to create your restaurant menu, you can create functional menus. The software offers templates to choose from depending on the style of restaurant you own and the type of menu you want to design.

These programs offer a vehicle to layout a menu and unless you have somewhat of a creative eye and a lot of time reconsider.

Hiring A Graphic Designer or Freelancer for Creating your Restaurant Menu

You have spent 100’s of thousands of dollars and more building your restaurant. Let the professionals handle one of the most important components. Leave the design to someone professional that you can direct, hiring a graphic menu design specialist may be a smart choice. If you go with an experienced menu production company that has designed successful restaurant menus before, then you can leave it in their hands (with your approval at each aspect). This will take the guesswork out of it as an experienced menu production company will know how to present your food options based on the type of restaurant you have. It’s important to let them know as much as possible about your restaurant.

If they can come to see your location in person, great. If not, send images of the restaurant from the outside and the inside. What are the decor and aesthetics? What type of food and is it formal or informal? This will assist them in creating your restaurant menu perfectly. Now, compared to inexpensive software it will be more expensive, but maybe the right fit for your restaurant business and you will get a professional look.

Choosing The Format – Single Page, Two-Panel and Booklet

We’ve all been to different types of restaurants and you will have seen that there is no one size fits all when it comes to choosing the menu format. Single page menus have been trending lately as the consumer is looking for a more casual dining experience. You will see them used in gastropubs, bistros and high-end restaurants as well.

A folded or two-panel menu is another choice and one that is very easy for diners to read. It opens simply like a booklet or pamphlet and is great for placing strategic dishes throughout the menu. You can have multiple sections like traditional appetizers, salads, pasta, entrees, specials beverages, and dessert. Of course, depending on the number of menu items and other features you may want to promote such as wine list, catering, brunch or happy hour will determine the amount of display area needed. If designed properly all the above configurations will work.

Naming & Pricing

Also, when creating your restaurant menu, naming and how prices are listed can also make a difference to the menus and individual dishes’ success. For naming a dish like Meatballs and spaghetti, you will want to keep it more interesting and use imagery or engage the senses. For example, this dash could be called “Nonna’s Fire Roasted Meatballs & House-made fresh Spaghetti”.

Pricing as well is important. Never use dollar signs it reminds diners they are spending money. Also never line up prices in a straight line down you don’t want customers to select by price. Instead, you want them to read the selection and come to a conclusion “that sounds good.”

Testing Your Menu

When creating your restaurant menu, your menu should be tested with a couple of complimentary nights of inviting friends, relatives, and local business people. This will give you a good idea of how the kitchen is set up and if there are any menu items that slow up the production line. Of course, all your guests should be asked for an honest assessment and to fill out a comment card. Following this test opens quietly or what is cold a “soft opening” which will allow all functions to acclimate gradually. After a few weeks and everything is moving well go for the grand opening announcement

Your very first menu will probably need to be adjusted within the first week or two once you open. With that in mind don’t order to many 50 to 60% of the seating is a good rule of thumb

All In All

Creating your restaurant menu doesn’t have to make your hair fall out. Look at other successful restaurant menus, test your menu, get customer feedback. A few proper choices can go a long way when it comes to your menu’s success.

Want more tips and advice on creating your restaurant menu? Check out our blog.

No Cost Analysis of Your Menu

We will be glad to review your menu and point out things that may help your menu work better. Even if you are not using our menu papers or printing services. Email a PDF or JPEG of your menu to tom@menustore.com

If you need our full service of typesetting and printing your menus or just printing from your files,
visit MenuPaper.com or call 1-800-815-5342 to get started