How you write your menu matters. It matters to you, it matters to your guests, it matters to your kitchen staff and it matters to your serving staff.
The menu for your restaurant is “one of a kind” and serves best when it communicates that to everyone who reads it. There is value in the premise that it’s “Your” menu. Let it reflect not only the food, but also the driving forces and stories of your restaurant, adding to the ambiance and overall experience.
There are some basics to consider when writing your menu that will help make it great regardless of who might be reading it. Let’s look at some tips and how they fit in for everyone that might be using your menu.
Guests are usually the focus when we think of who we are writing the menu for. The dining experience is better when the menu is easy and intuitive. Keeping it simple and easy to read makes diners feel more relaxed, less like they are missing something, and more likely to order what they will really enjoy.
Servers and other Front of House staff have a special relationship with your menu. Help make it a good one! For wait staff, understanding the menu is crucial. should always include a solid understanding of the menu that your guests will use.
Detailed descriptions help diners order what they really want and will truly enjoy and recall. In a perfect world, each of your guests would read every word printed on your menu, but we know that never happens. Reduce frustration by keeping the menu simple and straightforward.
Your Heart-of-House staff need to be able to create what's on your menu accurately and perhaps with a degree of flexibility. Take into account the needs and variations of your kitchen when describing your items. Simplicity and organization of your menu can add to the productivity of your venue.
Organize your items in a way that reflects the style of your restaurant, and also is in tune with what actually happens when your guests dine with you.
Guests shouldn’t see options for breakfast after you’ve switched to lunch service. If you no longer offer certain items, take the time to reprint your menus. There is nothing worse than having your heart set on a dish just to be told it’s no longer offered.
The organization of your menu will help the serving process flow more smoothly for your staff. When things change on the menu (whether planned, or mid-shift) everyone needs to be notified. Your guests rely on your workers to communicate these changes to them, so it is vital to have a good system for notifying everyone about changes to menu items. The closer to real time you can do this the better.
A menu that is visually appealing and intuitive will connect what they order and enjoy with a visual cue that will create a more solid memory.
If you’re going to add pictures, make it consistent. Add pictures for every dish or category, or leave them out completely. Pictures are a great way to sell your product, but only if they make sense to the eye. Consider placement and quality of the picture.
When your staff is learning your menu, consider giving them flashcard decks with images and details about each item. A concise, visual learning tool will do wonders for your staffs’ product knowledge, making their life easier while reducing comps and voids.
Yes, your menu matters to everyone in the restaurant! The time and effort you put into creating a menu that works for everyone will pay off in the long run. Keep it simple, detailed, organized, and visually appealing.
Your team will thank you for making their job a little (or a lot) easier, and your guests will find more value in their dining experience.