When opening a restaurant, one of the most important things you need to know is how to make a restaurant menu. It seems daunting, but with a bit of planning and organization, it can be straightforward.
There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your menu, such as current food trends and what’s popular in the restaurant industry. You’ll also want to consider your target audience and what kinds of dishes they might enjoy.
How to Make a Restaurant Menu
Here are the four steps on how to make a from scratch restaurant menu:
Step 1: Choosing Your Brand’s Menu Options
- Restaurant Concept: As you develop your menu, it’s important to keep your restaurant’s concept in mind. Are you aiming for a casual dining experience, family style dining, or something more upscale? This dictates the types of dishes you’ll want to include in your food menu engineering analysis.
For casual dining, stick to simple entrée food and light dinner. But if you’re going for a more sophisticated vibe like fine dining, make sure to offer some gourmet options.
- Figure Out What You Will Be Serving: The first step in creating your menu is to decide what type of food or cuisine you will be serving. Will it be Italian, Chinese, American, or something else? Once you have decided on a cuisine, research popular dishes served typically within that cuisine. It will give you a starting point for determining what types of menu to include.
Next, consider whether you want to offer an a la carte service, prix fixe, or table d hote menu. A la carte allows guests to order individual dishes from the menu, while table d hote provides a set menu with multiple courses.
- Allergies to Foods and Dietary Restrictions: Once you know what kind of food you want to serve, you need to consider any food allergies or dietary restrictions your customers might have. Make sure to include options for vegetarians, vegans, and people with gluten intolerance or other food allergies.
- Break Down Menu Items Into Categories: When it comes time to write out your menu, it’s helpful to break down the items into sections. Starters, entrees, sides, and desserts are all common categories. Within each section, further categorize the items by type of dish, such as salad, soup, chicken, fish, etc.
Or, you could categorize your menu items by type of cuisine. It will make it easier for your customers to find what they want.
Once you have your categories figured out, start narrowing down your choices. Not every type needs to have a million different options – a few simple choices will suffice.
- Narrow Down Your Choices: Once you have a general idea of what you want to serve, it’s time to start narrowing down your options. Decide on a few essential entrees that will focus on your menu. Then add a few high-end or specialty items to set your restaurant apart from the competition. And finally, offer some house favorites that will keep customers coming back for more.
- Make a List of All Your Menu Items In a Spreadsheet: Once your menu items are narrowed down, it’s time to make a spreadsheet list of all of your menu items. Be sure to include the dish’s name, a brief description, any allergens or dietary restrictions it contains, and the price in dollar signs. This will help you keep track of everything and make it easy to make changes or updates as needed.
- Create a Logical Order for Your Menu: Once you have your menu items listed in a spreadsheet, the next step is to order them in a way that makes sense. Start by grouping similar items and ordering them from most popular to least popular. For example, you may want to begin with an appetizer list, add a la carte dishes, then main dishes, and finish with desserts. Or, you could order your menu items by type of cuisine.
- Create Menu Descriptions: Once you have sorted your menu items, it’s time to start writing descriptions for each one. Be creative with your names and descriptions; don’t be afraid to get a little quirky. After all, part of what makes a great menu is its personality. This is your chance to sell the dish and entice customers to order it.
Be sure to include special instructions such as whether an item is gluten-free or vegetarian so that your customers know exactly what they are getting. Keep it short and sweet – customers shouldn’t have to wade through paragraphs of text to figure out what they’re ordering. A few well-chosen words will suffice.
Step 2: Menu Pricing
As a restaurant owner, one of your most important tasks is recipe costing and maximizing profits. After all, if your prices are too high, you’ll dissuade customers from patronizing your establishment. But if your prices are too low, you won’t be able to make the profits you need to keep your business afloat. So how do you strike the perfect balance? There are four facts to remember as you determine your dishes’ prices.
- Calculate Your Gross Margins and Markup Percentages: When it comes to markup vs margin, there’s no magic formula. But as a general rule of thumb, most restaurants aim for a food cost percentage of 30-35%. For every $100 worth of food sold, the restaurant should expect to spend $30-$35 on ingredients. The average food cost for drinks is usually lower, around 20-25%.
- Consider the Cost of Your Ingredients: You’ll need to make sure you’re charging enough to cover the cost of the food. Plus any other expenses like the cost of goods sold, labor cost, and overhead expenses. Once you’ve calculated all that, add a markup to boost your profitability. A good rule of thumb is to add a 20-30% markup on food costs.
- Psychological Pricing: One of the most important things to remember when pricing your menu items is psychological pricing. This is the practice of setting prices that end in 9, such as $19.99 or $9.99. This strategy is based on the idea that consumers are more likely to perceive these prices as being lower than they actually are, encouraging them to make a purchase.
- Consider the Average Income of Folks In Your Area: Finally, when pricing your menu, you’ll need to consider the average income of people in your area. After all, you want your prices to be accessible to your potential customer base. But you also don’t want to price yourself out of the market. A good rule of thumb is to keep your prices 10-15% below the average entree price in your area. This will ensure that your prices are competitive without sacrificing your restaurant profit margin.
Step 3: Creating a Rough Draft
Creating a rough draft is an essential step in the menu design process. It will help you experience your own menu’s look and flow. It also allows you to make changes before you finalize your design.
When creating a rough draft, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Choose a Design Scheme: The most important thing here is to ensure that your menu’s design matches your restaurant’s overall style. For example, if you have a rustic Italian restaurant, you might want to use a simple design with earth tones. If you have a modern American eatery, you might want to use a more contemporary design with bright colors.
- Layout: How will you arrange the items on your menu? Will you group them by type of dish or by price? Use a template or software program to experiment with different layouts until you find one that works for you.
- Fonts: What font will you use for your menus headlines and body text? Will you use more than one font? Be sure to choose fonts that are easy to read and that complement the overall look of your menu. You also need to decide how much space to leave between items on your menu. Too much space makes your menu look empty, while too little space makes it look cluttered. A good rule of thumb is to leave about 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) between each item.
- Color Scheme: What colors will you use on your menu? Will you use a single color or multiple colors? Be sure to choose colors that are easy to read and that complement the overall look of your menu. The colors you use should match the style of your restaurant and complement the food photos (if you’re using any). For example, if you have a French bistro, you might want to use classic French colors like red, white, and blue. If you have an Asian-fusion restaurant, you might want to use bolder colors like yellow and green.
- Graphics: Do you want to include any photos or graphics on your menu? If so, be sure to choose images that are high quality and that complement the overall look of your menu. If you want to add a personal touch to your menu, take photos of the food yourself. It is a great way to make your menu more appetizing and give potential customers a taste of what they expect.
- Select a Presentation Style That Fits Your Restaurant’s Concept: After selecting color schemes and graphics, it’s time to decide on a presentation style. The most common styles are plated (each dish is presented on its own plate), family-style (several dishes are served in the middle of the table for everyone to share), and buffet (a selection of dishes is laid out for guests to choose from).
Now that you have your menu content ready, it’s time to start putting it together. This is where you’ll begin to see your menu come to life, so take your time and experiment with different layouts and design elements until you find something you’re happy with.
Remember, this is just a rough draft, so don’t worry if it’s not perfect. You can always make changes later on down the line.
Once you’re happy with your rough draft, start to work on your final menu design.
Step 4: Choosing Your Final Layout
Choosing your final layout is a crucial step in menu design. You need to ensure that you have enough menus for all of your guests and that the layout is easy to read and understand. Here are six factors to keep in mind when choosing your final design:
- Determine how many menus you need based on the number of seats.
- Proofread and edit the menu before printing.
- Printed menus should be printed in a high-quality printer to look professional.
- Bind or package your menus so they are easy to distribute to guests.
- Make sure that the layout is easy to read and understand from top left to right. Guests should be able to find the items they are looking for quickly.
- Ask for opinions from friends or family members before finalizing the layout. They may have helpful suggestions that you hadn’t considered.
Consider Going Digital
If you’re looking to make the switch from paper menus to digital menu ordering, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. First, you’ll need to create a digital version of your menu using a simple Word document or PowerPoint presentation. You can then convert this document into a QR code PDF that can be displayed on your website or printed out and placed on tables at your restaurant.
Once you create a digital menu, you’ll need to decide how you want customers to order from it. One option is to use a QR code that customers scan with their smartphones. To create a QR code, you’ll need the best QR code generator. This will take them directly to your digital menu, where they place their order.
There are many different generators available online, so choosing one that best suits your needs is essential. Another option is to use a digital ordering system. This allows customers to browse your menu and place orders through online ordering apps.
Additionally, the touch screen menu ordering system is becoming a restaurant tech trend. If you’re considering implementing this type of system, be sure to do your research and find a reputable provider.
Finally, don’t forget that online menu ordering is also an option for your customers. By providing a link to your online menu on your website or social media page, you’ll make it easy for customers to view and order from your restaurant no matter where they are.
The restaurant menu is an important part of the dining experience. It is your chance to showcase your culinary skills and tempt diners with delicious-sounding dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Make a Restaurant Menu
What Are the Five Courses of a Meal?
The following are the typical five courses of a meal:
- Main course
How Many Dishes Should Be On a Menu?
The number of dishes on a menu varies depending on the type of restaurant. A Michelin Star restaurant is known for its high-quality cuisine and outstanding service. These restaurants typically have fewer dishes than casual restaurants, focusing on perfecting a smaller number of dishes. Ultimately, it is up to the chef and owner to decide how many dishes to include.
Who Plans the Menu?
The executive chef or head chef is responsible for the menu in most restaurants. They decide what dishes will be offered and create new dishes to add to the menu. In some cases, the restaurant owner may be involved in menu planning, but this is typically left to the head chef.