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Introduction to Menu Planning

Menu planning in food and beverage service is one of the most significant managerial operations carried out by a team led by the entrepreneur. The menu in French means ‘in minute detail,’ and the ‘bill of fare’ in English.

A well-designed restaurant menu is an essential component of operating a thriving restaurant business. Careful menu planning and positioning not only helps restaurants make money, but it also makes ordering easier for your customers. Your restaurant menu is much more than a piece of paper listing the meals you provide, along with their descriptions and prices. When well prepared, it can also be used to upsell your food.

Excellent Menu Design Ideas for Creating a Perfect Restaurant Menu

Menu engineering takes a lot of effort, and we’ve condensed it down to the seven menu design criteria that thrill customers and tempt them to spend more.

Every area of the food and beverage industry, large or small, uses a menu, whether for commercial or charitable purposes.

It not only informs visitors about the available dishes but also assists the operator in deciding what to cook. The menu serves as the foundation for all administrative and operational actions in the food and beverage industry.

What’s on the menu?

A menu is a listing of foods and beverages that can be served to a paying guest. It assists guests in deciding what they want to eat or drink.

What types of menus exist?

There are two sorts of menus available:

Menu à la carte

Menu à la carte

1. Menu à la carte

An a-la-carte menu is a menu with several options, with each dish charged separately. Food items on this menu are charged separately in order to serve guests according to their preferences.

2. Menu à la carte

A table-d-hote menu is a fixed menu with a limited selection of meals and a fixed price. The full meal is charged under this menu, whether the diner has finished it or not. This menu is also known as Pre-fix (fixed price)

What is the menu’s role in food and beverage service?

Menu planning in the restaurant is the foundation for the operation

  • The menu serves as the foundation for all activities in the restaurant and the food and beverage department as a whole.
  • The menu serves as the foundation for activity equipment procurement, staff recruiting, and manufacturing procedures.
  • Without a menu, management will have no idea what cooking and service equipment to purchase, or what meals to create and sell on a daily basis.

Menu planning at a restaurant serves as a communication

The menu conveys to the guests:

The dishes that are for sale

The cost of dishes

Each item has a brief description.

Whether the recipes are hot or mild,

Whether the dishes are vegetarian or not.

The taxes on a dish

Time spent waiting for each dish

A menu card informs a guest of what he or she can eat, how long he or she may have to wait for his or her order, and what the bill will be at the conclusion of the dinner.

Menu planning as a powerful sales technique

The menu serves primarily as a marketing tool. They are presented attractively in bright colours on display boards with pictures that urge consumers to buy in fast food restaurants and casual dining establishments.

Menu cards describe foods in an enticing manner, making it easy for consumers to select dishes. They also assist customers in locating items they are looking for by printing photos, and promoting chef’s special dishes, and happy hours. and so forth.

Menu planning could be a brand image builder. 

The font style, design, colour, card quality, and range of dishes are available, presentation style, for instance, speaks volumes about the restaurant’s profile.

The quality of the people in the production and service departments, the type of equipment utilised, the restaurant’s infrastructure, and the client profile can all be evaluated. and so on, as you progress through the menu.

A guest reviewing an extensive continental menu featuring dishes from each course as well as meals carved and flambeed on the gueridon will bé able to evaluate the infrastructure in use as well as the calibre of people working in the kitchen and restaurant.

A menu surely reflects the restaurant’s image. A menu can be presented in a variety of ways as per the discretion of management:

  • By displaying it on bulletin boards
  • Presenting the card in a leather jacket
  • Printing it on fabric

The presenting style of the menu card should entice guests to read it. Dirty or ripped menu cards with price correction stickers harm the restaurant’s image.

Some salient features to keep in mind while planning the menu for your restaurant:

Emphasize the Most Profitable Products

Your most profitable item is one that involves low-cost components, takes little time to prepare, and can be sold at a higher price. This item should be featured in the menu card or displayed on the table as a daily or weekly special item that captures the customer’s eye. Alternatively, you might include it in the ‘Chef’s favourite’ section to entice customers to order it.

Control the Menu Size

A large menu with too many culinary options may end up confusing the customer. By focusing on a single cuisine, you may reduce menu size, reduce the variety of raw ingredients necessary, boost staff efficiency to better prepare and present the food, and help your consumers make a rapid selection. You can also introduce uncommon, regional specialities to outperform competitors serving comparable cuisines.

Furthermore, maintaining a large raw material inventory for various types of cuisines is too tough, whereas dishes that employ the same components help you avoid loss of raw materials and the time it takes to prepare them. It is often recommended to prepare the base of the dish ahead of time, such as gravy that may be utilised in several things.

Keep the menu design simple.

The menu layout should be simple and uncluttered. Use lines or boxes to divide the restaurant menu into logical parts, such as starters, drinks, pizzas or pasta, and desserts. The typeface chosen for the restaurant’s menu should be bold, visually appealing, and easily visible. The menu’s theme should reflect the font type, colour, and overall style of the business. As a result, you can give the menu card and the environment a cuisine-centric appearance and feel that quickly connects customers to the food. At the same time, keep in mind that too many graphics can look cluttered and detract from the menu elements.

Do Not Ignore the Description

Many clients may be unfamiliar with delicacies, particularly foreign ones. At that point, a brief menu explanation outlining the key elements of the dish may help diners decide what they want and what to get. You can also provide photographs of the food, but the dish must live up to the image description. In short, create succinct, interesting text that is simple for buyers to understand.

Maintain the Menu

It is critical to refresh the menu on a regular basis. You can use your menu performance reports to determine which menu items are not contributing to sales and then remove them from the menu. Determine which menu items are the most popular. This will tell you what your clients enjoy the most about your restaurant. You can create variations on those menu items to offer your customers something unique!

Refresh Your Dishes

Refresh your menu items by giving them a new spin. Experiment with ingredients to add new flavours to classic dishes. Instead of serving plain milk kheer, you might serve Bengali Payesh. While someone of Bengali background might be delighted, others would be enticed to try something new.

Employ Relative Pricing

Playing on the psychology of the customer can help your menu design perform more effectively. One of the most important aspects of restaurant management is menu engineering. When compared to a costly item, customers are more likely to order cheaper dishes. Place your low-cost, high-profit dish next to a pricey one that complements the preceding one. As a result, you can highlight the more expensive dish, which complements the less expensive item and encourages your guests to order more.

Last but not least, keep in mind that a menu is more than simply a piece of paper listing all of your restaurant’s meals and their prices; it is also the first step in promoting your food. A visually appealing menu design encourages guests to order more, which increases sales at your business. You may make an effective restaurant menu by using free design software such as Canva. In addition, restaurant management software can assist you with menu development like no other. The principle of menu engineering is that the better-performing food items are moved to the front.

While giving diversity, attempt to integrate seasonal or festive special menu items that will keep your consumers coming back for more for a long time. You must also prioritise the online menu; learn how to optimise your online menu to drive more online orders here. We believe that these menu engineering techniques will help you build a superb restaurant menu that will increase your restaurant’s revenues.

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