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Good Menu Design Requires Creative as Well as a Systematic Approach

Dec 1, 2007
A key part to any restaurant marketing plan is often overlooked because it's right in front of everyones eyes: the menu. It's very important to have a well-crafted menu because it's one of the first things customers look at when they sit down. A menu will reflect the taste and the personality of a restaurant while selling the meals that are available by offering well-written descriptions of plates and drinks. Plus, as you're designing a menu, you'll be able to figure out if you're selling meals that will cost enough to cover your budget, or that will cost so much that it will turn away your target demographic. So, as important the menu design is to the customers who read it, it's also important to the restaurant itself as it is being put together.

Before you actually start to put together your restaurant, you need to do some research in order to be able to make it the best it can be. Take this into consideration when you're planning your menu: 80% of your typical customers will come from people living within a 10-minute drive of your restaurant. So, take a look at the neighbourhood around your restaurant. Get to know what type of people live there and also look at the other restaurants in the area. You can compare prices of other restaurants as well as the types of food that's being served. This way, you can be able to tailor your menu to be affordable and unique, and therefore attractive to the people who happen to live around you.

Now onto actually creating your menu, which takes steps that are both creative and systematic. Menu design for a restaurant isn't rocket science, but it's best to keep things in a certain order, one that mimics the dining experience. Start by listing the appetisers, soups, and salads, then move onto the meals, then the desserts. If there are items that you want people to pay particular attention to, make sure they stand out. List them in a different font, place an asterisk near them, or print a picture next to the item's name. You can do the same with new dishes as well, once you get your restaurant underway, so repeat customers will know if you've added something since their last visit.

You should also design your menu to reflect the personality of your restaurant. If you are a simple, down to earth establishment, let your menu reflect that. Make it simple, less image-intensive, and easy to read. If you are a lavish, upscale restaurant, give your menu some elegance to it. Colour it and design it to appeal to customers who will probably be a little more scrutinizing. If you know the personality of your restaurant, you'll find that putting together and designing a great menu will come to you easily.

There are a number of mistakes that people tend to make when designing a menu as well. If you know what these are, you can stop yourself from making the same mistakes and ruining a menu. First, make sure that your menu is easy to read. Lettering should be big enough for people to see clearly, and the language you use needs to be clear as well. If a customer questions what he or she is ordering, it may create conflicts when the food is actually brought out. If you are serving foreign cuisine, make sure to have English-language translations for all the words people might now know. Again, this will clear up any confusion.

As you can see, there are quite a bit of things you need to think about when designing the menu for your restaurant, but in reality it will be very easy. As long as you have done research into what other restaurants do with their menus and you have a very clear vision of what you're selling, the perfect menu can be easily crafted.
About the Author
Robert Bylett helps managers who are open to new and innovative ways of looking at solutions to food service problems focus energy, optimise performance, and achieve their objectives faster and easier. More info: Just Consultancy
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