How Do You Design a Menu?

When it comes to a restaurant, menu design may often be overlooked. This is a huge mistake. As a restaurant owner, your menu design is very important. It can determine the feel of your restaurant as well as the quality of the food. You don’t want to give your customers the wrong idea, so it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions while creating and designing your menu.
First, remember that it’s the first impression that people get of your food. How you choose to present your food is like presenting yourself for the first time. You need to ensure that your menu fits your restaurant’s style. When you hand a customer your menu, do you want it to be a single page menu, a folded menu, or triple-folded menu? Do you want it to be with plastic covers or a thick piece of paper that’s disposable every night? How often your menu changes should help decide this, along with the amount of food you offer.
Next, consider your categories. People like organization when it comes to menus. Do you want to break it in to appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pastas and desserts? Do you want to use different terms for each? What works best for your restaurant style? Make sure the order flows logically. You don’t want appetizers at the end of the menu if that’s typically ordered first. Where will you offer your sides? Would you rather it be very noticeable on the menu so your waiters and waitresses aren’t constantly repeating them or would you rather them be unobtrusive and hidden? Maybe you don’t have sides but every entree includes a salad, where will you list that note?
Again, ask yourself questions about the fonts and colors. Certain colors stand out more than others, certain fonts provide a certain feel. What do you want your customers to get from the font type and color. Fonts that are sans serif portray a more casual feel while serif fonts provide a more classy, formal feel. Bold colors may also give off a family restaurant, or quick service atmosphere. Do you want that to be your restaurant or do you want to stick with a classic black and white menu that may seem that you focus more on the food than frills?
Is pictures a yay or nay on menus? Well that depends on your restaurant style. Certain food styles may require them. Typically you’ll find pictures of food that’s more specialized or a certain cuisine. For example you may see more pictures next to Japanese cuisine or Mexican cuisine so people are more aware of what they’re ordering. If a menu item is in a different language, it might have a lengthy description or a picture to help that customer. Some people feel that images “dumb down” a menu, while others prefer to see the food they’re ordering. This option is based on the clientele that will be ordering.
These are all questions you want to ask yourself as you’re designing your restaurant’s menu. There really is no right or wrong answer, but you do need to consider your customer base and what they expect. All the elements of the menu work in conjunction with each other. You can’t expect a plain black and white menu to scream “Classy Restaurant.” You may accidentally use the wrong font and then it just looks like it’s a pop-up restaurant that is waiting for their real menus. Putting together the right menu presentation is all about delivery, categorization, fonts, colors, picture choices, and working with the restaurant style. You must remember too, you don’t necessarily have to get it right on the first try. Your customers will provide you feedback throughout their dining experiences. If they often ask where are your drinks or sides, consider moving those sections to accommodate them. It’ll be a work in progress but always keeping in mind, your menu is extremely important to your success. After all, it is how you “sell” your food.

photo credit: avlxyz via photopin cc

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