How To Design A Restaurant Menu

Source from: The Balance Small Business | by Lorri Mealey

How To Design A Restaurant Menu

One of the most important parts of a restaurant business is its menu.

A restaurant menu design is a reflection of the restaurant itself. A menu is what will lure new customers to try your restaurant. Carefull considerations should be paid to the menu descriptions, layouts and colors. Your menu should also compliment your restaurant's theme i.e.if you have a casual diner your menu font shouldn't be fancy script.  Here are some simple steps to help you design an effective menu for your new restaurant.

Before Your Design Your Restaurant Menu

Check out your competition. Look at their website and study their menu to see the price range of their meals. Also, look for similarities and differences between your prospective restaurant menu and theirs. Ask yourself the following questions:

How will my restaurant menu be different from everyone else’s? If you can’t answer this question, stop right here. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars. You need to decide what will separate your food from the masses. This is the driving force behind your restaurant menu design.

What restaurant menu items are similar to my competitors? Not everything on your menu has to be 100% original. Look at how many places offer a hamburger or cheeseburger as a dinner option. You can offer similar items, but you should add something to yours, to make it stand out in a crowd. For example, your restaurant menu may include a hamburger with hand-cut French fries, while your competitor offers a plain burger with boring old frozen fries.

Does my restaurant menu pricing match my competitors? If you charge $14.00 for that hamburger and your biggest competitor charges $9.00, you’d better be adding something fantastic to that burger to justify the price (like lobster or a foot massage). Otherwise, who do you think your customers are going to frequent?

Designing a Restaurant Menu Layout

Okay, so once you have studied the competition and written up a stellar restaurant menu, you need to create the perfect restaurant menu design. This sounds easy enough, but an effective menu design is more than just printing out a list of items on a WordPerfect program. Colors, fonts and borders are all integral parts of a an effective menu design.

Restaurant Menu Colors and Font

Your menu font and color scheme should reflect your restaurant theme. For example, if you are opening a Mexican themed restaurant, vibrant colors such as red, turquoise, purple and green would be good choices for a menu. These same colors would look out of place on the menu of a French bistro or Italian restaurant. Ditto for the font. A French bistro may have a classic script font or simple plain font, while a sports bar or other casual restaurant might have a less formal or playful font. Beware of choosing a font that is hard to read or too small.

Restaurant Menu Sections

Take a look at a menu from most any restaurant and you will see that it is arranged sequentially: appetizers, soups & salad, main entrees, desserts and beverages. It is important to have sections clearly identified, by either bold headings, boxes or borders. Highlighting special dishes with a star or other insignia, such as a house favorite or chef’s specialty is one way to draw a customers attention to popular dishes.

Depending on your restaurant menu size, one or two columns makes for an attractive layout. Adding more columns runs the risk of looking like the newspaper classifieds. Daily specials can be easily changed with a clear menu insert. Avoid adding to many pictures or busy backgrounds, that make the menu hard to read. Also avoid common computer clipart, which takes away from the professional look of a restaurant menu design.

Restaurant Menu Descriptions

You menu description should make a guest’s mouth water. Don’t be afraid to explain what is in a dish, and use ethnic names if they fit, to add a bit of authentic flair to the menu description. For example, Chicken Margarita sounds better than Chicken topped with spicy tomatoes. You can explain what is in the dish (spicy tomatoes) in the description itself.

Incorporating geography or local history into a menu item name is also a way to make your restaurant menu unique. For example, Maine Lobster Roll sounds inviting, whether you eating it in Maine or somewhere else, as does Texas Barbequed Ribs and Georgia Peach Pie. Avoid making descriptions too long. A sentence or two is fine. You want to intrigue the customer. If they have more questions, their server should be able to give further information about a dish or recommend a house favorite.

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