Creating a restaurant menu isn't just about listing all the dishes you can cook. It's an art, a science, and an essential component of your brand’s story. While it's important to let your creativity run free, you also need to be realistic. Here are the top dos and don'ts for building a tantalizing menu that captures attention and appetites alike.
Do: Infuse Your Personality
Your menu is an extension of your personality and your restaurant's identity. It’s the novel in which you tell your brand’s culinary story. Is your brand fun and playful? Use that voice in your menu descriptions. Is your food sourced from local organic farms? Tell that story. Let your character shine through every item and description.
Don't: Over-complicate Things
While creativity is important, over-complicated menu descriptions can confuse customers. Instead of being impressed by your culinary knowledge, customers may feel intimidated. Ensure your creativity makes your dishes more approachable, not less. Some chefs find this to be one of the most difficult tasks. If that's you, consider hiring a professional menu writer. Many acclaimed restaurants do it, because their expertise and attention is better suited in the kitchen.
Do: Embrace Visual Appeal
An attractive menu creates an enjoyable customer experience. Use high-quality images to highlight your signature dishes. Good design, including fonts, colors, and layout, can help guide your customer’s eye and subtly steer them toward certain choices.
Don't: Stretch The Truth
Honesty is key. Don't advertise a dish as "home-made" or "organic" if it's not. Customers value authenticity and can see through misleading descriptions. Stick to the truth – it’s more appealing than you might think.
Do: Experiment & Evaluate
Regularly update and experiment with your menu based on customer feedback and sales data. Maybe the vegan lasagna is a surprise hit, or perhaps the lobster bisque isn't as popular as you expected. Stay flexible and ready to revise, even thought we know your lobster bisque is divine!
Don't: Neglect Menu Costs & Logistics
Creativity doesn't mean throwing caution to the wind. Consider the costs and logistics associated with each dish. It might be fun to dream up an exotic seafood extravaganza, but if the ingredients are hard to source or it's too expensive to make regularly, it may not be a wise menu addition.
Building a menu is like painting a canvas that tells your brand’s story, appeals to your customers' appetites, and makes good business sense. Unleash your creativity, but also respect the realities of running a restaurant. That balance is the secret ingredient to a truly great menu.