It might be true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but your restaurant will certainly be judged by its menu. In this age of the Internet, many potential customers will look over your menu online before they decide to visit your restaurant. And for the others who enter your establishment on impulse, their evaluation of your menu might be what convinces them to stay or to leave. So how do you go about designing a great menu?

Place items by importance

When you opened your restaurant, you might have thought that the most important aspect of the business would be about making the food. But there’s an important segue between the preparation of your delicious offerings and their consumption by your customers. After all, to ensure that your business is a success, you must make the best sales, and this means ensuring that your patrons are attracted to the right items on the menu. Here are some tips from

How each item is placed on the menu will affect its sales:

  • The first most important position is the top third of the menu in the centre. Put your best dishes there.
  • Next is the item to the right of your first item. Most people naturally read from left to right so this is a natural progression.
  • The third item will be the one located on the top left in line with the first two items. Readers will usually revert to the standard way of reading after skimming through the prime items, so they will start at the beginning and continue reading down.
  • The back of the menu is a good place for specials because many readers who are handed a printed menu will scan the front and flip over to the back for a preview before reading in detail.
  • Large headers on the menu will also draw the patrons’ attention and encourage their eye to jump to each new section such as “starters” and “drinks”. This will again follow the placement rules of the previous sections.

Strike the right note

To ensure that your menu ideas look stylish, keep it simple. According to the convention, the logical order is starters, salads, main courses, desserts and drinks. Use a simple font and layout to give prominence to the food. Again, it’s not necessary to use too many images, but make sure that the photos you use are of a professional standard to make them as appealing as possible to customers. Similarly, keeping to a few attractive colours and pops of colour will give the right impression of stylishness.

Next-level menu ideas

When you’re embarking on menu planning, the most important aim is to focus the reader’s attention to the food on offer. Don’t arrange items in price order, and consider leaving out the rand symbols. Give the pricing less prominence than the other text by making it a lighter shade.

You should also write interesting descriptive copy for the food on offer, which will add to the diner’s experience. Finally, you can ask diners to follow your restaurant on social media. This is a great way of informing them of specials and events, and of course, getting some attention online.

If you are a restaurant owner and want to keep up to date with restaurant trends, download our e-book, The definitive 21st-century restaurant playbook. It provides food for thought and all the tips and tricks you need to help you stay ahead in the restaurant business.

Author: Rudi Badenhorst