Simply said, what makes a restaurant a restaurant is the menu. Without it, there is no business and the restaurant becomes nothing but an empty property. Developing a restaurant menu is therefore your first step towards running a successful restaurant. Treat the menu as your restaurant’s number one marketing tool. If you develop a killer menu, customers will keep coming back for more.

1. Decide the menu type

Firstly, you would want to determine whether your restaurant will be serving breakfast, lunch or dinner. This will help you come up with a list of dishes to serve. You will also need to decide whether you are going with an a la carte, prix fixe, all-you-can-eat menu or a combination of all three. Some restaurants maintain a static menu where the dishes served are the same every day, whereas others try to be more adventurous by offering a cycle menu that changes periodically.
 2. Choose the menu items

Completing the previous step will naturally lead you to the next step: choosing what to include in your menu. The tip here is to be adequately diverse. Stick with an ideal number of options to cater to the different diets and tastes of your patrons, without overwhelming patrons with too many selections.

3. Setting the right price

When pricing items on your menu, take into account the cost of ingredients and other relevant expenses. With your budget in mind, calculate how much revenue you want to generate from your food sales. Remember to be reasonable as to not turn away customers.

4. Study your demographics

The target market is a big determinant in developing a restaurant menu. Not only does it help determine the prices, it also helps with choosing what dishes to include in your menu. For example, if your primary customers are families with children, serving spicy food wouldn’t be ideal.

5. Study the competition

Look at what your closest competitors are doing. Compare your menu with theirs; see what their menu has that yours doesn’t, see what distinct advantages yours have over theirs and highlight those.

6. Consult your chef

Leveraging a chef’s expertise when creating a menu is a brilliant move. Discuss how you can make your menu stand out. Match his or her skills to the menu, and encourage him to experiment with new recipes.

7. Spend time on the design and wording

Imagine how irritating it would be to come into a restaurant hangry, only to be presented with a menu that is poorly laid out and designed. Ordering would be such a hassle! A well designed menu highlights the restaurant’s best-selling items, reflects the brand’s design and above all, easy to read. Additionally, spend time crafting the description for each item. The dishes should sound appetizing without the excessive use of cliché vocabularies such as “mouth-watering”, “infused with” or “homemade”. Needless to say, include pictures of your dishes!

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