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Menu layout 

Before a potential guest even sets foot into your restaurant, chances are that they would have already searched for your menu online. The layout of your menu is one of the first visual impacts you can have on your guest to win them over.

For most Western restaurants, the menu is broken down into these main categories:

  • Appetisers
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Mains/Entrées
  • Desserts

However, depending on the theme of your restaurant, your menu should reflect the flow of progression of the meal. For example, sharing plates have become very trendy in recent years, and you can use them as appetisers in your menu if it fits the theme. This is another good way to add colour to the experience. You can also get creative with how you want to present the menu – some restaurants use blackboards, clipboards or a mounted frame to create a bigger ‘wow’ factor.

Menu wording

How are you describing your food?

Dishes should be described in a clear, simple way that also piques the diner’s interest. Think of your words as strokes coming together to form a mental painting in the mind of your guest. Badly described or overly complex sounding dishes draw a blank and chances are they won’t be ordered.

Keep the description of your food simple

Use simple, easy to understand language and avoid being too wordy. Stay away from terms that only kitchen staff would understand. By giving simple names to your dishes, you are personalising them and that helps them to stand out in the mind of the guest. Try playing around with the words of a slow-moving dish ­and it might just become your next bestseller.

Finally, and most importantly, check for any spelling mistakes that might have slipped past your radar and correct them immediately. 

Menu pricing 

As every chef worth his salt knows, understanding how to calculate food costs is one of the most important aspects of running a kitchen. The general gauge for food costing lies in the region of about 32% of your retailing price. Take into account all the ingredients that go into making the dish before working out the menu prices.

Be consistent with your pricing in the menu. Don’t let prices fluctuate too much with dishes in the same category as guests might be turned off by the higher priced item. For example, you wouldn’t want to sell a fish dish for $20 and a steak for $70. Lastly, round off your prices so it doesn’t include a strange figure like $28.75. Don’t forget – a simple menu is a good menu.