How often have you walked into a restaurant excited to try out something new and were disappointed as soon as you were handed the menu? I am sure we have all been there and wondered why there were items listed when in reality they were not available – or the quality of the menu was underwhelming and did not reflect the image of the restaurant. A menu is so much more than just a list of descriptive words for foodwith a price list; it represents the concept and quality the restaurant is trying to portray. An impressive and effective menu can bring in new customers and keep them coming back. Here are a few menu writing tips that will entice customers by the hoard.
· Choosing menu items
Menu writing can be a daunting task. Deciding which items you should offer and which you should skip? The perfect menu provides a balance of unique dishes and old favorites. The cost of the items should be worth their value keeping in mind the rush hours.
· Pricing of menu items
The knowledge of the correct food cost for menu items is critical for a profitable menu. The food cost means determining how much you need to charge for it. Commonly, food cost should be around 30-35% which may seem like a lot, but you are not only charging for the food but also paying for the ambiance, then someone has to prepare the food, serve it and clean up.
· Menu layout
The menu font and color scheme should be connected to the restaurant theme. Maybe, you can look up for a fancy word for food and put it somewhere on the menu as well as the walls of your restaurant.
· Keep your menu small
While writing your menu, stay humble and avoid the temptation to offer a vast selection of items as that will increase chances of wastage.
· Updating the menu
A menu needs to be updated at least once a year, and preferably twice or thrice a year. Updating allows you to check your food cost and assess how popular or unpopular certain items are. Remember, change is necessary for improvement.
· Menu descriptions
One does not wish to waste time reading long boring food description words hanging loosely. So it pays to have a lot of thought behind every word that goes on a menu. Avoid foreign words in a menu as that intimidates people, and they avoid ordering it. Using words like 'fresh-caught' or 'farmer grown' is enticing and makes the menu all that desirable.
· Separate menu
If your restaurant serves specialty drinks or desserts, it is a good idea to have a different menu or maybe a separate portion in the same, so that there is no confusion for your customers.
· Negative space
An overcrowded menu is a total turn-off. Use the white or negative space to set your dishes apart. This draws attention to the recipes that have the highest profit margin.
· Glossary section
Having a glossary section is an excellent option to have in case someone wants to see exactly how something is prepared. The customers may order a higher-priced dish if they can see how it is prepared. When you own a food business, remember that food description is more important than your restaurant's description and that's a big magnet for customers.
· Use photographs with caution
Using photographs is a way to describe the dish visually. But using pictures has a significant downside. They cheapen the look of the menu, images are better than the real dish, unrealistic photos can create unrealistic expectations of the taste, and that may disappoint customers. So some things are best left to the imagination.
· Write for your audience
It is undoubtedly advisable to study the demographics of your target audience. Learn their preferences and cater to them accordingly.
· How much to spend on menus
Spend as much you can afford to truly reflect who you are and what you are trying to achieve with what you are offering – and all this comes right on your menu.
· Customer reviews
Reading reviews from actual people who have tried different dishes may be the nail in the coffin that your menu needs. It gives the menu authentic feedback that can be read by everyone, and it would be a great idea to change according to those reviews regularly so that there is a variety of feedback.
· What to avoid on your menu
1. The menu is the heart of every restaurant and showcases everything it has to offer. But some things should be avoided to make your menu look authentic. The clip art is easy to add, but it gives the menu a childish look and lacks professionalism.
2. A lot of technical jargon for food descriptions makes it difficult for the laymen to understand. Avoid adding numbers to a dish, for example, six chicken sticks. Simple writing chicken sticks will suffice, and you can adjust your food portions to keep your food costs in check.
3. There are disclaimers in a menu in the form of fine print like 'tax included' or ' kids menu available for 12 and under', and these are fine if you know how to use it intelligently.
4. Stick to the simple font while menu writing. Sans Serif or Times is most comfortable to read in print, and an ideal 12-14 font is best for reading. Though, you can pair them with other cursive styles for headings or slogans.
5. Invest in a jacket for your menu instead of laminating it. These allow the menu to be removed or changed as needed.
· Final menu survey
After finalizing your menu, let people have a read and take suggestions and comments so that you can adjust before actually launching your list to your customers. Include strangers, along with members of your family to get real, honest feedback.
Writing a menu consists of a lot of thought. When you consider your target customers and what they would like to eat and see in a menu, it is imperative to get into their minds while designing a menu. Your list will be read by everyone who walks through the doors and will be your only chance to cast an impression of your restaurant that will either make them want to stay or leave immediately. So you want a menu that is inviting and makes loyal regular customers out of everyone who comes in for a first trial. Let's get those people eating and make your food the talk of the town!