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Everything Your Need to Know About Creating a Restaurant Menu

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At the core of any successful restaurant is its menu. A restaurant menu is a showcase for a restaurant’s signature dishes, reflecting the theme, ambiance and style of a restaurant. Restaurant menus can be very formal (think limited menu items printed on heavy paper with fancy font) or ultra casual (think daily specials written on a chalkboard). No matter what type of restaurant you are writing for, here is everything you need to know about restaurant menus.

Before You Write a Restaurant Menu

Before you sit down to write your restaurant menu, you should first understand the link between the restaurant kitchen and a restaurant menu. The size and setup of your restaurant kitchen will directly impact the size and style of your menu. A smaller kitchen will limit the variety of your restaurant menu. That isn’t to say you can’t offer a wide number of items. I’ve worked in tiny restaurant kitchens that featured over a hundred items on their menu. However, the secret was that menu cross-utilized many ingredients and only used two to three different kitchen stations.

What to Avoid on a Restaurant Menu

There is a laundry list of things to avoid on a restaurant menu, like hard to read font or overly descriptive language. Remember, your menu is a like an ambassador for your restaurant, and you want to put your best foot forward.

How to Price a Restaurant Menu

Once you have your restaurant menu drafted, it’s time to price it out. Understanding food cost is vital to pricing any restaurant menu. You want to make sure you are making enough of a profit with your menu prices, while still staying competitive with other restaurants in the area. If you are offering highly seasonal items, like seafood, you should also know when to use market price on your restaurant menu.

Special Occasions Menus

Many restaurants create different menus for special occasions. Busy holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are a good time for a prix fixe menu. A prix fixe menu limits the number of items available at a given time, making it easier for the kitchen to turn out large number of meals in a short span of time. Even if it isn’t a holiday, a prix fixe menu also acts as a great promotion during slow times. Special two-for-one prix menus or a wine tasting prix fixe menu are great restaurant promotions to get people through the door, even during hard economic times.

Writing a restaurant menu can be a lot of fun, like choosing a restaurant name, but temper your creative side with cost effective ingredients, proper pricing and easy to understand descriptions. Maybe an item you thought would fly out of the kitchen isn’t that popular, after all. Or the cost of a certain ingredient sky-rocketed. Don’t be afraid to add or change menu items periodically. It’s your restaurant menu, after all!

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