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What's the point in Menu Design?

Not only do you have to consider the restaurant space, interior design and ethos of the restaurant, In the hustle and bustle of trying to get a new restaurant off the ground, one crucial step is often not given enough importance and is quickly completed at the last minute before opening… menu design! You may be thinking, why is this even important? But in actual fact there are many things to consider when you are planning to develop your restaurant menu. You need to remember that being able to create a perfectly fitting menu, is important to attracting customers in the first place… then you just have to ensure your food tastes as good as it sounds on the menu.

While a menu can seem like a simple list of food and drink options offered in your restaurant, it is so much more than that! It is an internal advertising tool that every single patron of your restaurant, as well as online visitors, have access to. This document does much more than describe what people can expect to eat or drink, it should announce a brand, the vision, ethos, and develop expectations of guest experience.

Here are some tips for creating a successful menu design:

Get the chef involved. While anyone in your restaurant can jot down the food and drink choices, it is only the chef that can transform a boring list into an appetizing and enticing experience. By highlighting special ingredients and local and organic products, the menu can provide more details to your customers.

When creating a menu description, focus on senses, such as the look, taste and texture of food when describing the experience in your menu. Use descriptive words that will bring the image of the items to life! Words that fit with the overall restaurant design and brand image allow a customer’s imagination to run wild and get them excited about a particular dish. 

Focus on the Image. Consider that the layout, fonts, colours, images and type of paper used in the menu – this will not only describe the food, but will also speak volumes about the type of restaurant (casual or upscale), food (English or Mexican) and environment customers can expect. This pulls together the entire brand image in the restaurant design- focus on everything being aligned and in sync.

This includes how you display your menu… a menu board? A leather-bound menu? A graphically appealing colourful piece of paper? A menu your diners can colour in? Think about who your target market is and the brand or ethos you are spreading across your design. But remember… to stay on top of the game, get creative, be different.

Add value… show off! You can make a dish more enticing to a diner by highlighting the value of the dish. One strategy that is often used is geographic origin of the dish… e.g. New England Clams and Tuscan Olives. If you are a restaurant that serves a particular type of food, show off the region that the recipe comes from, make your customers curious and adventurous. The things that you can do with a simple word can be everything to adding value. 

Put thought and effort into it, show off the value of your restaurant, create expectations.. and more importantly fullfill them!