The menu is a reflection of a restaurant's concept, brand, and personality. A well-designed and thoughtfully crafted menu can capitalize on psychological tricks to encourage guests to order the most profitable items.
Menus are also oftentimes the first thing customers will see when they enter an eatery. These catalogs should captivate diners' attention and leave a lasting first impression. By doing so, it will drive customers to frequent the restaurant and create a positive impact on revenue.
There are various menu-engineering methods that restaurants can use to appeal to customers and subtly influence their ordering decisions.
Experts in menu engineering state that people will generally read a menu using the Golden Triangle method. This refers to a reading pattern where the reader's eyes tend to start in the center of the page, and then scan to the top right, and then the top left.
Some researchers also say that people's eyes will gravitate immediately to the top of the page and scan from left to right like they are reading a book.
These patterns are important to consider when designing a menu because restaurants can capitalize on these focal points. For example, restaurateurs can put their most profitable dishes at the top right, top left, and middle of the menu. This will ensure that guests see these products first.
White space, also known as negative space, can make menus easier to comprehend and will enhance the aesthetics of the page. By having less clutter, guests can identify different menu items and read their descriptions.
Having white space will also allow restaurant owners to highlight their name, logo, and menu variety.
Menus are easier to process when there is a visual direction that guides readers through the page. Restaurants can do this by incorporating creative designs, such as boxes, lines, colors, and illustrations.
These elements will make it easier for guests to navigate the different menu options. It can also attract their attention to dishes and beverages that have high-profit margins.
For example, a menu can highlight the eatery's most popular items by listing them in a box at the center of the page. To make these options stand out more, the box can be in a different color, complementary to the colors on the rest of the menu.
According to a study by Cornell, guests spent significantly more money when they received a menu that did not have the dollar sign ($), compared to those that had traditional menus with the currency symbol.
Therefore, when listing prices of items on the menu, the dollar sign should be omitted to encourage guests to order more. Additionally, it is recommended that prices be indicated next to the name of the product and not in a single column. By doing so, guests will be less likely to compare prices between menu items.
A long menu can overwhelm customers and make it harder for them to choose which items they should order. While it seems considerate to give guests an abundance of choices, having a long menu can lead to negative consequences.
For instance, since guests will have to take a longer time to decide on what to order, the table turnover rate will decrease, meaning fewer customers will be served.
By curating a concise menu with unique options, diners can make quick decisions and restaurants will be able to operate productively. These menus will also help back-of-house employees, such as kitchen staff, work more efficiently since the menu options will be easier to manage and perfect.
The descriptions of menu items should be worded in ways that convey the restaurant's brand, as well as entice guests to order the dish. When detailing the ingredients or taste, words such as buttery, aromatic, or decadent, should be used.
These vivid descriptions will create gustatory imagery in diner's minds, making them interested to try the dish. It will also give them \ insight into what they can expect from the menu item.
Incorporating high-quality photos onto a menu will allow customers to have a preview of what their order will look like. Restaurants should prioritize photographing dishes with high-profit margins and place them on the menu to attract attention.
For some restaurants, printing photos with color may be too expensive. Instead, they can utilize social media to post photos of their menu items. This is much more cost-efficient and it will allow guests to view their options at any time or place.
Physical menus should be accessible for all guests to use. For example, printing copies in a larger font will ensure that customers who have poor vision will be able to read the menu.
Additionally, laminating the pages of the menu will enhance its durability and protect it from any wrinkles or smudges. With a menu that is easier to clean, restaurants won't have to spend time and money on regularly printing new copies.
The contents of the menu and the quality of ingredients will ultimately determine customer retention. However, curating a thoughtfully designed menu will effectively strengthen a restaurant's brand, create a positive first impression, and increase sales.