Your restaurant is your dream–and your livelihood–which is why you take such pains to promote it at every opportunity. If you’ve worked hard to draw people into your establishment, now is not the time to slack off. You can keep customers interested and coming back again and again with one simple thing–your menu.
Whether yours is a small mom-and-pop diner or a five-star restaurant, you’ll find the best menus all share a few key ingredients. All good menus should:
1. Keep It Simple and To The Point
You’ve got a great selection of dishes to choose from. Why not let your patrons know what they are? While you may be tempted to play with a sophisticated font, make sure your menu is easy to decipher and with large enough print that it doesn’t put off older or visually impaired customers.
Of course, it’s not just about the print size and font. What meals does your restaurant serve? Breakfast and lunch? Lunch and dinner? Are you open round the clock? Breaking your menu out into appetizers, drinks, and meal categories and then further into the types of dishes you offer under each category makes it easy for your patrons to find and choose their preferences. And if a variety of sides are offered? List them at the top of each category. In this way, no one has to go searching for their options.
Easy-to-read and organized menus make ordering quicker and put fewer demands on your already busy waitstaff.
2. Choose Your Visuals Wisely
Have you ever decided to try a recipe you saw in a magazine? What drew you to check out the ingredients and the work involved in preparing it? Chances are it was the photo presentation. If an eye-catching image of a menu item gets your mouth watering and your tastebuds tingling, you’re that much more likely to try it. Pair those quality images together with tantalizing descriptions and clear pricing, and you’ve got a winning combination.
The key here is to be eye-catching. Don’t overwhelm your customers with too many colors that have their eyes flitting all over your menu, unable to settle on anything. Limit your color palette to two or three key colors that tie everything together, and reinforce that tie-in with one of those same key colors as your page borders.
Forcing your first-time customers to struggle to choose between multiple tempting dishes is a good predicament. If they enjoy their first experience, they’re likely to come back to try the one they passed on at their first outing.
3. Showcase Your Brand
The restaurant business is a highly competitive market. So you need to communicate what makes your establishment stand out as better than all the rest. This is where building up your brand is so important.
Your brand, including such items as your logo, your font, your color scheme, your tagline, your decor, and even your company values needs to be consistent in every piece of marketing you use. And that includes your menu. All of these items work together to create an emotional connection between your restaurant and your customers.
When done well, branding creates a certain positive feel for first-time customers. Branding is essential in developing repeat, loyal customers.
4. List Allergens + Nutritional Information
Today’s modern diners are a bit more discerning than they were 20 or 30 years ago. If they’re allergic to eggs or nuts or require a gluten-free diet, they want to know what ingredients and nutritional benefits are in the foods on your menu.
You may not be required by law to include all of this information, but leaving it out would be foolish.
Listing allergen and nutritional information on your menu demonstrates to your patrons that you care about their health and safety. And by offering a variety of foods that accommodate common dietary restrictions, including vegetarian and vegan dishes, that’s one more segment of the dining population your restaurant can capture!