I’d like to start this first blog post by saying hi. Let me introduce not only myself but my business and the inspiration to write this said blog post; my company is Stratecute, pronounced strat-i-kyoot, a company focused on marketing and logistics for hospitality-based businesses, ie. restaurants, bars, hotels, distributors, retailers, etc. The name, Stratecute, is a combination of both the words strategy and execution, two things I believe are most important to building a strong program or business – but more on that another time.
Me? I’m a thirteen plus-year veteran of the restaurant and hospitality business searching for people that can use my brains and know-how to make them more successful with their alcohol and food-based businesses, whether they already exist or in the planning stages. So, now that we’re acquainted, let’s move on to our topic of discussion…menus.
Before I sat down to write this blog post (the first-ever in my entire life) I had to ask myself, what are the biggest problems that restaurant/bar and hotel owners face? With a quick search, menus seemed like the obvious winner…outside of capital and sanity of course.
As someone who has spent her life in restaurants, both working in, managing and sitting on the fun side of the bar, I have to agree. Menus are the main marketing component for any entity, after all, people are generally visiting an establishment to eat and drink. I know we just met, but I have to admit, I’m a menu collector…I may or may not have a box of menus I’ve requisitioned from a variety of establishments. So, in honor of my first blog post, and our topic, which happens to be one of my favorites, I’ve created a list of do’s and don’ts to make your menu the best possible:
– Font Size – This is a big one, especially given the fact that the whole point of a menu is to be able to read it. I implore you, just as a chef should sit down and eat his/her food, we should be sitting down to read our menus in the same lighting as the guest. This is the best way to make sure your font is not too small to read, and if you’re questioning it, it’s probably too small. To avoid making the font too small, considering decreasing the total word count, or adjusting your letter or letter spacing.
– Don’t Use Dollar Signs – Cornell University published a study in 2009 that proved that patrons presented with a menu contain dollars signs spent less money than patrons presented with menus that did not contain dollar signs ($ or Dollars, Yang et. al., 2009). My $1,000,000 advice to you, is to lose the $.
– Descriptions – While I am a minimalist in most aspects of my life, studies show otherwise for menu descriptions. The right, crafted descriptions give the perception, real or otherwise, that this menu item can’t be reproduced at home and therefore it’s worth it, aka more value for the guest (The Effects of Restaurant Menu Item Descriptions on Perceptions of Quality, Price, and Purchase Intent, M. McCall, 2008)
This article by Katie Schenke outlines a few other tips for menu descriptions: https://www.rewardsnetwork.com/blog/menu-descriptions-matter/
– Sweet & Sour – While the sweet spot for menu placement is debated, it was determined that the least reviewed area of the menu is the bottom left corner. As a result, maybe the item that produces the least amount of profit dollars should be placed here?
– Branding – As noted previously, your menu is probably the most important marketing tool for your guests, as a result, don’t forget to include your brand/brand elements. Utilize a brand style guide to be consistent with font types, styles, colors, imagery, language, etc. Don’t have one of these said brand style guides, you can email us directly and we’ll get you squared away. The point of branding is to have a guest recognize your brand in the blink of an eye (and associate positive feelings with your brand). Use your menu as a tool to convey your concept, and the experience you want people to take away after they’ve dined in your establishment.
– Get Creative – In a world full of competition, it pays to stand out, and as mentioned previously your menu is THE marketing tool for guests, so I encourage you to be creative, like the restaurants here (https://www.image3d.com/corporate/blog/2012/business-reels/restaurant-menu-reels/) that decided to use an old-school view master to showcase their menus. The point of a hospitality business is to not only to feed and drink people but to also provide them with an experience, why not do this with your menu?
Hopefully, you read this post in its entirety, finding it somewhat thought-provoking and challenging. With that in mind, I would like to challenge you; I challenge you to test the theories I’ve listed above. Develop a new menu (in all your spare time…I know, I know), and see how the items sell based on the tactics I’ve outlined above. And, if time gets the best of you, well, that’s what I am here for. If your creative juices just aren’t quite there, because they’re caught behind dollar signs, that’s what I am here for. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more menu strategy ideas, quotes, or questions or click the button below to contact us.
I’ve outlined one of our recent menu re-designs/layouts in the images below. The goal was to assist the restaurant with food and beverage sales, as well as improve their overall beverage execution logistics. The result was an easier-to-read menu with a product-driven purpose, better logistics for all FOH staff, and a three times increase in sales.
Tokio – a sushi and ramen restaurant in downtown Denver, Colorado. The new menu design was executed in Word. Tokio requested to maintain their menu in Word so they could continue to edit the menu themselves, as opposed to the traditional menu design programs *insert relevant adobe suite program here.*
Additionally, we kept the overall size and watermark design to avoid changing things too drastically for both the restaurant and its’ guests.
As our blog relationship continues, you’ll find I’m very scientifically minded. I love researching, reading, and reviewing any ideas and theories. If you’ve got something juicy, send it my way. Let’s chat about the next big thing, controversial, or new, or even old, to the hospitality industry.
- 1$ or Dollars: Effects of Menu-price Formats on Restaurant Checks, S. Yang, S. Kimes Ph.D., M. Sessarego, Cornell University, 2009
- 2The Effects of Restaurant Menu Item Descriptions on Perceptions of Quality, Price, and Purchase Intent, M. McCall, 2008
- 3Eye Movements on Restaurant Menus: A Revisitation on Gaze Motion and Consumer Scanpaths, S. Yang, Cornell University,