Monday, September 10, 2012

4Q Consulting | Restaurant Consulting NYC | What to Skip When Writing Your Restaurant Menu

Things to steer clear of on Restaurant Menus


Just Say No to clip art on your restaurant menu
As we head into fall and restaurants starting rolling out their new menus, it is a great time to analyze what your menu says about your business.
Menus are the heart of any restaurant; they are your customers’ introduction to their experience at your establishment, and showcase everything you have to offer for food and drink. While menus can be as diverse and varied as the restaurants they represent, a menu should be:

  • Easy to Read;
  • Easy to Understand;
  • Make your dishes sound appealing.

There are also certain things you should avoid when designing your restaurant menu. Read on for things to skip before you go to the printer.

Here are 5 things to steer clear of when writing your menus:

Hard to Read Fonts – Fonts are fun to play around with, but when it comes to writing your restaurant menu, simple is best. Make sure your font ties into the restaurant’s overall marketing and branding. Stay away from cursive, all bold or all capitalized text. Make sure you choose a font and font size that can be easily read during dinner hours – when the lighting tends to be darker.
Too Much Technical Jargon – Just because you keep a copy of Food Lover’s Companion on your desk, don’t assume your patrons do. Before you start throwing around a lot of culinary terms the masses may not understand, consider your audience. Even if your restaurant is an upscale, fine dining establishment, your menu descriptions should still be understandable. A few well-placed terms like saut√© or mole (pronounced MOL-lay), will add just enough flavor to your menu, without frustrating customers. Of course, always make sure you staff is trained to answer any and all questions about the menu.
Itemized Menus – Avoid saying exactly how many pieces of food come in a dish. For example, don’t say “six jumbo shrimp” when describing shrimp cocktail. Simply saying “jumbo shrimp” will suffice. This way you can adjust portion control to keep your food costs in line. If you have to cut back to five shrimp instead of the advertised six, customers will notice and will feel cheated when they only get five.
Menu Disclaimers – Most menus will have a disclaimer or two in fine print on the bottom; some are required by law. Common disclaimers include: “gratuity will be added to parties of six or more” , “there is a health risk of consuming undercooked or raw shellfish and animal protein” or “Kids menu available only for those 12 and under.” Those are all fine but don’t go crazy with the disclaimers - Customers eat out to enjoy, not be told what you won’t do for them.
Clip Art – Believe it or not, I have seen clip art on menus in all types of restaurants! Most word processing and publishing programs come with a wide assortment of clip art for both business and personal use. It is tempting to use clip art in your menu – it is easy to add, with a wide variety of images. But clip art inevitably makes a menu look like it was done on a home computer. It lacks the polish of professional photographs or graphic designs featuring your restaurant’s logo. A graphic designer can help you design something that will make your restaurant menu stand out.

More Tips for Writing Your Restaurant Menu

Don’t laminate your menu. Professional laminating (because we agree that do-it-yourself laminating looks cheap and tacky) will quickly get expensive if you have to reprint your menus every six months, which is not uncommon. Instead, invest in menu jackets or covers that have clear sleeves. These allow you to update with new items or price changes, or replace because of wear and tear. Cost then is not a factor to make a change, and you can change as often as you need or want, which is a good business strategy overall.

Proof Read! And have others read it too! There is nothing worse than having spelling mistakes on your menus! Hire a professional copywriter, if need be. Have a sample audience read your menu and give you feedback. And don’t just give it to family and friends. Give it to people who you know will give you an honest opinion. Ask them:

  • Is easy to read?
  • Do they understand the descriptions?
  • Does it make your dishes sound appealing?

Let us show you how the 4Q Consulting Approach can work for you!
4Q Consulting, LLC leverages in-depth expertise in all aspects of restaurant consulting and hospitality operations; we create client-specific solutions that drive measurable business improvement.

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