Mastering Your Menus

You don’t want to find your business on a scandalous list like this.

People mocking an unfortunately placed typo, or mistranslated word, unable to focus on the quality of your food or atmosphere. Some errors are common mistakes found on menus, and easy to spot. Others, are less commonly thought about but can be equally as damaging to your reputation.

1.) Keeping “NEW!” things on the menu as “NEW!” for far too long.

There is a time and place for this, but after a certain point how new is this ‘new item’. It makes more sense to simply put the menu on the items and have the servers announce if something new has been added. Or, if you do want to highlight it more temporarily, have a small card printed to be placed with the menu or signage in the common areas that can both be removed when the newness has worn off.

2.) Letting the Chef write descriptions entirely on their own.

While the chef may know his food best, it is best to let a professional copywriter, or at least an editor look over the spelling, grammar, and syntax. Customers can get an entirely different impression of a dish based on the wording and format of the description.

3.) Not including dietary restrictions/ ingredient information.

Informing customers of allergens and possible cross contamination is important. If all of your fried food is cooked in peanut oil, customers should know. If your sauce cannot come in a meat or dairy free version due to how its cooked as a large batch, also let them know. You don’t have to be so specific it bogs down the aesthetic of the whole menu but you know best what cooking techniques and recipes are special to your restaurant. Including small tags so vegan, vegetarian or kosher customers know what they can have is very valuable.

4.) Overexplaining/Underexplaining

This is what your servers or cashiers are for. Every question a customer could possibly have about substitutions or sides does not have to be listed on your paper menu. On the flip side, as mentioned before, under explaining will leave customers confused and bogging down servers with a million questions. It is a fine line; this is also why many people recommend having a copy writer on board to optimize the space.

5.) QR/Online Menu Use

If you are not using a QR menu right now, immediately start. QR menu’s are highly adaptable, sanitary, and cheap. They can remedy most of the problems listed above. They are editable anytime you want to add, change or delete something. No need for reprinting costs/wait times. Online ordering and QR menus allow customers to look ahead and speed up your wait times. It also allows you the space to add details you wouldn’t have on a paper menu.

These are just a handful of things to avoid when creating and designing a menu. It can be confusing to do alone and for the best results try to hire professionals. Copywriters, graphic designers, photographers etc., make their living making your business look good.

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