Menu Design: How to Design a Restaurant Menu in 6 Steps

Joanna Okedara
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    Your restaurant menu design is an integral part when building a positive customer experience management strategy. It’s also an important part of your restaurant’s unique selling proposition and marketing strategy.

    Key Takeaway: The experience of a customer will be negatively impacted by a menu that has an excessive number of products, poor writing, poor images, or an awkward design. Your customers will feel like they've made the perfect restaurant choice from the get-go if your menu is attractive and well-written and reflects your brand in a seamless manner.

    A well-designed menu can increase your revenue while improving the customer retention and experience, whether it is printed, available online, or displayed above a counter. Your menu is the primary tool that generates sales for your company, and menu engineering may increase sales and increase profitability.

    So, let’s look at some menu design ideas and the best practices on how to design a restaurant menu. 


    How to Design a Restaurant Menu in 6 Steps

    The chance for higher check averages is increased by listing modifiers to menu items and by placing side dishes and add-ons where visitors may easily be persuaded by them. A superb menu also aids your servers in upselling.

    A menu is a list of the foods and beverages that a restaurant serves, either printed or online. There are different types of menu you can create. Once you pick a type, you can start working on the design. There aren't many strict guidelines for creating a menu because each restaurant's requirements will be specific to its idea.

    You want your brand to be present everywhere your customers engage with your restaurant – on social media, on your website, in your actual décor, and on your menu. This results in a seamless and, most importantly, unforgettable experience.

    Simply follow this straightforward 6-step approach to build a restaurant menu if you don't have the money for a designer or menu engineering expert. You can also use a menu design template as a starting point.

    Designing a restaurant menu requires calculation and creativity. Let’s discuss top visual strategies to employ when creating your restaurant menu.

    1. List each item on the menu

    Learn how to write a restaurant menu before you start designing. Make a list of all the meals you wish to serve using Excel, a Google Sheet, or even just ink and paper. Google Sheets is excellent for this because it makes it simple to cut, copy, and paste various objects, and the sheet will immediately save.

    1. Sort Menu Items by Type

    Sort all the menu items into categories such as appetizers, main courses, desserts, and so forth. Decide which menu items you want to be featured most prominently on the menu after that. 

    For example, you might want appetizers to be the most prominent item on the menu, and you might want a specific appetizer to be at the top of the list based on its score on your menu engineering worksheet in terms of popularity and profit. Put your menu items in the precise order that you want them to display on the menu by simply moving them around.

    1. Define Menu Prices

    The most important element of a restaurant food menu is the price of the items on the menu and how you present them. Add your current prices if you're working from an earlier menu, then stand back and evaluate them.

    If you're actually beginning from scratch, you'll need to figure out how to price your menu so that you can make the most money while making your customers happy. Can you afford to change the price of this menu item slightly to make it more enticing based on the restaurant sales statistics in your point of sale system?

    The answer to this question will help you decide the best price for each item. Other things you should consider when setting a menu price are:

    • Food cost per serving
    • Contribution margin
    • Menu popularity
    • Labor costs
    • Utility costs
    1. Create Menu Descriptions

    The heartfelt and authentic meal descriptions are the finest. Write out a brief description of each menu item on your sheet after speaking with the chef who came up with the dishes. You can hire a copywriter to create the descriptions.

    When feasible, use tempting adjectives like crisp, tangy, sour, sweet, and crunchy to describe and describe your food. However, don't use them excessively.

    Think about the mental image a potential customer would have while reading your menu for the first time. As you add those details to your restaurant menu, consider what queries or clarifications a customer might have.

    1. Choose a Color Scheme for the Menu

    Once you've organized your menu items on the Google sheet in a logical manner, the next step in creating your restaurant menu is considering graphic design. Make sure that your colors work well together and that your theme is consistent when selecting a color scheme for your menu.

    Pick a color scheme for your menu that complements the identity of your restaurant. Choosing three colors for the menu or deciding to print your menu in black and white to save money on printing are both simple ways to do this.

    Your choice of colors can influence your customers' appetites. Vibrant colors, such as red, yellow, and orange, for instance, can whet your customers' appetites whereas hues, such as blue and purple, can quell their appetites.

    1. Design Your Restaurant’s Menu

    Now, here’s the hard part. You can use simple digital catalog making software,  Microsoft word or online menu management systems to create your restaurant menu design. If you don’t have the time to create it yourself, you can hire a designer and use the Google spreadsheet you created as a guide.

    When designing your restaurant menu, there are some best practices to follow. Let’s find out what they are.

    Top 5 Restaurant Menu Design Best Practices

    1. Menu Layout

    The three sections of your menu that most customers glance at first are known as the "Golden Triangle" by menu engineers. Your most popular menu items, such entrees and appetizers, should be placed here since customers' eyes are drawn to particular areas of your menu when they look at it.  

    The triangle has these three points:

    • Middle: Most customers start by scanning the center of your menu. Place your specials or limited menu items here; it works really well.
    • Top Right: The top right corner of the page is the second natural destination for your eyes. Numerous restaurants set their entrees or main course items here.
    • Top Left: Most customers look at the top left corner first from the top right corner. This is a popular spot for appetizers.

    Additionally, try to reduce your menu to one or two pages to avoid overwhelming your customers. As a tip, put your high profit and high demand products within the Golden Triangle of your menu.

    1. Create Menu Sections

    Set up the menu items logically and in a logical order, beginning with the appetizers, to make it simple for customers to find dishes. You should think about how many menu items you have and how they can be grouped or separated when developing the various parts that will appear on your menu. 

    Can you, for instance, split the appetizers and sandwiches in the main course section? Or perhaps you could further divide it into divisions for beef, chicken, pig, and seafood? To make it easier for your customers to find anything that interests them, it is ideal to be as descriptive as you can when designing sections.

    You should take into account the following additional restaurant menu ideas when designing your layout:

    • Make a separate dessert menu.
    • Have a menu of specialty beverages
    • Determine whether foods are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free
    • Bring specials to the forefront
    • Cut back on the pages
    1. Choose Menu Design and Theme

    You must make sure that the style you pick fits the premise of your company and is appealing to its target market. When deciding on a style for your menu, the following typical styles can help you get started:

    • Upscale: The number of graphics on the page is minimal or nonexistent, and the typography is typically intricate and fashionable.
    • Child-Friendly: The menus at family-friendly restaurants frequently feature a lot of pictures and vibrant colors that might pique the interest of the young diner.
    • Contemporary: The design of modern restaurant menus will primarily depend on the overall theme of your company.
    • Retro: These menus often feature many photographs on each page and a rustic, vintage design.
    1. Write the Menu

    You can give your menus flair and character by combining a variety of particular design elements, including text, graphics, and colors. The design of your menu, like the layout, will influence customers to purchase particular high-priced goods.

    Here are some guidelines for writing a menu:

    • Use images on your menu to describe your food
    • Decide on a color scheme
    • Choose a menu font and style of writing
    • Take the price tags off your menu
    1. Menu Printing

    When your menu design is complete, it's time to print and assemble your menu covers. Making a decision about the size of your menus is necessary before you can print them. When deciding on a size for your menus, take into account the layout you've chosen, the font size, and the quantity of items on your menu. 

    These are some typical menu sizes used by restaurant owners:

    • Menu for lunch: 8.5" x 11"
    • Menu for dinner: 8.5" x 11", 8.5" x 14", or 11" x 17"
    • Menu for beverages or desserts: 4.25"x11", 4.25"x14", or 5.5"x8.5"
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    Frequently Asked Questions About Menu Design

    Let’s answer some questions you may have about menu design.

    Where Do People Look First on a Menu?

    The upper right-hand corner of a menu, referred to in the industry as the "sweet spot," appears to be where diners' eyes tend to land first when they scan it. As a result, many restaurants place the dish that they hope to sell the most—often an expensive one—in that spot.

    What is Menu Preparation?

    A menu preparation is a thorough listing of the available foods and drinks along with their associated costs. It is created by businesses to inform customers about the availability of different food and drink items.

    What are the Rules of Writing a Menu?

    Here are some rules to follow when writing a menu:

    • Strategically prepare the food
    • Making it readable
    • Be detailed
    • Sort the menu items by category
    • Write in a way that reflects the character of your restaurant
    • Pricing should be clear
    • Let the design reflect your company

    And for the Final Touches

    The menu at your restaurant conveys a lot about both your food and your business. A good restaurant strategy includes a variety of elements, including clever menu design. It might be easier to use a menu management system like BlueCart to improve your menu management. 

    A simple, uninspired menu won't likely result in many sales, but one that has been thoughtfully styled will excite your customers and be more likely to generate revenue. In addition to highlighting your most popular dishes, make sure your menu accurately represents your food and aesthetic.

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