6 Restaurant Menu Engineering Tips for a Profitable Menu

Joanna Okedara
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    There is far more to a menu than its visual and appetizing effects on customers. Restaurant menu engineering allows you to turn your menu into a money-bag. When done properly, menu engineering will streamline transactions, improve how customers view your restaurant business, and provide your bottom line a much-needed lift.

    Key Takeaway: Menu engineering will influence omnichannel customer experience and decision-making in addition to streamlining operations in the kitchen. Restaurant menu engineering requires a careful balancing act between placing the proper products on the menu at the right pricing points and being enticing enough to persuade people to order more via your online ordering platform.

    Once you have decided on the concept of the restaurant and who will be your targeted market, choosing the type of menu is next. Your primary attention should be on developing an alluring menu design that will leave a lasting impression on your customers. 

    If you are looking for a way to improve your restaurant sales processes and profitability, then menu engineering is the solution for you. Let’s look at top six restaurant menu engineering tips to get you started.


    Before we continue, let’s look at the components of restaurant menu engineering.

    4 Components of Restaurant Menu Engineering

    There are normally four components to restaurant menu engineering:

    1. Psychology - It's important to continually think about how your restaurant's food will be perceived by the customers. What feelings do they get after seeing the menu? Is the menu visually appealing enough to draw customers in and encourage them to order the high-profit items? When designing a restaurant menu, you must consider each of these.
    2. Managerial accounting - Restaurant menu engineering's main objective is to persuade clients to order the high-profit products. The restaurant's profits is directly impacted by how much it charges for its menu items, thus it must be done carefully.
    3. Marketing and strategy - Even if the server doesn't do much, the menu in a restaurant has the opportunity to upsell and sell items. Restaurant menu engineering includes important considerations for how you display and use the menu to promote your food.
    4. Graphic design - Your restaurant's menu's layout, appearance, and design all have a significant impact on how your customers see you.

    By integrating fundamental design principles and the components of menu engineering with a few key understandings of customer psychology, you can produce these results:

    • Clarify the idea behind your business
    • Optimize the customer experience
    • Drive customer decision by enhancing brand image 
    • Boost profits by stimulating appetite
    • Increase your efficiency
    • Reduce the restaurant's food expenses
    • Cut back on food waste

    Top 6 Restaurant Menu Engineering Tips

    You should keep the following fantastic restaurant menu engineering advice in mind when you create your menu.

    1. Decide on a Central Idea and Emphasize it on the Menu

    The menu captures the essence of what you want to offer as a restaurant.

    Consider your restaurant's original concept first, and then ask yourself, "What value do I want to provide to my customers?" “What is my unique selling proposition?” For example, it might read "a tasty and unique local experience," "quick and simple meals," "vegan foods from locally produced wholesale produce," and so on.

    Find a way to incorporate the answer you've discovered into your menu when you've found it. Make sure it accurately reflects and communicates your business goals, whether it is physical or digital. Consider adopting a clean one-page layout with the golden triangle if your idea is focused on speedy delivery and simple meals.

    1. Keep the Traditional Favorites in Mind

    The traditional and time-tested favorites must be kept while creating the restaurant menu. Even though it is acceptable to desire your menu to be interesting and modern. To guarantee a consistent stream of orders, it is always advised to have a few tried-and-true, very profitable menu items. 

    Consider a burger and fries as an example. They can be served plain or with anything added to them, such as a Peri Peri burger with pepper jack cheese. In either case, it will remain on your menu for a long time.

    1. Try to Stick With a Restaurant Menu with Affordable Food Prices

    During the menu engineering process, keeping your food costs low should be a top emphasis. The price of food is now the actual cost of producing the dishes on your restaurant's menu. A meal that costs a lot to make will cost a lot to eat. 

    For instance, your meal will be expensive if it features truffles, salmon, or caviar. This does not, however, imply that the food you serve should be the cheapest because maintaining a standard of quality is also crucial. To have a respectable profit margin, you must strike a balance between your food costs.

    1. Fewer Options on the Restaurant Menu

    Create a menu for your restaurant that is scannable, slidable, and brief. Instead of feeling like you're doing the gallon challenge, reading through the pages of your menu should be like taking a relaxing sip of wine.

    Too many menu options might have a detrimental psychological effect on your customers. If there are too many choices, customers might become confused and end up choosing the food they typically have.

    Seven is regarded as the magic number for menu items. Try to offer at least seven dishes in each category, such as an appetizer, main meal, and so on.

    1. Keep Simple-to-Prepare Items on Your Restaurant's Menu

    The complexity of your menu items may hinder the efficiency of your kitchen staff during peak dining hours. Sometimes simple is good.

    For instance, if you need to make and serve a dish that takes about 45 minutes during peak lunch or dinner hours, it can not only sluggish your kitchen personnel but also the entire kitchen operations. As a result, try to stick to foods that are simple to make and can be presented beautifully.

    1. Always Keep in Mind your Intended Audience

    You must keep your intended audience in mind as you develop restaurant menus. You can then price your restaurant menu to reflect the tastes of your patrons with the use of this information. If you're launching a fine dining establishment, for instance, you need to know that your target market will consist of people who are ready to treat themselves to luxury. 

    Due to the fact that your consumers can afford it, you can thus charge a little more for excellent menu items like Salmon and Sushi. Prior to starting to create your restaurant menu, determine who you are targeting and conduct market research to learn about their likes, preferences, and financial capabilities.

    Restaurant Menu Engineering Matrix Best Practices

    The menu engineering matrix is a tool used by restaurateurs to evaluate their menu items based on two main factors: customer satisfaction and profitability. Your menu engineering strategy might be driven by these categories in a number of different ways. 

    Let's take a look at some best practices for using the menu engineering matrix to boost business at your restaurant.

    • Make sure your customers can easily see your Stars (items that are both well-liked and profitable) by applying design or layout tricks. Keep in mind that consistency is the key in this situation, so maintain the momentum and continue to market them as is.
    • Dogs, on the other hand, operate in the opposite manner (poor-performing and costly items). You'll need to get rid of these or reinvent them utilizing what you've learned from your Star dishes.
    • Moving on, Plow Horses are popular requests, although they don't yield much money. It's possible that the ingredients are overpriced. Try making changes to the recipes you already have or looking for suppliers who are more reasonably priced to ensure they contribute more to your profits.
    • Puzzles. Although they have high profit margins, your customers don't exactly love them. Time to determine the cause. Find creative strategies to promote these foods, whether the issue is the price, a lack of promotion, or a weak spot on your menu.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Menu Engineering Tips

    It can be challenging to understand menu engineering. Even after conducting thorough market research and understanding consumer psychology, you might not be able to design an outstanding restaurant menu.


    Let’s answer some questions about menu engineering.

    What is a Menu Matrix?

    A menu matrix is a thorough and organized breakdown of every menu item, typically presented in the form of a spreadsheet or database. In order for team members to use the matrix to study the menu, it is updated by the chef or management when the menu changes.

    What is Menu Mix?

    A menu mix is a balanced, strategically constructed menu with diverse and alluring profit margins throughout the board. Having a low cost and high cost item sold to the customer at a close price difference is an illustration of this.

    What is the Rule of Sevens for Menu Design?

    The maximum number of items for each menu category, including the number of appetizers, entrées, desserts, and beverages, should be seven, according to menu engineers. New menu best practices adhere to the less-is-more tenet, in contrast to previous menu strategies that sought to cater to everyone.

    Getting the Most of It

    If you use a few of these menu engineering hints, your restaurant menu will undoubtedly start to operate more like a seamless selling system rather than just a plain presentation page. After all is said and done, you notice a higher profit margin while your dine-out customers gain from a better dining experience.

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