May 14, 2015

6 Tips for Making Restaurant Menus More Effective


Strong marketing is obviously a big part of running a successful restaurant. When it comes to developing the right marketing plan for your eatery, you should probably divide your strategy into two parts: how to get people to into your restaurant and how to get them to order a lot of food while they are there. Restaurant menu design is important for both parts.

We are going to focus on one of the most fundamental issues related to that second part of your strategy. The way your menu looks is really important. In fact, the menu design is practically a science. There are studies that have been conducted that show what people look at when they open a menu and how you need to be organizing and designing your layout in order to get the best results.

So if you are looking to give your menus a makeover and make them more effective, here are six simple tips to get you started.

Highlight Your Best Selling Items

Some restaurateurs wrongfully assume that they should forego promoting their best selling items and, instead, highlight some dishes that aren’t really doing that well. You should actually be doing the complete opposite. Promoting your most popular dishes is the best way to keep people coming to your restaurant.

When you have a dish that is selling well, there must be is a reason behind it, right? The reason is usually pretty simple – it’s a really good dish! People will be coming back for their favorite dishes, and eventually, they’ll want to try something else from your menu as well.

That’s why you should always place the most popular dish choices within the top two or three choices of each category of your menu. If you’re going to be boxing some items on the menu, you should be boxing the highest grossing, most popular items on your menu.

The bottom line – make sure that your best-selling dishes get the most attention.

Use Symbols and Icons

It has been shown in studies that using symbols and icons helps to draw attention to items on your menu. Not only that, but they can be used to improve the general design of your menu and make them more readable.

Using a star can show diners that this item on the menu is either very good or a popular item. You can also use symbols to denote vegetarian or vegan items on the menu, instead of having to write it out or create a special section on the menu for them.

One friendly tip would be to avoid using the heart icon. It usually equates with something being healthy or “good for your heart,” which usually translates to customers as “bland and tasteless.”

Make Price a Minor Issue

Your menu should always focus on what you have to offer and not how much items cost. Promoting things like dollar menus or cheaper items is usually not a tactic that ends up working to a restaurant’s advantage.

It’s also a good idea to decrease the size of the font of the prices. Either make the prices smaller than the rest of the description or keep it all uniform. Taking out the dollar sign is another good idea to take the focus away from the price.

Ideally, you want your customers to choose what they are going to eat according to what sounds and looks good, not what’s cheapest.

Avoid Generic Terms

When you are naming the sections and categories of your menu, it’s a good idea to get pretty specific. For example, instead of simply piling all of your options under “Breakfast,” divide them into categories like “Omelets” or “Sandwiches” to give people a better idea of what you are offering.

Instead of “Entrees,” give a more specific description of what you are offering, like “Pastas” or “Burgers.”

This makes it easier for customers to decide on what they want to eat. These keywords help to bring specific sections of your menu to their attention more quickly.

Decrease the Size of Descriptions

Less really is more when it comes to describing your menu items to your customers. Instead of mentioning every ingredient and writing an adjective-filled description that’s worthy of a magazine review, keep your description short and to the point.

If you’re not good at doing this, hire a copywriter to help you make your descriptions as enticing as possible with the smallest possible word count. A lot of restaurateurs feel the need to use every inch of their menus, but it’s really not necessary. Having some empty space will make your menus that much more readable and less tiring to go through.

The same thing goes for pictures. It’s nice to have a great picture of some of your main dishes, but you really don’t need pictures for every other item on your menu. Also, if you are going to add pictures, make sure that they are taken by professionals and not just something your server took with his or her smartphone.

Use Inserts

Using menu inserts is one of the best ways to keep your customers interested in your menu. It’s also one of the best ways to market new additions to your menu and further promote your most popular dishes.

Putting new inserts into your menu periodically lets customers know that you are always trying new things and refreshing your offers. Also, inserts always give your servers a nice topic to talk about when greeting your customers.

They also provide a good way to test new items. Put these new dishes on your inserts and have your servers mention them. After a while, you will be able to gauge whether or not the dish is doing well, after which you can decide whether it’s something you want to include on the regular menu.


Just like with most aspects of marketing, designing your menu is something that is a constant work in progress. In order to achieve the best results, you need to be continuously tweaking your menu and trying new things while keeping track of what methods are giving you the best results.