When developing a restaurant menu, whether it is for a brand new restaurant or a menu revamp, there are certain elements that one should take into consideration. I am going to share with you the three most common mistakes I see restaurants create in their menu developments. Keep in mind this is geared toward independent restaurants, not the large chains.
The first mistake I see is a lot of diversity. Now, lots of people might think this is a good thing but hear me out. Too much diversity creates confusion for your employees, your customers and your restaurant’s identity. Now this does not mean only serve burgers or fried chicken, this means stick with your restaurant’s theme and keep the menu simple. You do want to try and have something for everyone but you ought not put sushi on the menu beside pasta Bolognese. Try to keep the menu short, two pages at most. It is much better to do a couple of things really well than to do many things poor or mediocre at best.
The second error I see is inconsistent price point. There is a certain margin that things can differ but you do not want a $3 appetizer and a $12 appetizer just like you do not want a $10 entrée and a $40 entrée. Obviously you need to keep food cost and labor in mind however if your price point is all over the place, it makes it look like you are over charging in certain areas and selling cheap product in others. There’s a balance to be had.
The number three error I see, is restaurant owners/chefs making menus that their kitchens cannot handle. For example, putting fried food on the menu when there’s not any fryer, things that need plenty of prep and not enough storage or attempting to bake bread using a conveyor pizza oven. If you don’t have the correct equipment, change your thought or get the equipment necessary. We all like to push the envelope but some things just shouldn’t be done.
Again, these are only guidelines and my own observations from my many years in the hospitality industry, not hard fast rules. Menu growth can be stressful but it can also be plenty of fun.