A seemingly simple job becomes complicated since certain rules must be followed in order to design a good menu. It must be done by a professional who is knowledgeable of those rules.
This article attempts to simplify and clarify some basic points in writing a menu so that confusion on customers’ faces when seeing the restaurant’s offer can be avoided.
Menu is a presentation of a restaurant’s food and beverage offer with marked prices. Prices of particular meals are designated for one, sometimes for two people, for one meal or by the kilogram of food.
According to international professional terminology, menu is simply a “meal card,” therefore the phrase “a la carte” i.e. “according to the card” is often used.
Menu is written according to certain rules in order to have a clear presentation of meals and beverages and their prices.
When determining the content of a menu, the following must be kept in mind:
- needs, wishes, habits and customs of potential customers,
- customer spending power,
- expert knowledge and abilities of kitchen and service staff,
- restaurant’s technical equipment,
- ability to obtain certain foods throughout the whole year,
- what competition has to offer and at what prices.
Menu must contain meals (priced accordingly) the guests with accept and readily consume so that a restaurant could make a good profit as well. Along with restaurant interior design and personnel training, carefully designed menu plays a large part in sales. Menu selection firstly depends on the restaurant type, followed by the time of day, particular season, etc.
Menu must be written by the most qualified staff of the restaurant, main chefs and managers, but professional menu designers can be hired as well. Menu is most often printed on paper, with covers containing photographs of restaurant’s interior, restaurant logo, or photographs of cultural-historic monuments, various nature scenes, national ornaments, etc.
General rules to follow in menu design
When writing a menu, certain rules are important:
- menu must be clear, i.e. meals must be organized into groups and listed in the order they are served in,
- menu must be easily readable, neat and interesting,
- menu should have no grammatical mistakes, otherwise the guest will get an impression of superficiality and unprofessionalism,
- menu must be “honest,” otherwise the guests are consciously deceived when not served what is listed on the menu,
- menu translation into a foreign language must be correct; every menu must be constructed professionally and with knowledge, so that when reading it, the guest can recognize the motivation and enthusiasm the restaurant is lead by.
Special types of menus
Restaurants can have menus designed for particular customer groups, such as:
- menu for children
- menu for athletes
- menu for vegetarians
- low fat menu
- macrobiotic menu
- menu for the elderly
Here are some more tips when it comes to menu design:
- Keep in mind that the menu is one of the advertising tools of the restaurant.
- Replace old and damaged menus with new ones, thus avoiding bad first impressions of guests.
- On menu title page, print the restaurant’s address, telephone number, or the year it was founded if it’s a restaurant with old tradition.
- Menu is placed on the waiter’s working station and never left in front of the guest when an order is taken.
Menus can also include daily specials added to their standard content. They are determined depending on the season, available ingredients, etc. Specials, with prices included, can be printed on a smaller peace of paper and inserted into the regular menu.
Good to know – Talking menu
Regarding menu types, necessary to mention is also a talking menu, designed for people who are visually impaired.
It is a very helpful electronic device the size of a book, equipped with buttons, head-phones, and a text written in Braille. When a person completes an order, a lamp on the menu is lit inviting the service staff.