Six Ways to Spring Clean Your Menu
It’s time to shake off the winter doldrums and spring ahead with a freshly re-engineered menu. For this spring clean-up, neatness doesn’t count, but sales, cost and profitability do.
We turned to menu engineering expert Greg Rapp, who’s been finding the hidden profits on restaurant menus for the last three decades. He offers these tips to help you emerge from your highest-cost season, winter, with a new look that will delight your customers and fatten your bottom line.
- Location, location, location. Identify your best-selling items and place them on the menu for greatest visibility. Make it easy for customers to find these profit makers by boxing the item, writing a longer description, including a picture and placing it as the first item on the list or using a small signature symbol to draw attention to it.
- Categorize. Further reinforce the value of your items by adding the category name. For example, in the salad section, refer to your dish as a Buffalo Chicken Salad and not just Buffalo Chicken.
- Brush up on romance language. Adding better descriptions takes the value of your food up and the cost down in the customer's mind. Make sure your steaks and other high profit items have great descriptions that will distinguish them from your competition across the street. Adding a backstory not only informs and educates your guests, it elevates your dish from commodity to special. For example: “This is the Cobb Salad recipe that was served at our Chef Andre's wedding reception,” or “This recipe was developed by our Chef's great grandmother in Tekamah, Nebraska.”
- Search out lower-profile items to build your menu around. Pity the less expensive cuts of meat or lesser known ingredients – their problem may just be a poor PR team, but you can use their under-the-radar status to your advantage. Challenge your team to try and make these items work well in your recipes. If making crab cakes, consider backfin crab meat as an alternative to the more costly expensive lump crab meat – using the expensive kind to mash up for crab cakes is a waste of money.
- Take the focus off of price on the menu. Eliminate leader dots and dollar signs, which direct attention to the price. Listing prices almost forces your guests to consider and order by price. To combat this, write your newly romanced menu description, followed by a period, add two spaces and then insert the price in the same font.
- Spread some springtime on the menu. Highlight a few seasonal items to give your menu a fresh feel...Copper River salmon and mint juleps for Kentucky Derby parties, and plenty of produce and fruits like sweet peas, asparagus, radishes, artichokes and strawberries.