Menu length can be a hotly debated topic. Some bigger restaurant chains, for instance, would say go large. That way, there’s something for everyone from kale nibblers to steak lovers. Regulars may also feel like there’s something new to try.
It’s Tempting to Edit
There’s a case to be made for a streamlined menu though. Starting with labor. Prep time goes down, as well as the chance for kitchen staff errors. There’s also less food waste for you and the planet with a tighter menu that can be tracked more easily.
Table turnarounds also happen faster. Not only do guests choose their orders more quickly, but kitchen and wait staff get into a faster rhythm as well. What’s more, this leaner menu approach helps you source more fresh, local ingredients vs. keeping food frozen.
Reducing Customer Overwhelm
According to The Restaurant Times, “Customers spend an average of 109 seconds looking at the menu before deciding what to eat. This is the window you have to sell your most profitable dish to your customers. Doing so is very hard when there are too many options.” When the menu overwhelms, customers often choose something safe and less profitable. A less focused menu may also make it harder for your restaurant to leave a clear, lasting impression. You want to make it easy for guests to tell friends why they should try you.
Short & Sweet Menu Design
Work with a designer to place your most profitable offerings on the most visible parts of your menu. Think about the golden triangle, which BookMyOrder says is to go where your customers’ eyes go first, “People first tend to focus on the center of the page, then move their eyes to the top right, and lastly to the top left in a triangle pattern.” In other words, keep what you want guests to order most at the center or top of the menu. Also remember, fewer choices leave you room to add photography of your best dishes for both paper and online menus.
Small Can Be Exciting
A short menu doesn’t have to be boring. Some restaurants with smaller menus rotate their offerings daily or weekly. And why not incorporate key specials to spice things up? Adding a variety of toppings for main courses and sides is another way to add zip to a pared-down menu.
Not Everything Should Shrink
Guests come to your restaurant for a delicious breakfast or a big night out. That means thinking through everything from ambiance to al fresco possibilities.
Some of our clients double their footprint by adding a patio enclosure for three-season or year-round patio dining. More weather-proofed tables mean more profits. And when a sudden rain shower causes mischief, you’re no longer scrambling to move people indoors to tables that are already taken. Ask one of our experts for a free consultation to learn more, including how to keep a custom patio enclosure affordable.