Common Menu Mistakes

Cafe, Restaurant, Menu, Coffee

When developing a restaurant menu, whether it is for a brand new restaurant or a menu revamp, there are certain factors that one should take into account. I am going to share with you the three most frequent mistakes I see restaurants create in their menu developments. Bear in mind this is geared toward independent restaurants, not the large chains.

The first mistake I see is too much diversity. Now, lots of folks may think this is a fantastic thing but hear me out. Too much diversity creates confusion to your employees, your clients and your restaurant’s identity. Now this doesn’t mean only serve hamburgers 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 should not place sushi on the menu next to pasta Bolognese. It is much better to do a few things really well than to do many things bad or poor at best.

The next error I see is inconsistent cost point. By way of instance, each item category should be around the same price. There’s a certain margin that things can differ but you do not want to have a $3 appetizer and a $12 appetizer just like you do not want to have a $10 entrée plus a $40 entrée. Obviously you need to keep food cost and labor in your mind however if your price point is all over the place, it makes it seem as if you’re over charging in certain areas and selling cheap product others. There’s a balance to be had.

The number three mistake I see, is restaurant owners/chefs creating menus that their kitchens cannot handle. For instance, placing fried food on the menu if there’s not any fryer, things that require plenty of prep and not enough storage or trying to bake bread using a conveyor pizza oven. If you don’t have the proper equipment, change your idea or get the equipment necessary. We all like to push the envelope but some things just should not be done.

Again, these are merely guidelines and my own observations from my many years in the hospitality business, not hard fast rules. Menu development can be stressful but it can also be a lot of fun. Have fun with it, be creative and take chances.

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