Menu Modification: Controlling Costs vs. A Personalized Experience

Every palette is different. Though you’ve worked hard to perfect every dish on your menu, many a customer will inevitably request variations. These could be as simple as extra cheese, a side of dressing, or a hold on the pickles, or as complicated as an ingredient substitution or even an alternate cooking method. Where do you draw the line? Is order customization too much of a hassle for your kitchen, or well worth the extra time and trouble? Here are some of the Pros and Cons to giving your customers the green light to modify your menu:


When you price a meal for its value, you may have to pass costs for extras to the customer. Allowing guests to make too many changes to your menu can have negative effects on your costs and affect profit margins as well. However, customers can be put off when accompanying sides and sauces require an additional charge. As an owner, this can be tricky ground to navigate.

For instance, you may decide to offer free refills on coffee and iced tea, but charge a fee for soda. This is where communication plays an important role. Servers are the all-important link between your kitchen and your customers. They should be well-trained on your protocol for menu modification, and inform the customer up front and in a tactical manner if it’s their responsibility to pay for these modifications.

Without proper communication, both the server and patron can be placed in an awkward position. Allowing for menu customization can also convert to backlogs in the kitchen when custom orders are mishandled, and this, in turn, creates further disgruntlement for your staff and customers.


Part of the luxury of eating out is the freedom to choose. Mark Godward, president of Strategic Restaurant Engineering consulting firm, tells QSR Magazine, “Customers want to be able to personalize their menu choices to their tastes. Getting the exact flavor you want increases the likelihood of a repeat visit.”

Without the ability to modify their options, many customers will choose to dine elsewhere. That’s why, in spite of the challenges mentioned in the “Cons” section above, allowing for menu customization ultimately creates a world of opportunity for the savvy restaurant owner.

Most customers are willing to pay extra for quality and variety. At higher-end establishments, these customers are looking for an exceptional customer experience as well as customer service--getting to customize their dining options is a part of that. Meeting your customers’ needs and wants through menu modifications will therefore lead to a greater number of satisfied customers and potentially greater profits for you.

With these “pros” in mind, it helps to use a POS system that makes menu modifications seamless. Revel’s "advanced modifiers" make it easy to add modifications to each item in your menu. Revel can also allow you to track the cost of dish by using our ingredient-level inventory tracking and product mix reports, helping raise awareness of what’s selling at what profit levels. As you allow for customers to customize their options, Revel makes it hassle-free for your kitchen, and a breeze for your guests!