How to Make a Restaurant Menu


Revel Blog | Revel Systems | November 24, 2020 |

Featured Advice

How to Make a Menu: A Guide for Restaurants 

A good restaurant menu design is essential to any restaurant marketing plan, and not just because it shows a customer what you offer—the look and feel of it communicates the your brand. Whether you run an artisan coffee shop or a fine dining establishment, your menu presentation will make a lasting impression on your customer. If you’re wondering how to make a restaurant menu that your customers will appreciate, you’re in the right place. 

How to Create a Restaurant Menu: Step by Step Instructions

A thoughtfully crafted menu is one that advertises your restaurant’s offerings and encourages customers to order more. The steps below cover how to create a menu that maximizes restaurant profits while also creating a relaxing, fulfilling customer experience. 

1. Choose Your Menu Items

Many restaurant owners face analysis paralysis when it comes to choosing what goes into their menu. This can be avoided with step by step menu selection. 
  • Decide on the basic items. These should be about 8-12 meals you know you excel at making. They create the core of your menu. 
  • Add a few specialty items to the list. Examples of specialty items include unique meals that are not offered by other restaurants in the area, exotic dishes, or dishes that are harder to make. 
  • Create restaurant menu “favorites” that you believe will be good sellers. These should be around 2-3 items. 
  • Of the list you have outlined, analyze the items to figure out which ones are likely to be most profitable and which ones won’t. Identify what items are essential to your menu, such as crowd-pleasers or children’s meals, and remove or replace the rest. 

2. Name and Describe 

Research has shown that customers tend to gravitate toward creative names and descriptions in menus. However, don’t get too carried away! Make sure customers still understand the meals you are offering. Also, make sure your names are in line with the concept of your restaurant. 

3. Order Your Menu 

Logically ordering your meals helps your customer navigate your menu. The most common way is chronological, where breakfast items come first and desserts come last. Other sections you can divide your menu into include appetizers, main courses, specialty, and of course, beverages. 

4. Crunch Your Numbers 

By concentrating on the cost of each meal, you’ll be better able to see where your money makers and losers are on the menu. To figure out how much to price your dishes, identify the following: 
  • Direct costs: This includes the cost of the actual ingredients, sourcing them, and the average waste of food that doesn’t get used. 
  • Overhead costs: Rent, utilities, payroll, and other costs of running the restaurant. 
  • Prep costs: Includes the employee hours and effort undertaken to prepare the dish. 
  • Indirect costs: These are the costs that aren’t associated with your overhead or production but still influence pricing such as advertising and hiring. 
Before you finalize menu prices, keep in mind the markup percentages of these items, and what margins you should be making. To figure out what most guests are willing to pay, take a look at the prices on your competitors' menus

5. Use a Menu Builder

Once you have your menu items and details laid out, it’s time to put them in a menu builder. Revel Systems restaurant POS system has a menu builder that allows business owners to create and customize their menus according to their business needs.  Revel’s flexible menus come with categories, subcategories, and products that allow you to build your menu to your exact specifications. You can also document recipes down to the smallest ingredients. On the other end, customers can customize their orders easily, and you can push menu changes without having to make adjustments manually. 

How to Design a Menu 

Psychologists and menu engineers have identified a series of design strategies that guide restaurant owners on how to make a menu that resonates with customers and keeps them coming back for more. Below are some valuable tips. 
  • Guide the customers' attention to high-profit items. You can do this by with attention-grabbing techniques such as: 
    • Including a graphic or photo. 
    • Surrounding them with a colored or shaded box, or white space. 
    • Highlighting one or two items per section. 
    • Placing the items in the center, the top right corner, and the top left corner. 
    • Putting one at the top of the list and one at the bottom. 
  • Use color. Bright colors like red, yellow, and orange capture attention and trigger appetite. However, be careful to match your color scheme to your restaurant’s theme. 
  • Make your menu scannable by avoiding crowded layouts and using easy-to-read fonts. Make sure to include clear section headings and visible dish titles. 
  • Use photos sparingly or not at all. Excessive photos are associated with low-end eateries. 

Simple Restaurant Menu Ideas 

Even with all the steps, restaurant menu designs can be tricky to nail down. Here are five examples of stunning menus that whet our appetite for inspiration. 

1. Easy to Digest

Clear lettering, few items, and even less clutter. This menu may be simple, but there is nothing basic about it. 

Easy to digest menu

2. Fine Dining 

A great example of how your menu is a part of your brand. This fine-dining restaurant chose a beautiful design that communicates high-end. 

Fine dining menu

3. Out-of-the-Box 

This restaurant is ensuring a guest experience that is more consistent and memorable by making their menu unique. 

Out of the box menu

4. Put a Theme To It

If your restaurant is themed, why not feature it on the menu, like this restaurant.  Themed menu Your menu is one of your restaurant’s most valuable marketing tools. As such, you don’t want to get it wrong. Hopefully, this guide on how to make a menu set you on the right path. Revel Systems' product management and menu building POS system makes it easy to tailor a menu that reflects your business. Contact us to learn more.