Menu theory- how to make more money

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You making profit starts with your menu and here are 10 tips to make your business increase revenue.


1. Business card of your establishment 

Treat your menu like an extension of the business. Make sure it captures the prestige of your restaurant, bar, or cafe. You can be inventive or old fashioned but it is important not to be cheap.

Choose a reasonable size. Easy to handle and easy to place on the table should be kept in mind when designing a menu. 

Make sure they are clean and if they deteriorate , change them!


2. Amount of choices

Don’t overwhelm guests with a lot of products. Focus on theme, specialties that you want people to experience or even your chef’s choices . A bartender can come with the cocktail specials and not have more than three.

Psychologists suggest that seven is the golden number regarding the amount of choices/ category.  

It is important to have quality rather than quantity.


3. Keep it simple & scannable

Have an easy to read font and size, clear headings and visible dish titles. 

Colors are also important. Red and blue trigger appetite, yellow and orange make you feel hungry. This is color theory, you can play with it.

There are some menus that are adding a whole story about their city or the building that the restaurant is in, or even paragraphs about drinks, types of coffee or wines. Keep it simple! Instead of having the story about the place in your menu, just have a mini-book with nice details on each table at all times. Like that people can spend time reading while waiting for the food, not when they want to order it. 

To avoid long paragraphs about products, train your staff. The team should now each product in and out. Like that your location will also look professional.


4. About pictures and illustrations. 

Excessive photos equals cheap and we don’t want that. High end restaurants avoid them all together but at medium level places a photo per page for your special dish or drink(is encouraged because it’s proven to raise your sales). Another alternative, more elegant, is to have illustrations.


5. Know your products and how they sell

Why is it so important?

Because there are three types of categories. First, the products that are popular and sell fast and they make a high profit. The second is the middle products which are popular but don’t make you a lot of profit. The wise action is to not have a lot of them. The last category is the unpopular products. This is a double edge sword. They can be expensive and one product is the amount of two popular ones and they can give you a profit boost or they are so unpopular that you might never sell it. 

This is really helpful to know when you get in the designing phase. 

Pro tip: for the unpopular products try and make them with products that are used a lot in the composition of the others so your loss is not happening on all sides.


6. Highlights & sweet spots

The sweet spot of the menu: upper right corner if the menu is presented horizontal.

The first two rows on a page if the menu is presented vertically. 

Place your most expensive meal there. If a fake meal, train your staff to recommend something similar in a high price range, usually the second best. 

Highlight the thing you want to sell with a different font, an illustration or a frame. 

Middle is not that important.It is proven that from a list people will remember the end and the beginning rather than the middle. This is also something that you can apply when building your menu. You can put the most expensive or the products that you want to sell at the ends of the page. 


7. Fake dishes

You can add a dish or two that are so expensive and WOW, even if you don’t make them and never have them and tell people that you are out of ingredients for today and they will pick something else, usually in the same price range.

The real thing that you want to sell even if it is for a lower price but still in the high price range in your menu will sell just because the other option is absurdly expensive or “not available”.


8. Naming the products

You do this by using descriptive language.

If the name sounds appealing, the customer will be more willing to spend money on it. A “chocolate cake” sounds delicious but mainstream; a “ cake with Belgian chocolate” or ”Grandma’s old chocolate cake recipe” can be more expensive and because the associations it will be more likely to be chosen and therefore you will increase your profits.  


9. Price strategy

There is an easy way to do it: make a recipe for each product and how much it will cost to finish it (including other costs like electricity, water, salaries and make a sum). Increase this amount to make profit.

 For example a Cuba libre costs 2.30 euros on ingredients, 3,22 euros for other services. The total is 5,52 euros. I would sell it for 15 euros that will give me a 9.70 profit that I can invest in something else. 

You can play with this calculation a lot and raise the prices or lower them how you feel like.


10. The “money” signs 

Don’t put a dollar, euro or any other currency sign at the end of an amount. It is proven that people will not associate the number with the amount of money if the symbol is messing and that will make them spend more. 


Extra tip: 

  • Have a separate desert menu.

 If guests see an eye-catching dessert, they are more likely to skip an appetizer or have a smaller meal.  By presenting the guests with your dessert menu after dinner, you are more likely to sell the appetizer in the beginning and desert at the end of the meal.

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