When creating a restaurant menu, whether it’s 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 common mistakes I see restaurants make in their menu developments. This isn’t a comprehensive list nor are these hard fast rules rather general guidelines. Keep in mind that this is geared toward independent restaurants, not the big chains.
The first mistake I see is too much diversity. Now, many people may think this is a fantastic thing but hear me out. Too much diversity creates confusion to your employees, your customers and your restaurant’s identity. Now this does not mean only serve hamburgers or fried chicken, this means stick with your restaurant’s theme and keep the menu simple. You do need to try and have something for everyone but you ought not put sushi on the menu beside pasta Bolognese. It is much better to do a few things really well than to do lots of things poor or mediocre at best.
The next mistake I see is inconsistent cost point. There is a certain margin that items can differ but you do not want to have a $3 appetizer and a $12 appetizer just like you don’t want to have a $10 entrée and a $40 entrée. Obviously you need to keep food cost and labor in mind however if your price point is all over the place, it makes it seem like you are over charging in some regions and selling cheap product others. There’s a balance to be had.
The number three error I see, is restaurant owners/chefs creating menus that their kitchens cannot handle. By way of example, putting fried food on the menu if there’s no fryer, things that need a lot of prep and not enough storage or attempting to bake bread with a conveyor pizza oven. If you do not have the correct equipment, change your thought or get the equipment necessary. We all like to push the envelope but some things just shouldn’t be done.
Again, these are merely guidelines and my own observations from my many years in the hospitality business, not hard fast rules. Menu growth can be stressful but it can also be plenty of fun. Have fun with it, be creative and take chances.