summer menu

How to design an awesome summer menu

By Megan Prevost

Thanks to tourism, longer days, and more leisure time, summer is always a busy season for restaurants. The summer season offers numerous opportunities to create an exclusive experience for customers that they won’t find elsewhere.

To create a special summer experience, start with your menu. 

Your menu isn’t just a piece of paper with a list of food and prices; an expertly designed menu can help leave a lasting impression in customers’ minds and can even help sell your most profitable dishes. So, take the time to revamp your menu for the summer. Use creative, strategic designs and seasonal dishes to make the most of this fast-paced season before it’s too late!

Get creative with seasonal ingredients

While you sell the cuisine that your restaurant is known and loved for, the summertime is an opportunity to add some new, seasonal dishes to your menu. Exclusive dishes are great for sales because you can offer them at a higher price point and their exclusive nature makes them more desirable to customers, especially if it’s a dish they’re dying to try. So, take advantage of regional ingredients that are available to you in the summer months, like certain types of fish, fruits, or vegetables. 

Likewise, offer dishes that are more satisfying in summer than they would be during cooler months. Think refreshing, tropical, and light like cold soups or fish dishes, tropical salads, or chilled coffees. You can even create a slew of summer-themed drinks to drive up sales to customers who are looking for fun this summer.

Use a template

Designing the physical layout and appearance of your restaurant menus is a task you shouldn’t take lightly! The way your menu is designed can affect customer service, sales, and the overall customer experience. After all, your menu, be it online or in an advertisement, is often one of the first things that your customers look at to get to know your restaurant. If your menu is overcrowded, hard to read, or just plain confusing, it will create a frustrating experience for customers and can even confuse your staff. 

Luckily, these situations can be easily avoided with the right attention to detail.

By first selecting a layout and later getting creative with elements of design, you can make the customer experience pleasant and even encourage customers to order more food than they might elsewhere. If graphic design isn’t your forte, following an attractive template is a simple solution that will help you create a menu with the appropriate spacing and organization. Choose a layout that is easy to navigate, informative, and in line with your restaurant branding. Plus, you can choose a template that is right for your brand, like a cafe template or a summer-themed template. 

Stick to your brand

It’s no secret that the change of seasons is palpable in the way that people feel and act. Individuals are more carefree during the summer, more frivolous, upbeat, and social. Since people’s behaviours change during summer, so do businesses and their marketing strategies. While you might be offering newer dishes or a slightly different experience to customers during summer, you’ll still want to stick to your identifiable brand.

Use your branding to help revamp your summer menu. When you design your summer menu, use language and a colour scheme that suits your branding. For example, you might be adding a totally new summer dish to your menu, but the way you describe it on the menu should align with how you described other dishes, whether that means simple, sleek language or conversational, laid-back descriptions. Likewise, stick to your brand’s colour scheme but maybe add a pop of new colour or the same colours in brighter hues to fit the summer feel but keep your restaurant identity.

RELATED: Making the most of your summer patio

Choose the right colours

Speaking of colours, during summer, customers feel more social, fun, or lively, and not as cosy or homey as they might during cooler months. As such, use your menu to help give people the summer experience that they want, make your restaurant a vacation highlight for tourists and a staycation oasis for those who don’t get to travel this season. 

Put your customers in a vacation state of mind with vibrant, bright designs and colours, along with fun graphics to embellish the menu or to draw attention to certain menu items. Choose colours that align with your branding but give off that distinctive summer feel.

Highlight signature items

Create signature items for the summer that you won’t sell throughout the year and then market those items effectively. Calling a dish “signature,” “special,” or “exclusive” makes it stand out to customers and creates a sense of urgency to order.

Highlight signature items on your menus using photos and graphics, boxes, or bright colours. A strategically-placed photo can draw attention to certain menu items and gives customers a sneak peek of what to expect, so make sure you’re using high-quality photos. You might even want to try placing a few good photos at the top or on the cover of your menu so that they’re the first thing customers see. Of course, make sure to label them so everyone knows what to order!

Sell your summer!

It’s time to get motivated and take advantage of the extra foot traffic during summer. Give newer customers a lasting impression and remind regulars why they love your spot so much.

There are numerous marketing tactics to employ during the summer months, but the easiest place to start is your menu. Use design and your creative mind to revamp your restaurant and make your spot a summer staple for locals and tourists alike!

Megan Prevost is a contributing writer for RestoBiz and a Content Manager for MustHaveMenus. Her work has also appeared in App Institute, Bar Business, Modern Restaurant Management, Small Business Currents, PMQ, FSR, The Daily Fandom, and FanSided.