By Jordan Knox
In the restaurant industry, things are always changing and evolving as new restaurants and new products are constantly becoming available. To keep up, restaurants need to consistently update their menu offerings, but what is the best way to do this? For most restaurateurs, changing a menu can be a daunting task that may have negative guest impact if not done correctly.
Get rid of what’s not working
Menu engineering is a vital part of creating any new menu. By comparing the popularity and profitability of each dish, a benchmark can be set. When looking at the information, it is easy to see where the customer demand is, but may also give insight on whether to raise pricing on certain items, reposition item placement and determine whether items should be removed. The benefit of using menu engineering is that it gives concrete data and can look past personal feelings or preferences and perception of what works. Changing up your offerings also provides an opportunity to update items that may need fine-tuning in the recipe or portion size.
Add new core and seasonal selections
Once it has been determined which items are staying or going, it is time to focus on additional items that are coming in. Many restaurants have feature sheets, seasonal menus or limited-time offers that help in the overall menu program. If used properly, these tools can help identify new items that should be integrated onto the core menu. These selections also help you take advantage of seasonal items and special purchasing that can be offered by food suppliers.
When dealing with a food supply company, there are often contract pricing options on seasonal items or featured items that are being offered at reduced cost. Prior to designing a new menu, it is always a good idea to set up a meeting with the representative to see what items are trending and also what new products may be coming in.
Review your design
The style, item order and number of items on a menu can contribute to the guest experience and profitability of a restaurant. Sometimes, offering too many options can be just as confusing and frustrating to your customers as it is to your staff. Any time that you increase the list of items that you produce, the execution of each item responds inversely.
Proofread your menu
When your menu concept has been completed and new items have been added, it is important to proofread the menu before and after it has been sent to print. Working with a print media company can be of great benefit for design and style, however it is important that the company you work with understands your timeline is willing to accommodate it.
Stock your ingredients
When dealing with food suppliers, it is important that there is a steady supply of ingredients. Special orders and products that are susceptible to outages should be well researched. A contingency plan to substitute in times of shortage may be necessary; or it may be necessary to guarantee usage levels so that suppliers can stock an item.
Educate your employees
New ingredients will provide a learning curve for both front-of-house and back-of-house employees, so having ingredients in advance of any new launch will provide the opportunity for taste-testing. The more education employees receive on the products that they are preparing and serving, the more likely a menu launch will succeed.
Here’s hoping your next menu is a star!
About the author:
Jordan Knox works at Northland Properties and is a General Manager in training at Moxie’s in Vancouver, B.C. With over 18 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Jordan has worked throughout North America and the Caribbean with industry-leading companies. He received his diploma in Hotel and Restaurant Management from SAIT Polytechnic in 2000 and is a lifelong student of the food and beverage industry, always looking for what new trends are emerging.