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4 Tips for Developing Restaurant Menu Ideas

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April 17, 2023

Whether you are a seasoned restaurant owner or starting your first foodservice experience, cultivating a dynamic menu is the first step in having a successful career. It’s one of the most fun aspects of owning an establishment. Playing around with recipes, hosting staff tastings, and injecting excitement into your menu are what owners and chefs live for.

Successful Restaurant Menu Planning Strategies

Creating new menus and revamping current ones let creative juices run wild. Generating innovative menu items is exciting. Understanding where to begin and when to narrow your focus can take a lot of work, however. These four tips can be your guiding light for successful menu planning that helps maximize your team’s efficiency and profits.

1. Use Your Core Concept and Business Plan as a Guide

When you are in the beginning stages of menu planning, it’s crucial to remember your brand concept. You want to ensure that all your menu items—from appetizers to entrees, beverages to desserts—all fit within your restaurant’s identity.

Paying attention to your business goals is as essential as your core concept. Ask yourself what your ideal food cost margins are to turn a profit. For example, streamlining your selections can help you achieve profitable plates with less chance of food waste.

2. Conceptualize Dishes by Menu Category

It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole when it comes to menu creation. Keep yourself focused and arrange your ideas and recipe testing by category. For example, you might focus on appetizers first. Then move on to salads, sides, entrees, and desserts. Depending on the restaurant concept and hours of operation, you might choose to plan breakfast menus, then work on lunch and dinner. 

Consider how you want your menu organized, then plan based on those categories. This can be a great way to train staff on your new menu without being overwhelmed. 

3. Analyze Your Competition

  • List five of your direct competitors.
  • Find their menus and create a spreadsheet with each of their dishes.
  • Look for duplicate items and ingredient patterns so you can offer the same dishes or utilize the same ingredients to capitalize on local trends or offer something completely different to stand out.
  • Check their online review to see which dishes fare well and which are less popular in your community.

4. Pay Attention to Market Trends

When developing menus, you want to learn what items consumers are looking for. Incorporating hot new food trends can help you draw diners to your doors. Also, think about emerging cuisines, like global fusion and plant-based dishes.

Use social media as a tool to find trending flavors. Also, reach out to your restaurant supply store. You’ll find that they offer crucial trend reports to keep you abreast of the next big food scene.

Analyze Your Competition

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Take advantage of our business tools to help you bring your restaurant vision to life.

The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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