4 Tips for Developing Restaurant Menu Ideas
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.
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