Menus and recipes are usually the job of a chef hired to run your kitchen, but hiring a restaurant consultant can be a great option as creating a menu goes beyond just creating the food.. Not all chefs/kitchen managers/restaurant owners also have the skillset to be creative writers/mathematicians/recipe developers.
Creating a menu goes well beyond just creating the food.
And with the mneu being the the top marketing tool, no one can afford to take shortcuts on it. It is also the planning tool and is responsible for:
- Getting customers in the door or getting online orders
- Cost and prices of the items
- Profitability of the items
- Kitchen layout
- Storage capacity
You may be opening up “just” a tiny hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, but if done correctly, it can be a goldmine if you understand how to offer the right items at the right price that both sound and taste incredible.
For example, house-made Kettle Potato Chips are always popular and sound great on the menu, but can be a logistic nightmare. Don’t just think about how great an item sounds; make sure you can make enough of it fast enough, that it can be made ahead and stored if necessary and create no waste. Make sure there is some cross-over between items to be a responsible restaurant owner. If you are serving coffee, have something with coffee on the menu that can be made with leftover coffee such as a mocha swirl cheesecake made by turning excess coffee into a coffee syrup. Or if you serve alcohol, invent a Coffee Cosmopolitan.
I recently had a potential client show me a menu with prices and asked my opinion. The first thing I asked was if the items weren’t completely developed and there were no recipes, how did you come up with the prices? Sometimes prices are created first based on a competitive analysis of the location and what the market can bear. Then the recipe and ingredients are created backwards with a bit of psychology thrown into the mix. However, you must be sure your costs will be covered.
This was not the case with this client. Another consideration as well is if the items will be packaged “to go” as the packaging costs must be built into the customer price. Years ago, whether most customers knew it or not, extra charges were built in for to-go containers.
Creative writing skills are needed to craft a menu that sounds appealing to customers. This is an acquired skill that is built over time. Given the choice of an Angus Burger served on a House-Made Brioche Bun with Vermont Hill Cheddar, Grilled Oahu Onions and Kumata Tomatoes served with Gus’s New York Pickles or a “Burger served on a sesame bun with lettuce, tomatoes and pickles,” which would you choose? The exact same item can sound worlds apart and cost more just based on how it sounds. Let the customer know what great ingredients you are using and make the dish sound fabulous.
To pound home the point again, the menu is your top marketing tool and must be done correctly to ensure financial success. Being proactive and hiring a needed consultant can make the difference between a busy, full capacity restaurant and one that has the great food, but no one is clamoring to try it.