Your starter, ladies and gentlemen!
No two restaurants are the same; therefore, no two ‘dining experiences’ are. Therein lies the key to achieving successful restaurant menu design and print: aim to capture the dining experience your restaurant uniquely provides, in print; from the moment a customer sits down, your menu has to take them ‘into your world’; a world they won’t want to leave quickly, a world they’ll be eager to return to, share with others, recommend…
One of the key points to consider is to know your audience. Who are your target customers? Write, design and print for those people, and those people WILL come.
Make an immediate emotional connection by kicking-off with a message from you (or the restaurant owner), warmly welcoming your customers, giving company background, conveying your key messages, your mission statement, how you only source from local providers, your USP (what makes your restaurant different? What’s your strongest selling point?). Like the sticky toffee pudding with custard washed down with a tall caffé latte, including a smiley photo of the Boss always goes down well. Think about where you’ll find a good professional photographer locally. Finding one who is experienced in taking mouth-watering shots of food would be ideal!
Your menu isn’t War and Peace, it’s a MENU, so make it quick and easy to read, follow and understand – stay away from hard to read handwriting fonts, and make the text large enough to read. (I’ve countless memories of my father squinting at menus because he left his spectacles at home!)
Your Main Course:
Ingredients – yes, include them, but don’t go mad. People like to know what they’re eating, but they haven’t signed up for a cookery course, so include the essential ingredients only and also the ones that can cause allergic reactions such as nuts, shellfish pastes, dairy, gluten etc.
Options – for vegetarians; vegans; those with common food intolerances, kids’ meals, ‘light’ meals for the weight-conscious.
Additional Services – how about: puzzles, kids events, catering, birthdays, Christmas dos, how to book a private room for events and parties, and any relevant news such as vacancies or new facilities.
Service Charges – as a ‘tip’ (geddit?), customers like to know where they are with service charges; so be clear over this.
It can’t be stressed enough that if your restaurant offers something your competitors can’t, use it to your advantage. Your list of pizza toppings is longer than any other pizzeria in Southend? You can seat more customers than any other French restaurant in Knightsbridge? Put it in print. Gain a competitive edge.
Above all, make sure your menu conveys your restaurant’s style and approach; be that sophisticated and lavish, or budget-option ‘as much as you can eat for a fiver’. This can be conveyed with things like your chosen colour scheme (go for colours that are in keeping with your décor), font-type, overall tone of writing, menu shape/design.
Your afters (before clicking Print):
- Ensure your design and content is not similar to your competitors’
- Check for typos, errant apostrophes, word repetition
- Double-check any foreign spellings (for accuracy)
- Make sure your contact details are correct
A final thought (to ‘take away’):
How can you ask for customer feedback, or tell your customers all about: your dish of the day, your weekly special, your latest competition, or that one of your yummy desserts is endorsed by a celebrity, without having your menus rewritten and printed all over again?
You may need to consider some stand-alone, one-sided pages, that slot in to your menu – a cheap and simple way of keeping things current. ( A cheap leaflet would do the trick.)