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How to Design a Menu: Proven Restaurant Menu Design Ideas

Restaurant Menu with Blue Accents

Whether they read it online or after being seated, your menu is often a guests’ first impression of your restaurant. As a restaurant owner or executive chef, you can’t sit down with every customer to make suggestions, but the design of your menu can do a lot of that work for you! Learn how to design a menu the right way with these proven restaurant menu design ideas.

Take Advantage of the Sweet Spot

Especially when you’re working with a large menu, you want to highlight the right dishes so that people are more likely to order them. The “sweet spot” is the location on the menu where people’s attention naturally falls. In a one-panel menu configuration, it’s at the top of the page, while in a two-panel menu configuration, it’s in the top of the right-side panel. By placing the most expensive or most profitable menu items in the sweet spot, you’ll increase the likelihood of these items being ordered.

Play with Color

Color is a great way to emphasize certain dishes and subconsciously influence your diners. According to color theory, both red and blue are thought to trigger appetite, making them great colors to use on a restaurant menu. If you’re just looking for one accent color, consider your offerings. If, for example, your restaurant specializes in seafood, you might want to choose blue as your accent color, while red might be more appropriate for a pizza shop. Especially if you decide to stick with black and white only, consider using boxes, borders, bold type, and other design flourishes to direct attention and create visual interest.

Use Descriptive Language

If you’ve ever said “that sounds delicious” after a friend has described a dish to you, you’ve been moved by the power of descriptive language. In fact, by adding descriptive language to your menu, you can increase food sales by up to 27%. Stuck on what language to use when describing your menu items? Check out this resource from the Webstaurant Store, which includes lists of descriptors for taste, texture, and preparation method to help you get started.

Pair Items Together

People love suggestions when ordering, especially when they’re eating at a restaurant for the first time, and while your servers should be trained to do this, you can also offer ordering help on the menu itself. Including a food and wine pairing section on your menu, for example, is a great way to upsell customers, create a memorable dining experience, and increase restaurant revenue. Guests feel like they’re getting an added value, and even if they weren’t thinking about ordering a glass of wine when they came in, they might reconsider when they realize the experience can be enhanced with the right wine recommendation.

Need help designing your restaurant menu? McDonald Wholesale can help! In addition to providing high-quality wholesale food, we also offer menu analysis and development, restaurant marketing, and other technology services. In the meantime, check out our foodservice blog where we cover menu development topics, including late night and happy hour menu ideas, kids menu ideas, the benefits of seasonal menus, and why you should update your restaurant menu every year.

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