Menu Ideas for Restaurant, Pubs and Other Hospitality Venues Reopening

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

As businesses reopen and consumers get back to enjoying their favourite dishes, organisations will be looking at their menu choices. Understanding how to create a restaurant menu that caters to the demand while adhering to social distancing restrictions has become increasingly important. This is why the second article in our series looks at dish engineering opportunities to maximise menu potential, while offering customers plenty of delicious reasons to come back.

Woman serving burger and chips

5 menu ideas to make your dishes work harder

In these uncertain times, it’s important to be open to change and to think to the future to anticipate shifting consumer demands. Menus are likely to have changed due to operational restrictions, so these 5 restaurant and pub menu ideas have been collated to make your dishes work harder than ever to maximise business profitability.


1. Ensure dish costs are up to date:

Ingredient pricing may have changed over lockdown and ensuring each dish is accurately costed will mean any tweaks have the desired outcome. It’s a good time to negotiate with suppliers as since restaurants last opened many factors have changed.


2. Review upsell opportunities:

Which sides or accompaniments would work with each dish, and are customers are aware of this? Many great restaurant menu ideas come from pairing sides with main dishes in a new way. This strategy could help balance flavours and make the whole food proposition more visually appealing. A strategically placed prompt can also drive impulse purchases and help boost overall spend per head.


3. Consider where each dish is positioned:

Your customers’ eye patterns are likely to follow the ‘golden triangle’ – a third of the way down the page first, then over to the top right-hand corner and then back across to the left. Create your menu by ensuring the most profitable dishes are positioned within this triangle (in particular, top right) to give specific dishes a higher chance of being chosen.

Customers are also likely to lose focus halfway down reading a specific category section, so ensuring the dishes you want to sell are in the top 3 listed in a section will lead to greater uptake.


4. Use the right language and prompts:

A well written menu description can do wonders, especially post-lockdown when customers will be looking for reassurance and dishes that remind them of how things used to be. Words like ‘comforting classic, ‘slow-cooked’ and ‘locally sourced’ help attract guests, and adding additional prompts like ‘Chef’s favourite’ or ‘Customer choice’ gives extra reassurance and reasons to try a dish.


5. Plot dishes using a menu engineering matrix:

Quite often dishes will remain on a menu without adding anything to the overall mix. Creating a menu engineering matrix helps plot out each dish and understand their purpose and if they deserve a spot on the menu. Along the bottom is profitability, with popularity listed up the side and dishes plotted out based on both factors. Dishes which end up top right (maximum popularity, maximum profitability) are clear winners, while those ending up bottom left offer low popularity and profitability and are likely to need removing.


Extra restaurant menu idea: classics reinvented

Think of menu ideas for your pub or restaurant that offer customers a different take on the classic recipes they know and love. Seasonal twists and limited-edition dishes are always great crowd pleasers and give the opportunity to charge a slightly premium vs the core menu. The same applies to seasonal, limited edition accompaniments and sauces – although a lower priced option on the menu, the sales of these all add up and can contribute in a big way to the overall spend per head figure. It’s a great time to look at offering twisted versions of popular favourites to give customers additional reasons to revisit.


Next, take a look at how pubs and restaurants are adapting to an era of social distancing with our insightful guide.


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