Experts say every restaurant should overhaul its menu once a year, and since we’re entering a new decade, now is a particularly good time to reevaluate and refresh what you’re offering your customers.
Your menu should get customers excited about your food, and in order to do that, you need to really know your customer. What do they want? What is your restaurant’s core brand promise, and what can you do to make that brand feel fresh and exciting for the 2020s while still staying true to who you are? Refreshing your menu is all about getting into your customer’s heads—while also digging into the data on what’s selling, what your profit margins are, and how well you’re managing inventory.
Here are three tips for creating a 2020 menu your customers will love:
Sales of plant-based foods are up, and two out of three Americans say they’re eating less meat. Climate change is consistently in the headlines, and more and more Americans are aware of the carbon footprint of animal products. That’s why, these days, plant-based eating isn’t just for committed vegetarians or vegans—95% of the people choosing plant-based burgers when they dine out are meat-eaters. The reduceatarian movement is one example of how consumers are changing their eating habits without adopting restrictive diets. Eating local, seasonal food is another popular way to reduce the carbon footprint of your plate.
Take a look at your menu with these trends in mind. How can you highlight the plant-based dishes you’re already offering? Can you add more protein options? For example, if your sesame chicken dish is a perennial favorite, adding sesame tofu as an alternative might be an easy way to appeal to customers looking to cut down on meat.
If you’re already partnering with local suppliers, try listing the farmers or other suppliers you work with to appeal to diners who like the idea of knowing where their food comes from and eating local. You don’t have to become a fully farm-to-table restaurant to highlight seasonal produce or celebrate a great local farmer you love.
Transparency is a big issue for all kinds of businesses these days—why not bring it to your menu? The two easiest ways to do this are by carefully listing ingredient details for all your dishes, and by offering caloric information.
Read up on best practices for reducing allergen contamination and avoiding cross-contact so that you can be clear on your menu what foods are safe to eat for people with various allergies. Train your wait staff to ask questions about allergies and make notes in the system that cooks can double-check as they prepare food. In the Clover POS, you can easily set up items with “Gluten Free” or “Peanut Allergy” modifiers, and then front-of-house staff can use those when inputting orders.
Adding calorie counts to your menu is another option for increasing transparency. Think through how your menu will look to a health-conscious diner: do you offer a variety of lower-calorie options, or are healthy eaters stuck with a salad? If you’re able to highlight some mouth-watering dishes that can be eaten with a clear conscience, you’ll build loyalty and encourage repeat visits from diners who are looking for healthier options. Again, look for ways to make simple modifications that will broaden the appeal of your signature dishes. If customers love your burgers, why not offer one in a lettuce wrap for low-carb or gluten-free eaters, or a smaller size that reduces the calorie count?
Of course, while you’re refreshing your menu from your customer’s perspective, you’ll also want to reevaluate each menu item from a business perspective. Compare your ideal food costs to your actual food costs to help you identify how much food you’re wasting. Use an app like SimpleOrder to optimize your inventory management.
Experts say that good menu engineering—costing out every menu item and designing the layout of your menu to highlight your most profitable dishes—can boost your profits by 15%. It’s well worth doing the math to figure out which dishes you want to highlight in 2020, and which won’t make the cut for your new menu.
The start of a new decade is a great time to review your menu and do a full overhaul. Getting your menu ready for the 2020s means understanding your customers, keeping on top of food trends, increasing transparency, and reevaluating every menu item to make sure it’s boosting your bottom line as much as possible. The end result should be a menu that looks and feels fresh, entices customers to try new dishes while reminding them to enjoy their favorites, and helps your restaurant start the new year off profitably.
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