Whether you’re running a Michelin-starred haute cuisine establishment, a country pub or a fast-food joint, no dining experience is complete without menus.
But what form should your menu take? There’s a huge variety of ways to present your restaurant’s offering – and some of them can serve as valuable tools for promoting your business, establishing your brand and improving the customer experience.
Not every menu type will fit with your particular restaurant brand, of course; but hopefully these four print ideas (and one digital method) will provide some useful inspiration…
The key to bringing in more customers off the street is to give them a clear idea of what to expect before they step through the door.
Many diners will naturally have concerns about your price range or food options (particularly vegetarians, vegans and those with allergies) – and most will simply move onto another restaurant rather than risking the potential embarrassment of leaving early.
Displaying your menu outside your restaurant will help you assuage these worries and convince more diners to give you a try. If you’re on a budget, sticking an upscaled menu in the window will do – but we’d recommend investing in a menu board sign or perhaps an outdoor display case for maximum visibility
They’re often used for children’s menus (with a few puzzles and art activities thrown in to occupy their interest) – but placemat menus can be great for grown-ups, too. Perhaps they’re not appropriate choice for haute cuisine diners, but for casual dining and quick service restaurants, placemats come with a few nice benefits.
For one thing, they offer plenty of space for highlighting new dishes, lunch offers, loyalty schemes, social media channels – whatever you’re looking to promote within your restaurant brand.
Uncoated placemats can also be written on, which means you can turn your menus into interactive ordering cards for your diners – idea. Alternatively, it provides a place for your waiting staff to scribble down customers’ order details, which not only assists your runners in getting the right meals to the right tables, but can also give your restaurant a laid-back, cafe-diner feel.
What about things like your menu specials, discounted set menus or promotional offers? How do you put the spotlight on these menu items without having to design and print a whole new menu every time?
That’s where table talkers (also known as tent cards) come in. Thanks to their quirky 3D shape and the ability to stand up on their own (both in portrait and landscape orientations), they’re a lot more effective at catching the customer’s eye than a flat 2D menu card.
Table talkers also offer multiple panels for displaying different menu items and deals – and since only one panel is usually visible at a time, the customer’s focus on each item won’t be diluted. For example, you could use one panel of a standard three-panel tent card for your specials menu, another for your drinks menu and another for desserts
With the rise of food delivery services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, offering dinner delivered to the customer’s door is fast becoming the norm for all kinds of casual dining establishments – not just takeaways and kebab shops.
Online delivery services have their own interactive menus, of course; but it’s still a good idea to have a version of your menu that will fit neatly through letterboxes, in takeaway bags, or in the pockets of dine-in guests returning home.
These not only help customers decide what they want when ordering in, but also provide great advertising for your restaurant brand – not to mention advertising the fact that you offer delivery!
We’ve talked a lot about printed menus so far, but it’s important not to neglect the online side of promoting your restaurant and its dishes. Your online menu serves pretty much the same purpose as the outdoor menu board we covered earlier – it’s there to convince customers to eat with you by providing all the information they need before they visit.
However, unlike menu boards, you’re not just convincing those who want to eat now, but also later. Many of the people visiting your website will be planning a work social, a birthday meal or another special occasion, and they’ll be researching different restaurants to decide where to book. If they can’t find your menu online, they’ll probably end up booking with someone else.
Be sure to include your menu across your entire digital presence; not just your website, but also any social media accounts you have. And make it easy to find – we suggest adding a link to the menu slap bang in the middle of your website homepage.
For more restaurant marketing tips (as well as general ideas and advice for promoting your business), keep an eye on the Better Printing blog – or call us on 023 8087 8037 to request your own bespoke menu print run!