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When you're asked that question, are you thinking about it from the point of view of the restaurant owner? Or a supplier? I'm here to speak to restaurant owners, so I want to help answer that question from their point of view.
Well, I suppose we could be talking about
a. What is the average physical size of a restaurant menu? The number of pages and the size of the pages in inches or centimetres?
Or we could be talking about
b. What is the average number of dishes or items on a restaurant menu?
I reckon that A is driven by B - the physical size of your Menu should be driven by the number of dishes you have. Or at least it should be. We'll talk about B first, then the things to consider about A
If you are doing it the other way round, perhaps you are putting the cart before the horse, so to speak?
What is the average number of dishes or items on a restaurant menu?
Actual Average number of dishes on menus everywhere?
42 - for no other reason other than the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy said so.
In all honesty, I have no idea. I guess someone might. Please put me in touch if you know someone that has done the maths.
Perhaps better rephrase the question and ask what is the best number of items to have on your Menu?
That's determined by the food you can get, the food your kitchen can make, and what your restaurant team can serve?
Or perhaps the most relevant - what your guests or customers can choose from
Rule of 7 - aka Millers Law
Like the three bears porridge - not too much, not too little, just right.
Miller worked out that people like choice, but there can be too little or too much. 7 is the perfect number - it can drop to 5 or increase to 9. But seven is good. Seven is best. Seven choices of Pizza, seven choices of salad, seven choices of steak…may be. It could be seven choices of main course or seven starters. We've talked about his in our blog before...read more here
Think of your kitchen
Extensive menus need lots of stock. Lots of stock costs more money and presents a greater risk of loss. It can go off, and it can get nicked! You also need space to store it. Square footage costs money, and if the stock is just sitting there, it is not generating returns. Best have a smaller range of items and a table or two extra perhaps?
Think of your staff
How many dishes can they remember to make? Consistency is the key to a good restaurant…if there are dishes that only get ordered 1 or 2 a week, are they going to be made consistently well every time? Errors and portion control go adrift along with your margin.
Waiting staff sell better when they know about the dishes. Lots of dishes mean lots to remember. Are your floor staff up to it?
A menu with two starters - 3 mains and two desserts? Maybe? I'm sure they exist. But if you want, more you can. Chunk it up. Starters. Salads, share plates, fish dishes, meat dishes, vegetable dishes. Seven sections - each with 5-9 items in them. Again you are giving the brain the chance to work with 7.
You know there is nothing wrong with breaking up your Menu.
I could go on, but I'm sure you get the picture. Don't try and cram it into one place. Break it up! We all need some space sometimes.
I have a customer that has full separate menus for Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan dishes. Apart from getting the numbers down to the magic seven, it also gives the 'alternative dietary requirements gang' a feeling of being wanted. It's probably fair to say that if a group of pole eating out together have one of their gang is vegan or needs gluten-free dishes, they can very often drive the decision on where to eat. If they feel wanted, they will come back, probably bringing their mates.
Sell more desserts
Desserts - so often the afterthought of a kitchen and the menu design. But there is a good margin in desserts. So often, they are squeezed onto the end or the back of the Main Menu.
Think about this Starter, main and pudding? If all three are on the Menu at the same time, tell me people don't look at both and make a decision about one or the other…Garlic Prawn starter or the Sticky chocolate surprise? - Some will go for the dessert and just won't order a starter. Better get the starter sale now and then try to get the dessert later.
Put the dessert menu on a separate menu and present it after the mains have been cleared… put coffee and tea on there too. Could you even add a dessert wine?
What is the average physical size of a Restaurant Menu?
It has to be able to be handled!
Too big, and it takes over the table like some Monty Python sketch, and you get remembered for the silly sized Menu rather than your fantastic food and brilliant service. Anything bigger than a tabloid or A3 size is getting tricky to hold and read while sitting at a table. Letter 81/2 x 11 or A4 - bound to be up there. Tabloid or A3 is equally popular.
It has to be legible!!
- Find a good graphic designer.
- Find a good graphic designer.
- Repeat 1 and 2.
- Do not get your bartender or waiter to 'have a go' on their day off. If they are working for you delivering great food and drink, perhaps they are not best placed to give you the great Menu you need?
- Don't let style overtake function. This Menu is the single most important sales tool you have. Clarity is key.
- Fonts must be legible in your restaurant environment ( most are not bight places)
- Colour must contrast.
- IF EVERYTHING IS IN UPPERCASE, IT BECOMES REALLY HARD TO READ. likewise, if you don't use uppercase at all, then we miss things too. writing has been around for a while now, and the classical conventions really work.
- Do not cram your Menu into a size just because you can, and it's a bit cheaper at the printers.
- Use empty space as it is easier to read.
- 'Just make it fit or squeeze this in'. that's the point when your Menu stops being effective. Blank space is good; use it to give the eyes a rest.
Use descriptions to sell. Grandma's Gooey Chocolate Fudge Cake is going to move more plates than Chocolate Cake. Talk things up a bit. Yes, they take a bit of space, but it helps to sell the item.
Lots of pages do make navigation tricky, and again we come back to the Magic 7.
Gordon Ramsay, love him or loath him, he's doing OK, will always be reducing the page count and dish quantity in his Kitchen Nightmares.
Tabs can help or pages of different sizes so one can quickly get to what you want.
Let's face it, we all want to get an order quickly. (Printers too!) Give your customers something with a fold and pages; it is too easy to put it down and talk without looking at it. Best stick to a single page without anything to turn over. It's all there; the guest can see it all, they make a decision, and you get an order, soon as you like.
- Don't put the cart before the horse.
- Decide on the right menu content and the right volume of dishes before you decide on the physical size of your Menu.
- Money is well spent of a good graphic designer and fantastic washable, long-lasting Menu ;-)