Menu Creation is one of the most important elements in making a successful restaurant. A great menu doesn’t only explain what a restaurant offers. It can increase revenues too.
Menu creation has to be a joined project between restaurant owner and its chef. The simplicity or complexity of the menu will determine the kitchen layout, how much money to be spent on the kitchen equipment and how many staff needed in the kitchen.
Menu creation seems very simple but it affects the amount of start-up cost and profitability of a restaurant. Because of that, plan your menu wisely. It can break or make your restaurant.
How to create a good menu?
1st Step: Be Specific.
You have to be specific on what kind of food you want to sell in your restaurant. People often make mistake by thinking that customers will be happier if there are more varieties in the menu. Varieties is important but be specific on the type of food you want to sell.
If you want to open a BBQ shack, your restaurant should only have BBQ ribs, or chickens or anything that is barbequed plus side dishes to complement the BBQ. Don’t put chicken rice, fish curries or pizza in the menu for the sake of “offering more varieties”. Customers go to a BBQ restaurant to eat BBQ, not to eat fish curry or pizza. If they want to eat pizza, they would go to another restaurant specializing in Italian food.
I had been to an Indian restaurant near my house that sold Pizza and Pasta. True enough, after 6 months they stopped selling Pizza and Pasta because very few people actually ordered those dishes in an Indian restaurant. Now they are stuck with the Wood-fire Oven and cans of tomato sauces and cheeses.
2nd Step: Price Your Menu accurately.
Pricing your menu accurately is important to sustain a profitable restaurant. If you price your food too low, even if you have a full house everyday, you may end up struggling to pay for the operational cost. If you price your food too high, you may not attract customers to dine in your restaurant.
A professional chef usually knows how to calculate the food cost for each item on the menu. But if you don’t plan on hiring a professional chef, the simple guideline is: Price = 3 x Cost
While each type of restaurant has different benchmarks on pricing, the average food cost should be around 30% of the selling price. The 70% margin is needed to cover your operation cost (rental, salary, electricity, etc)
For example: if your grilled chicken cost is RM3.00 (including sauces, trimmings and everything on the plate), you should sell the grilled chicken no less than RM9.00.
3rd Step: Design an attractive and informative menus.
Another important element in creating a menu is the descriptions of each dish. You should provide clear explanations on your menus. This will ease your customers to decide on their food. It also expedites taking orders for your waiters, especially during a full house.
Another effective method is to have some pictures in menu. This is good for restaurants serving ethnic food where the customers are not familiar with the native names of the food.
In general people are more attracted to pictures than words. Nice pictures not only make ordering faster but also promoting your food. However please remember that while good pictures can attract customers, bad pictures turn off the appetite. Make sure the pictures are taken by someone who knows how to make the food looks good. He/she should know how to take the pictures from the right angle with suitable lighting.
To know more about starting and operating a restaurant in Malaysia, please visit http://startmyrestaurant.com.my/
About the author:
Elly Suliana is an accountant who has been involved in opening, operating and managing few restaurants in Kuala Lumpur for the past 10 years. Although her technical background is in Accounting and Management (Bachelor degree in Accountancy from San Diego States University – USA and an MBA from University of San Diego – USA), her passion for food drove her to be in the F&B industry. She loves food and everything associated with it.
She is the author of ebook “How to Open a Restaurant in 8 Weeks”. Her step-by- step guide has helped many Malaysians and foreigners opened their restaurants in Malaysia. Currently she is running an accounting firm, providing financial services and consultancies to restaurants in Kuala Lumpur.