Menuology Principles

Did you know that your food and drink menu is the most important piece of paper in your outlet? Menus are the equivalent of your shop window, allowing your guests see what tempting food & drink you have to offer.

The art of menuology

Often wondered why you ended up spending more in a restaurant, what made you try the special, or why you ordered the more expensive bottle of wine. That's the art of menuology. 

90% of people look at the menu before ordering and 71% are likely to choose something different if they're made aware of what you have to sell. Maybe even trade up.

Menus allow you to influence your guests into eating and drinking what you want to drive, whether that be new dishes, higher margin items or focus drink lines. With 9 of of 10 guests looking at the menu before ordering, it's the number one weapon in your selling armoury.

Menus are often the first interaction between your staff and your guests – the perfect opportunity to create a first great impression. Your staff can also help your guests to navigate the menu, highlighting specials or new and interesting items that you want to sell.

Encourage your staff to give the guest enough time to browse the menu before taking their order – this will move your guests away from low margin drinks such as lime & soda.

Keep the drinks menus on the table so your guests have the opportunity to order another drink.

Menus can increase guest spend by up to 17% so follow our simple 7 menu principles to tempt your guests into spending more.

Divide it up

Think about how you currently showcase wine into sections (red, white, rose). The same rules can be applied for your other drinks categories. Guests don’t spend long looking at the menu so make their choices easy by simple navigation – for example split your soft drinks into still or sparkling, fruity, classics etc. 

Your guests will spend on average only 109 second reading the menu so they need to be impactful, engaging and easy to navigate.

Hail your hero

If you have a drink on promotion or that provides high margin for your outlet, make sure adequate focus is given on your menu. This will grab your guests attention.

72% of guests would order a drinks special if highlighted on a menu.*

**MCA Allegra, bespoke On-Trade research June 2016

Love low calorie

Guests are now looking for healthier alternatives, so it's important to shout about your ranges of low and no added sugar products. Use of low calorie icons, or adding calorie content next to featured drinks can be really effective. If you have enough room, why not group these lines in a 'better for you section'. 

68% of people agree that the provision of healthy options has an impact on their choice of where to eat and drink out.*

*CGA Brand Track 2018


Frame the way

The human eye is drawn to items that are located in boxes/frames, different colour or shading can also be really effective in creating stand-out. So if you want to promote a feature product, putting a box around the product is a simple way to really grab guests attention. 

Be selective, choose only the key lines you want to highlight, one per section is optimal.

Paint a picture

We eat and drink first with our eyes. Great imagery on your menu can entice and encourage your guests to order something different to their norm or trade up. Use photos, logos, illustrations to showcase your favourite drinks and dishes. Take care to not overload your menu with pictures as this can actually end up looking cluttered and detracting from the overall impact. 

A single high quality product image on a menu has been shown to drive sales of that item by up to 30%. 

Inspire desire

Make guests mouths water. Having a really nice descriptor will make the food or drink item sound so much more appealing. and it can also help support your pricing. 

For drinks consider the use of words like, refreshing, lightly sparkling, tantalizing & aromatic – bring the flavours of the drink to life e.g zesty orange, crisp apple, sweet raspberry.

For food, ignite the senses using words – such as “fiery,” ”savory” and “tender”. Inject some cultural/heritage cues with "Cajun”, “Italian”, “Spanish”, “Local” or go nostalgic with terms like “home-style,” “traditional”. Another great trick is to use crafting words like "5 layer cake", "slow cooked", "steamed" or "skewered". 

34% of guests say that a description of a drink would inspire them to order

Path to premium

We know that guests are looking for experiences they can’t get at home. This is the same for food and drink. For food, it's those added extras from the ingredients you use, to the presentation on the plate. For Drinks, make sure you have a premium selection to suit your outlet and serve them with panache, it could be a simple as an R.White's Cloudy lemonade served in a funky glass, or as complex as a premium mixer and garnish to elevate your spirits.

Remember not to simply rely on the menu to do the job for you. 64% of guests would order a special if they are recommended by a member of staff.