Beyond the Plate: Menu Presentation Matters


So, you want to improve your restaurant or QSR menu?

That’s great, because right now is the perfect time, according to trends analyst Nancy Kruse. In 2015, consumers are honing in on a “big is bad, small is beautiful mindset,” putting small businesses at a “strategic advantage,” she says.

How do you profit from said advantage?

It’s more than just adding local kale, serving organic, gluten free and offering fresh vegan options.

You can incorporate all of the buzz foods of the moment, but you will have to do more than just prepare with the most-desired ingredients.

“It’s not enough that you’re doing it. You have to communicate it,” says Kruse.

Need the tools to communicate your menu effectively? Here you go:

Design it right

Psychology and even subliminal messaging should all be considered when you’re deciding on the look and order of your menu design.

“Red and blue stimulate appetite, while gray and purple stimulate satiation,” according to a New York Times article.

Highlighting the most expensive, profitable or special item in the upper right corner is recommended. (Adding it next to an inexpensive item has also been proven to have it’s perks.)

Including a photo or graphic along with the featured item is proven highly effective.

Word it right

The names you choose for your dishes and the words you use to describe them could make or break your business. But no pressure, right?

Here are some tried and true ideas:

  • Reassure customers of your food’s authenticity with names like “Grandma’s German Chocolate Cake” or “Aunt Peggy’s Famous Custard.”
  • Use brand name ingredients and feature them on the menu (think “PBR Battered Wings” or “Moet Mimosas”).
  • Consider a publicity stunt by adding a local celebrity’s favorite dish to your menu with their name attached.
  • Give the impression that your menu items are customized and not mass produced. Words like “hand tossed” make it known that your offerings are one of a kind.

Price it right

Let’s say you’ve designed to perfection and selected ideal names, all that’s left is to add the prices (at the end of each description, of course).

Menu researchers have shown that patrons are much more likely to buy, say, chicken for “10” as opposed to “$9.99.”

In short, it’s not recommended to:

  • Precede any price with a dollar sign or include the word “dollar” anywhere on the menu.
  • Include pricing in the form of cents. (If you must, do not end it in “.99”)
  • Highlight pricing in any way that makes it stand out.

Have you tested out any menu enhancements and found them effective? Share below!

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