Keeping your restaurant menus up to date can seem like an arduous task. Fortunately, there are several approaches which expert restaurant menu designers, like Trillion, can point you toward.

At Trillion, we walk our restaurant clients through a series of questions which focus on developing the best approach for your menu design system. The questions that need to be answered by a restaurant owner or manager are:

  • What types of restaurant menus will you need? (breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, cocktails, wine list, specials, catering, delivery)
  • How often will your restaurant menus be updated?
  • Who will be updating your restaurant menus?
  • Where will your restaurant menus need to be shared? (paper menus, on your website, in-store menu boards, delivery menus)

The answers a restaurant owner provides to the questions above will help your graphic designer create a menu with the appropriate approach in mind. It will optimize the presentation of your menu items and your brand value as well as deliver an approach that makes the most sense for your restaurant. Below we list out several approaches for managing your menu.

The DIY Approach

Although the Do It Yourself (DIY) approach is alluring in that there seems to be no cost associated with creating menus yourself, it is likely the most frustrating and time consuming solution for restaurant owners. The biggest, and most common problem with this approach is that the menu will not look professional. The DIY approach can take many forms including typing out a menu in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or even (gasp!) Excel. These programs allow little room for design or consistency and cannot be used for professional printing. For a more detailed explanation of why you should avoid “designing” in Microsoft office software, read our article “Startling Reasons NOT to Design a Brochure in Microsoft Word”

The Designer Does Everything Approach


For restaurants who want beautifully designed menus with distinctive typography, flourishes and photography, the “designer does everything approach” is the way to go. Unlike the DIY approach, a restaurant menu designer uses professional design software which significantly helps to create beautiful layouts for each of your menus. Color, typography, shapes and multiple columns that match your restaurant’s aesthetic and brand can set the tone for your patrons and persuade them to select preferred meals from your menu. A restaurant menu designer can help you source appropriate menu holders, such as our design from Bourbon Street Bar & Grille (shown above) and setup files correctly for printing. Low resolution versions can also be optimized and created for use on your website. The draw back to the “designer does everything” approach is that only a designer or someone proficient in the professional design software can modify your menus, so this option works best for those restaurants who modify their menus less often.

The High-tech Approach


Digital technology is starting to gain popularity in restaurants. As an alternative to printed menus, restaurants can now opt to present customers with digital tablets containing their menus. You can also have your patrons place their order directly on the tablet, eliminating the need for your waiter to take orders and deliver them to the kitchen.

Quick service restaurants can display their menus via digital menu boards such as these. Pricing and menu changes are easy with these digital technologies and most importantly, can integrate with your point of sale (POS) system. The nice thing about digital menu boards that are integrated with a POS is that pricing and menu items can change on-the-fly based on the time of day, day of the week and other parameters which take advantage of supply and demand. Although the upfront cost of implementing a digital solution is quite high, the wow-factor for your customers, ease of use, and ability to leverage demand may make it a worth-while investment for your business.

The Mix and Match Approach


For restaurants looking for great design AND flexibility in their menu designs, a mix and match approach may be best for their business. For menus that do not change often, a designer can create a beautiful layout utilizing professional design software. For menus that are changed frequently, such as weekly specials or a tasting menu, they can be created in Word or hand-written, and printed on matching paper. Pre-printing menu paper with your restaurant’s logo and fixed design elements is a great way to connect professionally designed menus with other DIY special menus.

How do you choose the right menu approach for your business?

Every restaurant owner or manager needs to consider how, when and who will be modifying their menus. Defining your top priorities in regards to editing your restaurant’s menu, whether it is aesthetics, budget or staff bandwidth, is an important decision. If you need help determining the right menu approach for your restaurant, we’d love to help. Contact Trillion at 908.219.4703 to discuss your restaurant menu design needs. You can also click here to submit your information via our contact form.