How To Create A Restaurant Menu Step by Step

6 minutes


Introducing your guide to making the best restaurant menu

There is no doubt that the hospitality industry is going to experience enormous growth. Consumers will be spending more, and a lot of mainstays are sadly out of business due to Covid. As disheartening as this might seem, there is still a growing opportunity for the savvy business owner. But where there are opportunities, there is also a lot of competition. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate guide to creating your restaurant menu. A profitable menu is a balance between different aspects, and it is something that you need to address strategically. Find out below how to create a successful menu step by step.

1. Analyze your sales reports
This first step is the most important: to improve your menu, you must base your decisions on numbers. Concrete data is the best source of information to measure the results of your menu. Your restaurant cash register system should be able to provide you with detailed and easily understandable sales reports quickly. When calculating a menu item’s profitability, consider the total number of units sold, not the profitability of a single unit. High-profit items will not affect your bottom line if you don’t sell them often.

2. Categorize the menu items
Now that you have a good idea of how valuable each menu item is, it’s time to categorize them. Check your existing menu to see which dishes are the most profitable and which are not. The best way to get a complete overview of each menu item’s profitability is to use a matrix. A menu matrix is a visual tool used to represent each menu item’s sales volume and gross income.

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3.Determine which dishes you want to include in your menu
Having too many choices on your menu is not ideal. Why ? When customers have too many options, they find it harder to decide what they want and are more likely to be dissatisfied with the choice they make.

4.Be strategic in designing your menu
A well-designed menu will influence the choices of your guests. Is there a specific high-margin dish that you want your customers to know about? Your menu design points them in the right direction. Here are the most important things to consider when designing your menu.

5.Plan the location of menu items
Ideally, your customers should see all of your dishes at a glance. A two-page menu is ideal. It offers enough space to display all your dishes legibly.


It is best to divide your menu into sections: starters, main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. Alternatively, you can choose to have a separate, smaller menu, especially for your desserts and cocktails. Consider using different sizes of fonts, frames, or photos to make the featured dishes stand out more.


On a two-page menu, the guests mostly look at the central part on the right side (known as the “sweet spot”), followed by the first and last item in each column. Place the bestsellers in these places so that it is the first thing your guests see.

6.Write imaginative descriptions
You want your menu to be as easy to understand as possible while describing each dish interestingly and appealingly. Your challenge is to minimize the number of words you use while making sure that each word has an impact.

7.Create an attractive drink menu
If your restaurant has a liquor license, you want to create a profitable cocktail menu. The steps described above also apply to cocktail menus: analyze your sales data and find out which drinks are the most popular and profitable.


The price of each cocktail must be between 150% to 300% margin. This may seem like a large margin, but this price increase will cover a large portion of the costs. Think about your toppings, glasses, labor costs, rent, tools, and even napkins. Each drink you serve should be expensive enough to cover part of the operating costs while making a profit on each sale.
Stay true to the personality of your restaurant.

As with the main menu and interior design, you want your cocktail menu to reflect your restaurant’s image. Don’t be afraid of being a bit stubborn – a unique drink menu can help you stand out from the crowd and build customer loyalty.

Some Additional Things To Consider:

Make an excellent first impression.
Your menu and the interior of your restaurant are the first elements that reflect your brand. So you need to make sure that your menu’s visual aesthetics match the image of your restaurant and the dining experience you want to offer your guests.

According to research, the average customer consults a menu for about 109 seconds. This means your menu should leave a good first impression in just over a minute. Make your menu as easy as possible to “scan” by dividing the menu into different sections.

Highlight your bestsellers
If you want to highlight certain menu items, you can highlight them by using certain colors, borders or other graphic illustrations. The goal is to get the customers attention to a certain part of the menu

Use imagery wisely
The number of photos you use in your menu, and the overall effectiveness of those photos depend on the type of restaurant you have.

Linking each menu item to a photo is often associated with fast food or very touristy restaurants. That’s why most restaurants avoid using photos – they don’t want their restaurant to look cheap. You can also use graphic illustrations.
Gregg Rapp, a menu engineer, reports that one image per page can increase sales of this product by up to 30% for medium and affordable restaurants.

If you’re using photos, make sure they capture the ingredients, colors, and textures of the dish – and don’t forget the dish’s presentation.

Descriptions should be short and concise.
Always make sure the descriptions are short and to the point. A long description only makes your menu more difficult to read and slows down your table’s turnover rate. Try to describe each meal in two lines. The trick is to focus on the necessary information: the ingredients, the taste, the texture, and the origin. “Tomato and mozzarella salad” sounds much worse than “Beef heart salad with fresh Campania buffalo mozzarella”.

Do not use the $ symbol.
The Dollar symbol allows your guests to choose the cheapest options. Why? Because each currency symbol immediately causes your guests to think about the expenses they will be spending. This is why it is better to omit the dollar signs and only place the numbers (so 15 instead of $15).
You want your guests to choose the meals that stimulate their senses, no matter what the cost – and removing the dollar symbol can help you do so discreetly.

Mention the origin of the ingredients
Indicate where your ingredients come from, whether local or from another region. “Sun-ripened Spanish tomatoes” is much more attractive than “tomatoes,” right?

Use adjectives
Adjectives are good as long as you use them in moderation. They help your customers imagine each meal’s structure, appearance, and taste—words like rich, creamy, homemade, and spicy sketch a beautiful image. You want the description to stimulate their senses.

Use bait
Another way to distract your guests from the price of a dish is to use a bait menu. Place a more expensive product near the dish you really want your guests to buy. The more expensive item makes the items around it more reasonable, which increases the chances of them being chosen (and that’s exactly what you wanted initially).

Keep up with the seasons and trends.
You want to give customers a reason to come back again and again. Consider making special seasonal cocktails. Take a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned or Tom Collins, and give it a seasonal touch.

Your menu is ready!
Now is the time to start using your new menu. The points above will help you design the most profitable menu that makes your brand shine. But this is just one of the things to a successful restaurant. Having a strong online presence is another vital component. The On Demand Company has helped over 600 restaurants like yours grow to the next level. The best part? Our initial consultation call is completely free! Feel free to learn more about us here!