Menus hold the key to commercial kitchen planning in a food and beverage set-up. On a primary level, everything on the menu is stored, prepared, and cooked in the commercial kitchen. On a secondary level, this helps in commercial kitchen planning, types of equipment/appliances to be used in the kitchen area for food storage, and prep and utilization of kitchen space.
The people who understand the requirements of the menu and commercial kitchen plans are the chefs and the food service team. Since they are the ones that will be involved in the kitchen and food service space all day, they know exactly what is needed to bring the menu to life. Taking their opinion into consideration helps chalk out an effective blueprint for the menu design.
A good menu design always:
- Correctly follows:
- Menu Basics
- Menu Pricing
- Menu Engineering
- Crowded layouts
- Overly worded descriptions
- Unnecessary graphics
- Overplay of fonts
- Goes with the theme of the food and beverage set-up
- Keeps the commercial kitchen plan in mind
- Constantly updated to incorporate inflation and food trends (such as sourcing local foods).
- Reflects and understands the needs of its target audience
Elaborating a few points above that are crucial in a great menu design:
- Menu Basics
An ideal menu is a delicate and strategic alliance of classic food items and fresh food trends. This is done to balance the right food cost ratio to maintain and increase profits. This is a basic strategy to begin while designing a menu.
- Menu Pricing
Pricing of food items on the menu helps kill two birds with one stone, namely customer attraction and profits. Menu engineers suggest that prices of the food items should be placed mentioned after the food description, rather than on a column next to the food description. This can result in customers ordering the food for what it has to offer rather than just because of price. This strategy can lead to higher sales, as it’s more customer-friendly.
- Menu Engineers
Marketing and psychology are two arrows used by industries to hit their target audience. When it comes to menu design, there is no surprise here that it uses both marketing and psychology in the form of subliminal messaging, power of suggestion, influencing decision-making, etc. This is known as menu engineering and its experts are known as menu engineers.
Here are some principles highly recommended by menu engineers:
- Menus have a limited time to make a good impression. According to research, diners take 109 seconds to scan the entire menu and make a decision. Another trend noticed by menu engineers is with vertically arranged menus. Diners tend to spend most of the time looking at the first and last items on the menu, and for that sole reason, dishes in those spots tend to be hot sellers.
- Colors used in menu design can affect diners on a subconscious level. Color theory plays a pivotal role in advertising, product packaging, kitchen and restaurant design, uniforms of the food service staff, basically everything. When it comes to menus, two colors are known to help trigger appetite. Such as red and blue.
- Good menus evoke a sense of nostalgia in the minds of their diners. This is usually done by using words like ‘traditional cuisine or ‘homemade’. This is done to humanize a dish with a reference to the chef, or where the recipe of the dish originated from. Now the food is no longer a profit-making commodity, it becomes a food item with a soul.
- Commercial food and beverage set-ups that spend some time crafting mouthwatering dish titles and descriptions will reap the rewards and can result in an almost 30% sale hike. Menu engineers spend time with designers and copywriters to get the diner’s bud tingling with attractive words that can help build a strong appetite and are evocative.
ex: A field experiment at the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University found that menu labels with descriptive words such as ‘succulent Italian seafood fillet’ vs. ‘seafood fillet’ resulted in diners feeling more satisfied with their meal, resulting in favorable feedback on survey cards and social media.
How has menu design evolved post-covid?
- Menus are optimized for shorter visits (shorter and more focused), with an attempt in making kitchens more efficient with a focus on excellent cooking techniques to allow diners to sample the best possible food quality at the commercial food and beverage set-up, in a limited time frame. Since restaurants now can no longer function at their usual capacities, the turnaround time at tables needs to be reduced while maintaining the quality of the commercial food and beverage set-up.
- Menus are accommodating towards locally sourced foods that are easily accessible. Focus is on plant-based and fresh, made from scratch foods.
- Menus are kinder to a demographic that is prone to food allergies. Foods that contain Dairy, eggs, tree nuts, gluten or wheat, seafood, soybeans, and peanuts, are mentioned on menus.
- Menus are digital now to avoid contamination and transfer of pathogens.
One can infer that menu design plays a huge role in commercial kitchen planning. It requires a team of people who can collectively work together to put the message of a commercial food and beverage set-up. A team requires a good coach, and that’s where commercial kitchen planners come into the picture. Commercial kitchen planners are known to cover all aspects of conceptualizing, planning, designing, and implementation of a commercial kitchen and foodservice space. When it comes to menu design they work with designers, engineers, and copywriters who can deliver the desired layout on the recommendations of the chef and food service staff of the commercial food and beverage set-up.
HPG Consulting is a food service consulting group that has the best commercial kitchen design and planning that work tirelessly into making the vision of their clients come to life. With over 2 decades of experience in the commercial kitchen space, HPG’s commercial kitchen planners have assisted major food conglomerates in guiding, designing, positioning strategies, and operating solutions.
Connect with a commercial kitchen planner at HPG and develop a great menu design for your commercial food and beverage set-up.