A Recipe For Success
By Leslie LynnHands down, themost important elementof any great restaurant isthe culinary experience itdelivers to its guests. Whether your guests are try-ing new and exotic tastes or coming back for oldfavorites, it’s your restaurant’s food that makes theexperience memorable. Your brand, and its promise, should comeshining through your menu items. Your success inaccomplishing that will be the defining differencebetween you and the competition.
Appealing to the Senses
Creating a menu of carefully-selected, relevantand inviting items that speak your brand ensuresthat your guests not only experience your uniquedifferences through what they see, but also throughwhat they taste. Your guests are counting on youto deliver a dining experience that is authentic andappropriate for your concept.
One of the hallmarks of a great menu is thesuccessful “storytelling” of the brand through thenames and descriptions of its items. Guests are onthe lookout for menu items that reflect familiarfavorites that are prepared and presented in new andexciting ways.Remember, your guests will spend only anaverage of two minutes reading your menu so thenames, description and layout of your menu are vitally important. The organization of menu items,the typeface and color palette do not only convey your restaurant’s image, but can also be strategically geared towards increasing profits.
The Signature Dish
There is no better way to gain a strong footholdin a defined theme than through signature dishesand drinks. These items are the original creations of your restaurant and establish defining differencesbetween your concept and other restaurants in yourcategory.Own a dish and you obsolete your competitionin tat menu category. You want your guests to say,“When I want a steak, I only go to……” Don’t be thebest at what you do, be the only one who does whatyou do!
A savvy beverage menu will boost sales andcreate unique niches that will be hard for your com-petitors to duplicate. The repackaging of successfultraditional favorites through creative naming anddistinctive glassware can be combined with severalsignature cocktails of your own creation to create a unique offering.
Identify the Trends
Every menu should be in a constant state of evolution. It’s one of the most effective avenues tokeeping your brand fresh and relevant. Keeping ontop of current and emerging trends is a vital com-ponent to menu mix management. Determiningwhat’s hot and what’s not is easy.
Once you have perfected the menu items thatembody your restaurant’s brand, the best way to show-case them is through alluring plateware, serviceware,flatware and glassware. It is important that the pre-sentation you choose for your menu items enhancetheir unique characteristics, not overpower them.
The Proof is in the Pudding
Your restaurant can be elegant, hip, creative,fun or offbeat, but if it can’t deliver the promise of your brand through its menu items, your conceptwill fall flat. Creating great menus is a process of blending creative force with analytical principles. Inessence, it is finding the perfect balance between artand science.
Leslie Lynn is senior director of restaurant opera-tions consulting for Quantified Marketing Group, the U.S. largest full-service strategic marketing and public rela-tions firm focused exclusively in the restaurant industry.For more information, visit www.quantifiedmarketing.com.
Feb. 2008 No. 1
Promoting U.S. food & agriculture in China