Skip to main content
food and drinks on table with menu

What is the purpose of a restaurant menu?

A restaurant menu’s purpose is to provide essential information to a customer who is choosing what to order at a restaurant. Information such as the name of the dish, a description of how it’s made or of the ingredients, as well as the price can all be included on a menu. Having a menu allows the customer to make a decision on what to order and to have the proper details of what the dish entails.

The importance of a menu in a restaurant is to communicate to the customers what your restaurant has to offer. Other important information such as allergy awareness and possible alternative preparations can be included as well. If the menu has an item on it, the kitchen staff or bartenders should be able to make it in most cases.

Some types of restaurant supplies an establishment needs relates to what items the menu has on it. If the restaurant offers pizza, bar food, or even high-end items, the supplies you need depend on your menu. A menu has multiple purposes and is a very important aspect if a restaurant.

Why is it beneficial for a restaurant menu to be simple?

Having a menu that is easy to read and simple to understand can be beneficial to both the restaurant staff as well as the customer. Keeping the description of the menu items short, concise and with words that are easy to comprehend can help reduce confusion or misunderstanding when it comes to what is in the dish.

Even if you work in an upscale restaurant, your menu can still be simple and elegant at the same time. Having a menu that is easy to understand and read can help customers choose what they want to order faster. As a result, it can help the restaurant staff turnover tables quicker. One of the goals of working in or running a restaurant can be to get as many customers through the door as possible, along with giving them a great dining experience. A menu that is short and simple can help with getting more customers through the door because it cuts down on the time it can take them to decide what to order.

How to develop a restaurant menu?

Developing a menu for a restaurant can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you take small steps and put lots of thought into the concepts behind it. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when developing a menu:

  • Think about the concept and theme of the restaurant and what you want your ideal menu to look like. Start by sketching out how you want to place food categories on the menu, and how many items will fit into each category.
  • When it comes to food categories, it is suggested that you place items such as drinks and appetizers towards the top of the menu, followed by salads, entrees, sides, and then desserts. The reasoning is because the organization of the menu should represent the order in which a customer would eat these items. It can also make it easier for customers to find each category and order quicker.
  • It is also suggested that restaurants limit the number of menu items that are in each category. A fairly new strategy within the restaurant industry has been to highlight less items per category because “less is more.” This means that including between 6-8 items per category can satisfy the customers without overwhelming them with too many options. Having fewer items can also give the kitchen staff more time to focus on each dish and to get orders out quicker.
  • If your restaurant wants to highlight or draw attention to a certain category, consider making a separate menu in order to do that. For example, if you want to highlight beverages or desserts, create a separate beverage menu or a dessert menu so that guests have to look at multiple lists. This can give your restaurant a chance to add more items to the separate menus and offer more.
  • Consider adding dishes that cater towards different dietary restrictions or various lifestyles. This can help expand your customer base which can get more people through the door. Examples can include gluten free, dairy free, kosher, vegan, vegetarian, and low calorie. Having various dish offerings can set your restaurant apart from others.
  • Come up with your prices for each dish. A rule of thumb is to divide the cost of goods by your ideal cost percentage. In order to make a profit, most restaurants use 20-30% to come up with their menu pricing. For example, if an appetizer costs $3.50 to make, the menu price would be between $9-$11 following this method. Prices may fluctuate depending on the location of the restaurant, how big or small your establishment is, as well as the food quality that is purchased.
  • Provide descriptions of the menu items. By writing descriptive details about the menu items, you can entice customers to order something they might not have ordered without the description. Details can make a dish sound appetizing and irresistible.

How to create a new restaurant menu both physical and digital?

After creating the concepts, descriptions, and outlines of the menu, it’s time to design it both on paper and online. Designing a simple yet beautiful menu can be a great asset to the restaurant. Here are some tips for making menus, both physical and digital:

  • Use colors and designs on the menu that are in line with your restaurant’s brand and theme. If your restaurant has a certain style whether that be the décor or the type of food, carrying that into the design of the menu can tie everything together.
  • Hiring a designer can help to create both versions of your menu but if that isn’t in the budget, creating them on a general design website can work as well. There may be things you wish to change before finalizing it, so instead of printing multiple copies it can be helpful to see one and mark it up first. This can save paper as well as ink.
  • Make sure everything is aligned properly and is aesthetically pleasing. Mistakes can easily be noticed by guests, so making sure that the menu items look good on the paper is important.
  • Add features such as a QR code to make your menu more modern. The QR code can link to your restaurant’s social media, the website, or upcoming events that are happening that involve the establishment.
  • If the menus are made of paper and your restaurant wants to save resources, menu covers are a great way to save paper and can make the menus look professional.

What are some important things to consider when creating a new restaurant menu?

There are many things to consider before, during, and after creating a restaurant menu. Planning and executing the menu can take time and energy because it is an important component the guest sees throughout their dining experience. It’s helpful to also consider neighboring restaurants that might be similar to your restaurant. Their prices, food offerings and amount of traffic they get can compete with your restaurant, so it’s important to see how your menu can differ from theirs.

Staying true to your restaurant and its unique features when creating a menu can show how special it is. Adding things like your logo, operating hours, contact information, or information about the chef can help your menu stand out and be a resource for guests to use for further dining experiences.

How to Create a Menu

Coming up with a concept, designing a layout, and developing descriptions to go along with your menu items can take lots of time and energy. Having a simple and easy to read menu can allow your customers to decide what to order faster and can help them have a great dining experience. Menus are very important to a restaurant’s success, and with modern features, a digital version, and strategic branding methods it can help with business. Whether you create your menu in-house or hire a graphic designer, it can be a great component to your restaurant and can keep customers coming back.


Clover. How to Create a Restaurant Menu. ( Accessed January 31, 2023.

RestoHub. Restaurant Menu Design, Menu Layout & Menu Size. ( Accessed February 2, 2023.

Revolution Ordering. How to Make a Restaurant Menu: 4 Steps To Creating a Menu. ( Accessed January 31, 2023.