Tips On Opening a Restaurant

More about restaurant menus

Ok, you signed a lease a month or so ago, your kitchen equipment is ‘mostly’ in, renovations to the dining area and front signage are ‘almost’ complete, your dishes, glassware and cutlery are due in ‘any day’ and you’ve scheduled a grand opening for two weeks . . . and somebody just asked “don’t we need menus?”

Not to worry. Remember one basic truth. Nobody ever walked out of a restaurant because they didn’t like the appearance of the menu and nobody ever said “let’s go to so-and-so’s restaurant, they’ve got a terrific looking menu.”

Here’s another basic truth: your menus can be the best salespersons you have and they won’t cost you any payroll taxes.

First step is to write the menu, the items and their descriptions. This should be a compromise between what you think your future patrons would like to see on the menu and what your kitchen can efficiently prepare. When in doubt, put fewer items on the menu that you can prepare well, rather than many items that can jam up your kitchen flow. You can always add more items later.

Organize the menu, the traditional headings are Appetizers, Salads, Pasta, Entrees, Specialties, Sides and Desserts, but there’s no hard and fast rule. Make a separate section for your ‘franchise’ items, the dishes for which you want to be known. There are plenty of free templates on the web that will give you ideas (or that you can copy).

Start with a low profile. Instead of a Grand Opening, just open the door when you’re ready, pick up a flashing “Now Open” sign at your local sign shop and try a week of serving real customers just to see how it goes. Think of it as beta testing your staff.

Don’t be embarrassed to set up your menus on your computer and print them on your inkjet printer. If it’s too much work, talk to your local printer or quick copy center. If you need a cover or something to hold all your menu pages use an inexpensive menu cover, such as Cafe Style Menu Covers, until you’re reasonably comfortable you’ve got the right combination of items on your menu.

#2 in a series of comments and suggestions by Mark R. Strange

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