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The right menu design can reach more potential customers and increase your restaurant profit margin. Here’s how.

The benefits of a restaurant menu should be two-fold: One, it’s a piece of content that inspires and excites; second, it’s an instrumental document with the potential of raising the restaurant’s average profit margin. Here’s where menu engineering comes in. It isn’t enough to just list dishes according to starters, mains and desserts anymore. A design overhaul ensures that you highlight menu items that contribute the most profit, increasing your total revenue.

You’ve already done the field work by factoring in the food costs and categorising menu items with a popularity-profit matrix (if you haven’t, check out part one and part two of our series on menu engineering). The final step is arguably the highlight of the menu engineering process — designing a menu based on the data you have accumulated thus far.

Follow these five key pointers to improve your menu design before opening a restaurant:

    1. The order of items matter: When listing your menu items, place your stars (from the popularity-profit matrix) at the first few and last items. Often, the first and last items in the menu are the ones that attract the most attention, so ensure you place them there.
    2. Keep lists short: Each of your menu sections should have up to a maximum of seven items and fewer than five, where possible. Having more than seven items often leads to information overload for diners. This creates a situation where diners tend to select the most common item as their choice, which usually is not the most profitable.
    3. Use menu descriptions to personalise dishes: Most restaurants overlook how useful descriptions are in engaging diners. Instead of just listing the ingredients in the dish, give diners a reason to pick that dish. Crafting a short description breathes life into the dish, enticing diners with its promise of great flavours.
    4. Price is not the focus: Segmenting your prices into a separate column is a mistake that majority of restaurants make. Most owners or managers feel it is imperative for customers to be able to clearly identify prices. However, while that is still a valid concern, this actually leads to diners focusing on the price in isolation from the dish, affecting their decisions and dissuading them from selecting more expensive options.
    5. Keep testing your design: Coming up with an effective menu design is never easy, and it certainly isn’t one you should expect to nail on the first try. It is a constant process of finding out what works and what doesn’t, so tweak your changes to continuously improve. Test and reanalyse the impact your new design has on profit for the month that it has been implemented, and reassess and tweak the design when you feel comfortable. When it comes to designing your menu, there is always room for profit improvement.

Don’t miss part one and part two of our series on Menu Engineering. Want to find out more? Learn about our Chope products, and subscribe to Chope For Restaurants for tips on how to ace the restaurant business.


Henrik Chan

Henrik Chan has cut his teeth working as a B2B content marketer at Chope, connecting restaurants in Asia to resources and solutions. Finding joy in sports and film, he is Chope’s go-to critic on topics that range from Arsenal’s lineups to Christopher Nolan’s posse of performers.


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