Menu Development

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The selection of one restaurant in preference to another will be influenced by many factors such as proximity to parking, location and price range. These elements might help prospective guests to decide where to eat breakfast, lunch or dinner.

The menu is the first area on which the chef has an obvious impact. The guest’s impression of an establishment can be affected by the way in which a menu is structured. That’s why it is important to consider the kind of dishes that may be offered, the appearance of local and seasonal items, the prices and so on.

Also the chef should have in mind the potencial customer’s spending behavior. For example, he or she needs to consider if the customers would prefer to a visit family-style restaurant, or to try a regional style of cookery or ethnic cuisine.

One of the great challenges in developing a menu is putting together a list of offerings that will not only please first-time guests, but that will also encourage them to return over and over again to try new dishes or to enjoy old favorites.

Menu Guidelines

Base menu selections on quality ingredients

The chef must know the best available product, and should select preparations or special dishes to highlight the superior items he or she purchased. The best product is locally produced and in season whether the food is a vegetable, game, fruit, fish, etc.

Keep menus grounded in the season as much as possible

There are certain times of the year when many foods will be at their best. This is the natural time to use them. Also, there will be seasonal preferences that may have to do with a change of weather.

Use locally produced products, where possible. Restaurants are part of the business community

It is important to try to work together with other businesses as much as possible. Locally produced things frequently will be much fresher than those shipped from long distances. They probably will also cost less because transportation costs may be significantly lower.

Use knowledge of classic preparations as a starting point

Some dishes are considered “standars” by which the caliber of the chef’s food preparation can be judged. However, contemporary palates might find the heaviness of some classic dishes unappealing. The chef can elect to update or vary these dishes as appropiate to generate customer interest.

Select items that will offer the guest a reasonable range of options within a price range while still maintaining a good check average

Just as it is a good idea to have wines at a number of different price levels, it is also good to have a range of entree prices. There will certainly be a general price range appropiate for the particular restaurant that will determine the upper and lower price limits. Within those boundaries, however, it is usually possible to offer a number of different options. Whatever the menu pricing strategy, it is essential that guests feel they have received to value for therir dollar and that the restaurant is able to turn a profit.