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MENU PLANNING. From design to evaluation. Rationale.

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menu planning


From design to evaluation


Everything starts with the menu. The menu dictates much about how your operation will be organized and managed, the extent to which it meet its goals, and even how the building itself - certainly the interior - should be designed and constructed.

  • To explain the importance of a menu
  • To explain the basic rules of menu planning
  • To identify factors to be considered when planning a menu
  • To identify constraints in menu planning
  • To plan and write a menu
must satisfy guest expectations
Must Satisfy Guest Expectations
  • Reflect your guests’ tastes
  • Reflect your guests’ food preferences
  • Ascertain your guests’ needs
must attain marketing objectives
Must attain Marketing Objectives
  • Locations
  • Times
  • Prices
  • Quality
  • Specific food items
must help to achieve quality objectives
Must help to achieve Quality Objectives
  • Quality standards:

flavor, texture, color, shape, flair,

consistency, palatability, visual appeal,

aromatic apparel, temperature

  • Nutritional concerns:

low-fat, high-fiber diets, vegetarian

must be cost effective
Must be Cost-Effective
  • Commercial

financial restraints

profit objectives

  • Institutional

minimizing costs

operational budget

must be accurate
Must be Accurate
  • Truth-in-menu laws exist in some localities,

cannot mislabel a product

    • “butter” must use butter not margarine
    • “fresh” must be fresh, not fresh frozen
    • “homemade” not purchased “ready-to-heat”
    • “USDA Choice” actually “USDA Good”
facility layout design and equipment
Facility Layout/Design and Equipment
  • Space
  • Equipment available
  • Work flow
  • Efficiency
available labor
Available Labor
  • Number of Employees
  • Required Skills
  • Training Programs
  • Standard recipe
  • Availability of the ingredients required during the life span of the menu
  • Seasonal ingredients
  • Cost
  • Miscellaneous cost (flight charges, storage)
marketing implications
Marketing Implications
  • Social needs
  • Physiological needs
  • Type of service

(fast food, leisure dinning)

  • Festival
  • Nutrition
quality levels and costs
Quality Levels and Costs
  • Guests’ expectation
  • Employees’ skills and knowledge
  • Availability of equipment
  • Specific ingredients
  • Food costs and selling prices
the menu helps to determine staff needs
The Menu Helps to Determine Staff Needs
  • Variety and complexity increases, number of personnel increases
    • Production staff
    • Service staff
    • Back-of-house staff
the menu dictates production and service equipment needs
The Menu Dictates Production and Service Equipment Needs

Tableside service

  • carving utensils, trolleys, gueridon, salad bowls, suzette pans, souffle dishes, soup tureens, large wooden salad bowl, rechaud, Voiture (heated cart for serving roasts) and ......
the menu dictates dining space
The Menu Dictates Dining Space
  • A take-out sandwich or pizza operation would require no dining space and the amount of square feet required per person would be minimal.
  • On the other hand, if a restaurant offers a huge salad buffet, dessert selection or an after-dinner trolley, wide aisles would be needed to allow guests ease of movement and moving of equipment.
purchase specifications may be dictated by the menu
Purchase Specifications May Be Dictated By The Menu
  • If the menu offers such items as USDA Choice New York strip steaks, quarter-pound lean beef burgers, grade AA eggs, freshly squeezed Florida orange juice, or vine-ripened tomatoes, back -of-house procedures will not only include receiving, storing, issuing, and producing the menu items but also purchasing the specific products described. (When such factors as grade and portion size are not dictated by the menu, managers and chefs must determine purchase specifications and related quality factors.)
how and when items must be prepared
How and When Items Must Be Prepared
  • To stimulate guest interest, the menu planner may offer a dish prepared in a variety of ways:
    • Cooking methods
    • Poached, broiled, batter-dipped, deep fried
  • The finished product must be prepared using the method indicated on the menu
  • Small quantities cooking (a la carte)
  • Batch cooking
the menu is a factor in the development of cost control procedures
The Menu is a Factor in the Development of Cost Control Procedures
  • As the menu requires more expensive food items and more extensive labor or capital (equipment) needs, the property’s overall expenses and the procedures to control them will reflect these increased cost.
the menu and the service plan
The Menu and the Service Plan
  • Type and size of dinnerware
  • Types of flatware
  • Garnishes (place be service or production staff)
  • Timing requirement for ordering
  • Additional dining service supplies to serve the item
  • Special serving produces
  • Special information (doneness of the steaks, over easy or sunny side eggs, etc.)
menu design
Menu Design
  • First impression is always important, the entire menu should complement the operation

- Theme

- Interior Decor

- Design (Merchandising)

- Creativity

- Material

- Color

- Space

menu design1
Menu Design

- Type style and/or lettering

- Names of food items

- Description

- Popular items are at the top of a list

- Clip-ons, inserts (daily specials)

- Operations address

- Beverage service notice

- Separate menus for each meal period

- Separate menu for host/hostess and guests

menu styles
Menu Styles
  • A table d'hôte (a complete meal for one price)
  • A la Carte (items are listed and priced separately)
  • Combination (combination of the table d'hôte and a la carte pricing styles)
  • Fixed menus: a single menus for several months
  • Cycle menus: designed to provide variety for guests who eat at an operation frequently - or even daily
types of menus
Types Of Menus
  • Breakfast

(offers fruits, juices, eggs, cereals, pancakes, waffles, and breakfast meats)

  • Lunch

(features sandwiches, soups, salads, specials; usually lighter than dinner menu items)

  • Dinner

(more elaborate, steaks, roasts, chicken, sea food and pasta; wines, cocktails, etc..)

types of menus specialty
Types Of Menus - Specialty
  • Children’s
  • Senior citizens’
  • Alcoholic beverage
  • Dessert
  • Room service
  • Take-out
  • Banquet
  • California (breakfast, lunch and dinner menu items on one menu)
  • Ethnic
basic rules of menu planning
Know your guest

- Food preference

- Price

- Age

Know your operation

- Theme or cuisine

- Equipment

- Personnel

- Quality standards

- Budget

Basic Rules Of Menu Planning
selecting menu items
Selecting Menu Items
  • Menu category:
      • Appetizers
      • Salads
      • Entrees
      • Starch items (potatoes, rice, pasta)
      • Vegetables
      • Desserts
      • Beverages
common sources for menu item recipes
Common Sources For Menu Item Recipes
  • Old menus
  • Books
  • Trade magazines
  • Cookbooks for the home market
menu balance
Menu Balance
  • Business balance

- balance between food cost, menu prices, popularity of items, financial and marketing considerations

  • Aesthetic balance

- colors, textures, flavors of food

  • Nutritional balance
elements of menu copy
Elements Of Menu Copy
  • Headings

- Appetizers

- Soups

- Entrees

  • Sub-heading

- Under entree:

    • Steak, seafood, today’s specials
elements of menu copy1
Elements Of Menu Copy
  • Descriptive copy (describe the menu items)

- should be believable and made in short, easy-to-read sentences

- no description is needed for self- explanatory item. i.e. Low Fat Milk

truth in menu
  • Grading (foods are graded by size, quality, in line with official standards)
  • “Freshness” (cannot be canned, frozen or fresh-frozen)
  • Geographical origin (cannot make false claims about the origin of a product)
  • Preparation (if the menu says baked, it cannot be fried instead)
  • Dietary or nutrition claims (supportable by scientific data)
supplemental merchandising copy
Supplemental Merchandising Copy

Includes information such as:

  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Days and hours of operation
  • Meals served
  • Reservations and payment policies
  • History of the restaurant
  • A statement about management’s commitment to guest service
menu layout
Menu Layout
  • Sequence:
  • Appetizers, soups, entrees, desserts
    • Depends on the operation (side orders, salads, sandwiches, beverages)
    • Depends on popularity and profitability
  • Placement:
  • artworks; space; boxes; clip-on; etc.
menu layout1
Menu Layout


  • Menu’s size
  • General makeup


  • Printed letters
  • Font size
  • Type face
menu layout2
Menu Layout


  • Drawings, photographs, decorative patterns, borders


  • Texture


  • Color
  • Texture
common menu design mistakes
Common Menu-design Mistakes
  • Menu is too small
  • Type is too small
  • No descriptive copy
  • Every item treated the same
  • Some of the operations’ food and beverages are not listed
  • Clip-on problems
  • Basic information about the property and its policies are not included
  • Blank pages
evaluating menus
Evaluating Menus
  • Must set standards
  • Determine how menu is helping to meet standards
menu evaluation questions most often asked
Menu Evaluation: Questions Most Often Asked
  • Is the menu attractive?
  • Do the colors and other design elements match the operation’stheme and decor?
  • Are menu items laid out in an attractive and logical way?
  • Is there too much descriptive copy? Not enough? Is the copy easy to understand?
  • Is attention called to the items managers most want to sell, through placement, color, description, type size, etc.?
menu evaluation questions most often asked1
Menu Evaluation: Questions Most Often Asked
  • Have guests complained about the menu?
  • Have guests said good things about the menu?
  • How does the menu compare with the menus of competitors?
  • Has the average guest check remained steady or increased?
  • Is there enough variety in menu items?
  • Are menu items priced correctly?
  • Are you selling the right mix of high-profit and low-profit items?
menu evaluation questions most often asked2
Menu Evaluation: Questions Most Often Asked
  • Is the typeface easy to read and appropriate to the restaurant’s theme and decor?
  • Is the paper attractive and stain-resistant?
  • Have the menus been easy to maintain so that guests always receive a clean, attractive menu?
menu pricing
Menu Pricing


  • The reasonable price method: from the guest’s perspective - what charge is fair and equitable
  • The highest price method: sets the highest price that the manager thinks guests are willing to pay
  • The loss lender price method: an unusually low price is set for an item to attract guests
  • The intuitive price method: takes a wild guest, trail-and-error
menu pricing1
Menu Pricing


  • manager determines a reasonable food cost percent
  • then divides a menu item’s standard food cost by its reasonable food cost percent

Selling price = $1.50 (item’s standard food cost) = $4.55

0.33 (desired food cost percent)

menu pricing2
Menu Pricing


factors profit requirements and non-food expenses into menu item selling prices

Allowable = $300,000 - $189,000 - $15,000 = $96.000

food costs (forecasted (non-food (profit

food sales) expenses) requirements)

Budgeted food cost % = $96,000 (allowable food costs) = 0.32 or 32%

$300,000 (forecasted food sales)

menu pricing3
Menu Pricing


  • Know competitor’s menus, selling prices, and guest preferences
  • Lower your prices
  • Raise your prices
  • Elasticity of demand:

Elastic: price change creates a larger % in the quantity demanded (prices-sensitive)

Inelastic: the % change in quantity demanded is less than the % change in price

the menu the foundation for control
The Menu:The Foundation For Control













the menu influences
The Menu Influences
  • Product Control Procedures

every item on the menu represents a product to be controlled

  • Cost Control Procedures

careful cost control procedures must be followed, particularly when expensive products and labor-intensive service styles are used

  • Production Requirement

product quality, staff productivity and skills, timing and scheduling, and other back-of-the-house functions are all dictated by the menu

the menu influences1
The Menu Influences
  • Equipment Needs

equipment must be available to prepare products required by the menu

  • Sanitation Management
  • management must consider menu items in light of possible sanitation hazards
  • Layout and Space Requirements

the physical space within which food production and service take place - must be adequate for purchasing, receiving, storing, issuing, producing, and serving every item on the menu

the menu influences2
The Menu Influences
  • Staffing Needs

as menu becomes more complex, greater demands may be placed upon the staff

  • Service Requirements

the menu affects the skill levels required for service personnel, along with equipment, inventory, and facilities needed in the front of the house

  • Sales Income Control Procedures

elaborate menus require more stringent controls than simple menus

menu planning is also a tool for
Menu Planningis also.. A Tool for:
  • Sales

lists the items an operation is offering for sale

  • Advertising

communicates a property’s food and beverage marketing plans

  • Merchandising

target market expectations - products, service, ambience (theme and atmosphere), perceived value

  • Marketing Tool

strive to meet or exceed the expectations of its target market

priority concerns of the menu planner
Priority Concerns Of The Menu Planner

Priority Concerns of menu Planner

Wants and needs



Concept of Value

Quality of Item



Item Price



Object of Property Visit

Peak Volume Production

and Operating Concerns

Socio-Economic Factors

Nutritional Content

Visual Appeal

Sanitation Concerns

Demographic Concerns

Aromatic Appeal

Layout Concerns

Ethnic Factors

Equipment Concerns


Religious Factors

menu planning strategies
Menu Planning Strategies
  • Rationalization

its objective is simplification for the sake of operational efficiency

i.e., cross-utilization menu items use the same raw ingredients

- Menu when carefully plan can be a streamlining of the purchasing, receiving, storing, issuing, production, and serving control points.

- High-quality convenience foods make it easier to offer new items without having to buy additional raw ingredients

factors that influence menu planning strategies
Factors That Influence Menu Planning Strategies
  • Needs and wants of target markets
  • Several items from same ingredients
  • Storage requirements
  • Personnel skill levels
  • Product availability / seasonality
  • Quality and price stability
  • Sanitation procedures
external factors that influence menu changes
External Factors That Influence Menu Changes
  • Consumer Demands

decide which potential markets wants to attract

  • Economic Conditions

cost of ingredients, potential profitability of new menu items

  • Competition

many not want to serve next door’s best

  • Supply Levels

seasonal items, price to the quality and quantity

  • Industry Trends

industry’s response to new demands

internal factors that influence menu changes
Internal Factors That Influence Menu Changes
  • Facility Meal Patterns

existing meal periods - breakfast, lunch and dinner

  • Concept and Theme

the image may rule out certain foods that do not blend with its theme and decor

  • Operational System

costs for new equipment to the successful production and service of new menu items

pricing approaches
Pricing Approaches
  • Subjective Price Methods

intuition and knowing your guests (failed to relate profit and costs)

  • The Reasonable Price Methods

presumes value to the guest (what charge is fair and equitable)

  • The Highest Price Method

sets the highest price the guests are willing to pay

pricing approaches1
Pricing Approaches
  • The Loss Leader Method

an unusually low price is set for an item (or items) to bring guests in

  • The Intuitive Price Method

wild guess about the selling price

(pricing methods based on assumptions, hunches and guesses)

pricing approaches2
Pricing Approaches
  • Simple Mark-up Pricing Methods

designed to cover all costs and to yield the desired profit.

Three Steps:

1. Determine the ingredients’ costs

2. Determine the multiplier

3. Establish a base selling price


If food cost is to be 40%

Multiplier = 1 / desired food cost%

= 1 / .40

= 2.5

base selling price
Base Selling Price

If ingredient cost is $3.32

Base Selling Price = Ingredient Cost x Multiplier

$8.30 = $3.32 x 2.5

A base selling price in not necessarily the final selling price

prime ingredient mark up method
Prime-Ingredient Mark-Up Method

Base selling price = Prime Ingredient Cost x Multiplier

$8.30 = $1.59 x 5.22

or food cost is about 19%

mark up with accompaniment costs
Mark-Up with Accompaniment Costs

Entree / Primary Costs $3.15

Plate Cost +$1.25

Food Cost $4.40

Mark-Up Multiplier x 3.3 (30% food cost)

Base Selling Price $14.52

determining the price multiplier
Determining the Price Multiplier

Based upon:

  • experience or “rule of thumb”
  • contribution margin
  • impact of sales mix
  • does not reflect higher or lower labor cost
  • assume food cost associated with producing menu item are know
contribution margin pricing method
Contribution Margin Pricing Method

Contribution Margin refers to the amount left after a menu item’s food cost is subtracted from its selling price.

Two steps in setting base selling price:

1. Determine the average contribution margin required per guest

Non-Food + Required Profit = Ave. Contribution Margin Required/guest

No. of Expected guests

$295,000 + $24,000 = $3.75


contribution margin pricing method1
Contribution Margin Pricing Method

2. Determine the base selling price for a menu item

Base selling price = average contribution margin + Standard food cost

$7.35 = $3.75 + $3.60

ratio pricing method
Ratio Pricing Method

The ratio pricing method determines the relationship between food costs and all non-food costs plus profit requirements and uses this ratio to develop base selling price for menu items.

Three steps

  • Determine the ration of food costs to all other cost plus profit requirements

All non-food costs + Required profit = Ratio

Food costs

$160,000 + $21,000 = 1.34


ratio pricing method1
Ratio Pricing Method

2. Calculate the amount of non-food cost and profit required for a menu item

Non-food cost and profit required = Standard food cost x ratio

$5.03 = $3.75 x 1.34

3. Determine the base selling price for the menu item

Base Selling Price = Non-food cost and profit required + Standard food cost

$8.78 = $5.03 + $3.75

simple prime costs method
Simple Prime Costs Method

The term prime cost refers to the most significant costs in a food service operation: food, beverage and labor.

A simple prime costs pricing method involves assessing the labor costs for the food service operation and factoring these costs into the pricing equation.

Three steps:

1. Determine the labor costs per guest

Labour Cost per guest = Labour costs / No. of expected guests

$2.80 = $210,000 / 75,000

simple prime costs method1
Simple Prime Costs Method

2. Determine the prime costs per guest

Prime Cost per guest = Labour cost per guest + menu item’s food cost

$6.55 = $2.80 + $3.75

3. Determine base selling price

Base Selling Price = Prime costs Per guest

Desired Prime Costs%

$10.56 = $6.55 / 0.62

specific prime cost method
Specific Prime Cost Method

Specific Prime Cost Method - develops mark-ups for menu items so that the base selling prices for the items cover their fair share of labor costs.

  • Divide the menu items into 2 categories:

(A) extensive preparation

(B) non extensive preparation

  • clean up, and other non-preparation activities
specific prime cost method1
Specific Prime Cost Method
  • Allocates appropriate % of total food costs and labor costs to each category

(A) 60% of the total food cost

(B) 40% of the total food cost

(A) & (B) 55% of all labor costs

45% of all labor costs is incurred for service,

specific prime cost method calculations
Specific Prime Cost Method - Calculations
  • Operating Category A Category B Budget Item Budget % (extensive preparation) (Non-extensive Preparation)
  • Items Items

(1) (2) (3) (4)

Food Cost 35% 60% of 35% = 21% 40% of 35% = 14%

Labour Cost 30% 55% of 30% = 17% 40% of 13% = 5%

All Other Cost 20% 60% of 13% = 8% 40% of 20% = 8%

Profit 15% 60% of 15% = 9% 40% of 15% = 6%

Total 100% 67% 33%

Mark-Up 100% =2.9% 67% = 3.2 33% = 2.4

Multiplier 35% 21% 14%

important pricing considerations
Important Pricing Considerations
  • The Concept of Value (price relative to quality)
  • The Basic Law of Supply and Demand
  • Volume Concerns Must be Considered
  • Price Charged by the Competition for a similar Product
evaluating the menu menu engineering
Evaluating The Menu: Menu Engineering

Basic Menu Engineering Process:

  • Stars - items that are popular profitable
  • Plowhorses - items that are not profitable but popular
  • Puzzles - items that are profitable but no popular
  • Dogs - items that are neither profitable nor popular
defining profitability
Defining Profitability
  • Contribution Margin

a “high” contribution margin for an individual menu item would be one that is equal to or greater than the average contribution margin

Average Contribution Margin = Total Contribution Margin

Total Number of Item Sold

defining popularity
Defining Popularity

Popular Index bases upon the notion of “expected popularity”

For example:

4 items on a menu and each is assumed to be equally popular, the sales of each would be expected to be 25%

100% ÷ 4 = 25%

Menu engineering assumes that an item is popular if its sales equal 70% of what is expected..

For example:

a food item is considered popular if its sales is:

25% x 70% = 17.5% of total sales

improving the menu managing plowhorses
Improving The MenuManaging Plowhorses

Items low in contribution margin, but high in popularity

  • Increase prices carefully
  • Test for demand
  • Relocate the item to a lower profile on the menu
  • Shift demand to more desirable items
  • Combine with lower cost products
  • Assess the direct labor factor
  • Consider portion reduction
improving the menu managing puzzles
Improving The MenuManaging Puzzles

Items high in contribution margin but low in popular

  • Shift demand to these items
  • Consider a price decrease
  • Add value to the item
improving the menu managing stars
Improving The MenuManaging Stars

Items high in contribution margin and high in popularity

  • Maintain rigid specifications
  • Place in a highly visible location on the menu
  • Test for selling price inelasticity
  • Use suggestive selling techniques
improving the menu managing dogs
Improving The MenuManaging Dogs

Items that are low in contribution margin and low in popularity:

Candidates for removal from the menu