Avoid These Common Errors When Designing Your Restaurant Menu

Before your guests even try your food, they'll form an impression of your restaurant based on your menu. In order to ensure that the impression is a good one, it's essential that you take the time to plan and design your menu carefully before submitting it to a printing company like 1800 Printing. Avoid these common mistakes, and you'll be well on your way towards menu success.

Mistake #1: Not including enough detail in your dish descriptions.

If you don't tell your guests a little bit about each dish on the menu, your waitstaff will be over-burdened answering questions about dishes. Speed up the ordering process, and make it easier for your guests to choose the dishes they like, by including a brief description of each offering. Of course, standard dishes like hamburgers and pizza won't require as much detail, but unique dishes created by your chef may require a sentence or two to highlight the flavors and ingredients that guests can expect.

Mistake #2: Failing to indicate whether or not substitutions can be accommodated.

Guests may be disappointed if they ask the waiter to substitute a side dish or ingredient, but the waiter has to inform them that substitutions are not allowed. Specifying in print on the menu that substitutions are not allowed is a milder way to explain this preference to your guests. On the other hand, if you welcome substitutions, you can indicate this on your menu, too. Guests will enjoy knowing that they can personalize their meals. Either way, the honesty in a simple statement of either "substitutions are welcome," or "we're sorry, but we cannot accommodate substitutions," will make a good first impression on guests.

Mistake #3: Including too much (or not enough) or your restaurant's story on the menu.

Guests will enjoy knowing a little bit about your restaurant's story, whether you opened the place yourself after graduating from culinary school, or inherited it from your grandma who first opened the doors in 1930. This story helps them feel welcome and connected to your business. However, they won't want to read two full pages of text. Include a brief paragraph about your restaurant's history on the back of the menu, and point guests towards your website for more information.

Mistake #4: Letting grammatical errors slip through.

Grammatical errors make your menu look unprofessional. Using a possessive instead of a plural ("dish's" rather than "dishes"), mistaking "your" for "you're," and other similar errors may turn off certain customers. Make sure you proofread your document carefully, and have several other people look over it to make sure such errors do not fall through the cracks. If you can afford to do so, you may even wish to have a professional writer or editor look over your menu to make sure it's error-free.

Mistake #5: Using too many confusing colors and patterns.

The best menus are clear and concise. They have an attractive design, but not too many bright colors or patterns. You want your guests to feel relaxed and at ease, not overwhelmed, when they look at your menu. Choose one element of your restaurant's decor, such as the style of flowers on your wallpaper or the font on your sign, and incorporate it into your menu. Other than that, aim for simplicity and clarity. Rely on neutral colors and avoid using more than one or two pictures or embellishments.

Your restaurant's menu is an on-paper version of your chef's greatest creations. Make sure it speaks to the high quality of your establishment by avoiding the mistakes above. Avoid rushing to design your menu -- if you take the time to do it carefully, you'll create a document that entices your guests and makes a wonderful impression.