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How to reinvigorate your menu

Keeping your menus up to date with the latest trends can help your business win in this fast-moving industry. As the world emerges from the COVID-19 crisis, trends are changing fast. Diners are looking for different things when they decide where and what to eat. Follow these tips to keep your menus fresh and exciting for your customers, while staying true to your style.

 

Woman checking phone

Include personality

Your menu isn’t just a list of dishes. It’s a chance to tell a story about your food and your business. A diner can tell a lot about the experience of eating your food just by looking at your menu, so it’s important to take some time to get it right.

To introduce your menu, why not include a few words to say what your business is and what it’s all about? If you have a specific point of view as a chef – maybe a particular type of cuisine, specific ingredients or cooking methods you use – you can share it with your diners to help them feel more connected with your food. If you’re a family business or have an interesting story of how you got started, include it. But remember – keep it short so it’s easy to read.

 

Restaurant menu on phone screen

Changing dining trends

A recent survey from Deliveroo found that 43% of diners want to eat more plant-based foods, while 29% think vegan options will become more popular. If you have dishes that fit into these categories, highlight them for your diners. Use a small symbol to show when a dish is vegan or vegetarian. We have lots of ways to promote your plant-based menu here.

As the world recovers from the impact of COVID-19, experts believe we’ll see a move towards more home cooking. Because of this, it’s possible diners will be looking for a more upscale experience when they eat out. Last year, fun and entertainment were lacking, so try to make a menu that can offer a one-of-a-kind experience. To achieve this, consider innovative cooking methods that people will struggle to copy at home – and highlighting the technique on your menu.

Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder of Gates Hospitality, has been quoted as saying: “It is time for venues and chefs to put their creative hats back on and go back to the drawing board to create menus that are out of the ordinary and not cookie-cutter solutions.”

 

Chefs happy thumbs up

Menu designs that wow

Make sure the design of your menu represents the personality of your business and the style of your cuisine. Ask yourself: is our place formal or relaxed? Local or international? Modern or timeless? All these qualities can inform how your menu looks, from the typography, colours, patterns and even what it’s printed on. A beautifully designed menu is a great asset to share on your social media channels too.

As we look ahead, we expect to see shorter, clearer menu layouts. Samantha Wood, a blogger who works with restaurants in Dubai to curate their dining experiences, says: “We are seeing more compact menus, which help restaurants manage their food costs and, as an added bonus, also limits food wastage.” Following Covid, many menus have opted for digital only, and this could be here to stay – so look at the structure of your menu to make sure your important dishes aren’t ignored because diners aren’t scrolling far enough!


If you rely on a wide-ranging menu, you could try offering a set menu option or cutting down on the number of dishes on offer. That said, millennials are reportedly big fans of ‘blended’ meals, where they can mix and match between mains, appetisers and dessert, especially if they’re ordering their food to go. So while it helps to keep menus short, some options for smaller dishes that can be easily added may please your customers.

 

Man swiping online menu

Naming your dishes

How you describe your dishes will help entice diners. If you use unique ingredients, don’t hesitate to include them in the names or descriptions of your dishes. As diners seek new culinary experiences, it can help if you offer more unusual dishes. You can add a line or two to your menu to explain the meal and how it’s made, so diners can be intrigued by the novelty, but feel confident that they know what they are choosing. Highlighting if a dish is vegan, organic or gluten free can entice diners through the door too.

Your menu is often the first thing diners see when they arrive. By adapting it to meet certain trends, you’ll help your business stay up to date and have your customers coming back for more.

Woman ordering from restaurant from menu