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5 Secrets to Restaurant Menu Design

Your menu - along with your restaurant’s atmosphere and waitstaff - are what needs to sell each and every meal. But there’s more to your menu than just a layout of pretty pictures. In fact, in today’s society, many have become accustomed to certain structures and setups that help lead them through a menu and to the exact item they’ve been looking for. Thrillist sat down with the Culinary Institute of America to discuss different menu design secrets that can improve your sales and increase customer purchases. Here are our top 5 favorite recommendations. 

  1. Pay Attention to Pricing Lists: Do you list prices with dollar signs? Are all of the prices listed in an easy-to-read column? Both of these details can actually cause customers to price shop through the items or select cheaper options. When it’s easy to compare listed prices, or when you get to see the ‘dollar sign’ with the cost of the item (which can be off-putting to encouraging bigger spending), then you may see that your ticket sales are smaller. Instead, list prices at the end of menu items, and try to avoid the dollar sign where possible.

  2. Guests Should See All Options At Once, Except…: -except your dessert menu! For appetizers and main courses, be sure to list all available options on one page. The average time a customer spends on your menu is about 109 seconds, so anything larger than a tri-fold can just be overwhelming for your customer.

  3. Design Your Dessert Menu Thoughtfully: As we’ve just said, you’ll want to ensure that your dessert menu is completely separate from the main course menu. Consider that one of your desserts may be so tempting that it causes your customer to forego their appetizer in anticipation! At the same time, include these basics in your dessert menu to cover all of your bases: citrus, coffee, caramel, chocolate, cheesecake.

  4. Balance Your Menu: Have you ever gone to a restaurant with a loaded menu only to find that their dessert menu has 2 or maybe 3 options? It can be disappointing, especially if you planned to see the reflection in options throughout the evening. Balance your menu with  10 apps, 10 mains, and six desserts, with at least one vegetarian app and entree.

  5. Understand the Psychology of Selection: For two page menus, customers typically start by looking at the right-hand page, just above the center. That may sound strange, but their next destination for wandering eye will then go to the top and bottom of the list on the left-hand page! Thus, load up these specific areas with your highest-grossing ticket items to pack the most punch.

Your menu design can increase ticket sales when set up with the customer in mind. Keep things simple while ensuring that each item has an enticing description. Don’t overload with images!


Sales Consultant


E Friedman Associates Inc

T: 800-555-0666 x 1975

D: 516-882-1975



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