Chefs discussing optimized menu on clipboard in commercial restaurant kitchen

There are plenty of websites out there to help you design a great looking menu, with pretty fonts and colors, but how do you know if your restaurant menu design is using the right pricing, and has a layout that draws guests’ attention to the more lucrative dishes?

Upserve has launched the first “Smart Menu” builder template that uses data-driven best practices and taps into the psychology of menu design and recent research to deliver a menu design template that restaurateurs can use to build their own menu.

‘Upserve has launched the first “Smart Menu” builder template.’

This interactive menu template, “Your Menu Here,” integrates field research on menus from restaurants across the U.S., and a psychological understanding of human behavior, to help restaurateurs build a menu that is both designed to improve guest experience from an aesthetics standpoint, and optimized to deliver higher margins. Key insights that inform the (free) customizable menu reveal:

  • The fewer items on your menu, the better
  • The precise number of items that should be on your menu
  • The optimal ratio of food to drink items
  • How to lay out menu items in a visually appealing way
  • Which items to list first
  • Why longer menu item descriptions sell more food

Owner of restaurant explaining changes in online optimized restaurant menu to waitress

Any restaurant patron has had this experience: You’re looking over the menu, when the server comes over once, twice, sometimes multiple times to see if you’re ready to order. Finally, panic sets in and the first entrée that you see is what you end up choosing. Dissatisfaction is inevitable if there is an overwhelmingly large menu of options.

This interactive menu template, “Your Menu Here,” integrates field research on menus from restaurants across the U.S.

Upserve recently analyzed millions of transactions from restaurants around the country, and found that restaurants have way too many items on their menus, especially when it’s a fact that 80 percent of a restaurant’s food sales come from only 16 percent of menu items.

Based on this data, Upserve identified a Golden Menu Ratio for increasing margins, and embedded this ratio within “Your Menu Here”:

  • Entrees account for nearly half (49 percent) of sales, so restaurant owners should ensure that these dishes are the ones with the highest margins.
  • This allows owners to accept some smaller losses on popular but lower margin appetizers and desserts, which account for 31 percent and 19 percent of total sales, respectively.

The template also includes best practices from the psychology of menu design, including tips like:

  • One photo next to a menu item increases sales by 30 percent.
  • Longer menu descriptions sell 30 percent more food.

A related infographic, “The Science of Restaurant Menus” illustrates 12 key data-driven and psychological factors to consider for restaurant menu design, should you prefer to start a menu from scratch. To get started on building a Smart Menu, click here.


80% of a restaurant’s food sales come from only 16% of menu items. How do you know which ones? The perfect menu is just a click away with Upserve's Menu Builder.

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When she's not debating with her young sons about which Star Wars character is the best one, Carol Lin is likely to be ordering a Lychee martini and spicy tuna roll at her neighborhood sushi joint. She loves controversial (but delicious) foods like foie gras and haggis, and believes there’s few problems that a conversation over buffalo wings and cold beer can’t solve.