restaurant menu design small restaurants

A menu is arguably the most important marketing material a restaurant has to sell itself. Which makes restaurant menu design crucial to the success of any restaurant, large or small. However, when you design a restaurant menu, there are a number of key points to bear in mind to ensure your menu looks good, and most importantly, boosts your bottom line.

Here are 8 restaurant menu design considerations for your restaurant.


1- Start By Writing Down All Menu Items in One Place

Forget about the aesthetic of the menu; the first thing to decide is the dishes and beverages you’ll be including on it. Whether it’s on a spreadsheet or using pen and paper, make a list of every item for sale so you can see them all together. Make sure they all reflect your concept.


When you design a restaurant menu, there are a number of key points to bear in mind to ensure your menu looks good, and most importantly, boosts your bottom line.


2- Optimize Pricing

Offer dishes at a variety of price points to capture diners who have different budgets. Use inventory prices and food cost percentages to decide what items to include, and where to include it. Try to limit the number of items at market price, which can fluctuate wildly. And people tend to spend more if you omit dollar signs next to numbers.

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.

Design Your Menu

3- Make Each Section Flow

Make it easy for customers to find what they want with a logical layout: appetizers first, then entrees, and desserts last.

4- Keep it Simple, Stupid

Don’t use long words, too many words, complicated language, or pretentious cooking terms that only a chef can understand to describe your food. Keep it simple, accessible, explain the major ingredients, and use adjectives to excite.

5- Draw Attention to Your Most Profitable Items

Most people’s eyes are drawn to the top right-hand corner of a menu first. However, the first two items in a list—and the last item—are often the most remembered and purchased. These are the places to put items with the highest gross profit. Or simply use design—such as a box around an item, to draw attention to it.

6- Choose Colors and Fonts Carefully

Your restaurant menu colors and font should reflect your restaurant theme. However, while a Victorian font may fit your fine dining theme, if people can’t read it, they won’t order off it.

7- Should You Have Photos?

Especially if you’re offering ethnic cuisine that most people may not have tried before, offering photos and numbers for each item makes it easy for diners to choose what they want. However, poorly done photos or imagery will undermine trust in your brand, so be sure to get images done professionally.

8- Bigger Ain’t Always Better

The size of a restaurant typically dictates how big the menu can be, with bigger kitchens able to prepare more menu items. A small kitchen servicing a large and complex menu is a recipe for problems during lunch and dinner rushes. Trying to offer guests too much variety inevitably results in some items being poorly executed.

Written by   |  
Mitchell Hall is a writer and editor living in Boston, MA. Originally from New Zealand, growing up he spent nearly ten years greedily imbibing the spirit of hospitality as a kitchenhand, waiter, and barman.