| | Print
restaurant menu

It happens too often – restaurant menus that you have maintained since opening your doors just don’t seem to move anymore. Yet, when you broach the idea of removing them, a little voice in your head convinces you to keep the nostalgic item a little longer, which impacts your inventory, and perhaps even your customers’ perception of your tired menu.

It’s time to stop listening to voices in your head and start listening to concrete POS analytics from your restaurant POS system.

restaurant point of sale

That shepherd’s pie is a little long in the tooth.

We understand how difficult it might be to remove long-time favorites from your menu. But numbers don’t lie. If your inventory continues to suffer under the weight of unused ingredients and wasted profit, let the sales figures help you through a tough decision.

Keeping “classic” items on your menu when they don’t sell is actually a deeper problem than just having separation anxiety. While those items may have helped launch your restaurant, low sales mean your clientele no longer want it, or no longer want it the way you prepare it.

chef in restaurant preparing a menu item

If you’re noticing a decline in classic cheeseburger sales, but your new blue cheese foie gras burger is flying off the grill, the metrics will show this. Maybe your audience simply wants some items that are more challenging and interesting to the palate.

Sales shifts reflect changing tastes.

And this trend likely doesn’t stop with burgers. If your menu is becoming more ornate and forward-thinking, and sales of these new items are moving, then let the dollars dictate where you go with your next menu update.

The truth is, not only does a stagnant menu lower sales of those items, but it also reflects poorly on your restaurant. Why would an otherwise unique establishment offer a boring burger or plain pasta dish alongside so many other creative items?

To you, it seems like an alternative for fans. To your customers, it reeks of apathy and a disconnect with their needs.

Watch the omissions and returned items, too!

Perhaps your customers love your entrees, but also seem to make substitutions with certain elements of the dish. It might be an extraneous mango salsa. It might be an odd vegetable pairing. It could be anything, really. The important thing you can track in your restaurant POS system is how often certain items are rejected by your customers.

Close up of waiter hand noting down menu on tablet. Young woman

Not only will substitution data allow you to better craft dishes that appeal to a wider range of people, but it also allows you to better manage inventory, reducing loss and creating an experience more guests will return for, time and time again.

In the end, menu optimization is a must. And it’s not difficult, thanks to your restaurant POS system. With such ease of use, and options available at your fingertips, there’s no reason to not put data to work for you. There are simply too many restaurants out there to risk losing customers because you stubbornly refuse to update menus to reflect customer needs.

Written by   |  
Brad Bortone is a writer, editor and content marketer, published in areas ranging from content strategy to music reviews, and seemingly everywhere in between. Brad's love of the food industry began during his tenure with Johnson & Wales University's web team, writing countless pieces about - and enjoying countless lunches from - the school's esteemed culinary program.