open restaurant menu

Designing your restaurant menu can be overwhelming. Some days, the problem is taking your gazillion restaurant menu ideas and focusing them down to a few new items, and other days it seems like it’s all been done before and there’s nothing new to do.

When trying to come up with new restaurant menu ideas, whether you’re overflowing with inspiration or searching for ideas, it can be helpful to have a template in mind to help you turn those ideas into a reality.

restaurant menu at the table

Remember best selling favorites.

There will always be guests returning for something familiar, who have their favorite dish and order it every time they visit. Keep track of these best sellers and restaurant faves and be sure to always have some of your familiar favorites on the menu.

Pay attention to restaurant industry trends.

The restaurant industry can be just as trendy as any other industry. However, not all trends need to be represented at every restaurant. Stay up to date on what’s happening in the industry, but stay clear of trends that would seem out of place at your restaurant, or fads that will be out of date by the end of the week.

Use versatile ingredients.

Food waste can be expensive for a restaurant, and keeping your food costs in order can make a big difference to your bottom line. If you’re bringing a new ingredient in, try to use it in multiple dishes to get the most out of your investment.

chef preparing a new restaurant menu idea

Consider execution.

Ease of execution can sometimes be overlooked as chefs try new and interesting dishes. If you have a delicious item that takes way too long to cook, it may not be destined for success, no matter how delicious. Options on your menu need to be realistic for your kitchen staff to turn around in a reasonable amount of time.

Experiment with new dishes.

Just as there are those customers who will always order the same dish over and over, there are just as many who want to see what’s new with each visit. You don’t need to reinvent your whole menu all the time. Rotate select dishes seasonally, or update existing dishes with different seasonal ingredients.

How do you turn inspiration into new restaurant menu ideas?

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Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she’s not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she’s planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick’s on Broadway.