How to keep your restaurant menu fresh without sacrificing your brand.
Updating your menu occasionally can keep your customers engaged. It can also be difficult to stay inspired and maintain your restaurant brand while regularly updating your menu. However with a few simple tips, it can be easy to stay inspired, try new foods on your menu, and maintain the same great brand that keeps your customers coming back for years. Follow these 5 tips to keeping your menu fresh:
1. Research the Local Trends
One of the best ways to find new menu items and become inspired is to consider the local trends. What hot new item has been popping up on all the local sidewalk signs, menus, and online? Many restauranteurs will eat out on a fairly regular basis to learn about and experience new trends. While you don’t need to replicate trends exactly, it might be worth adapting the trend to your personal style and adding it to your menu. If the trend is garnering a lot of local attention, it will likely be a positive update for your restaurant.
2. Let Your Imagination Wander
It is very easy to fall into a habit when creating your menu. You know what you like and what has been popular in the past. That being said, variety is the spice of life and your imagination can easily spark some growth for your menu. The next time you’re contemplating a new menu item, or preparing a meal yourself, let your mind wander. Consider the following:
- What variations of this menu item would be interesting?
- How would you improve upon this item?
- Have your customers made any interesting observations about this dish?
- What would you want to prepare for yourself right now?
3. Set a Schedule to Change Your Menu
It’s easy to let changing your menu fall by the wayside. To ensure that your menu doesn’t become stagnant, set a schedule determining how often you will change your offerings. The schedule is entirely up to you, as well as how many menu items are actually changed out. Many restaurants will keep some foundational items on the menu year round. Popular menu change schedules include weekly, monthly, and seasonally. Some very ambitious restaurants even recreate their entire menu daily.
4. Visit the Grocery Store
There’s no better place to find inspiration than at the grocery store. While restaurant ordering is mostly done in bulk, sometimes going and touching and browsing produce can inspire your new menu. Whether you just take a stroll through the grocery store on your break, or go to shop for your own needs, you will have ample opportunity to become inspired by a wide variety of foods. Take particular notice of what is in season and how you can adapt your menu to your current time of year.
5. Keep Menu Tools on Hand
Changing your menu regularly can be easy if you keep the tools on hand to complete the task. Make sure that you are able to quickly and easily change your menu on all mediums. That means that you should be able to update printable menus quickly and easily either through your printing vendor or from your restaurant office. To save time and money, many restaurants use menu boards that can be updated by hand.
Updating your menu online and on your Point of Sale (POS) system should also be fast and simple. Your POS systems should have a WYSIWYG interface, allowing you to input changes to the menu and view what the change will look like in real time. Many POS systems will update the website automatically, ensuring that there are no discrepancies between the two platforms.
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