Restaurant Menu Engineering

Why is Restaurant Menu Engineering more of a Science?

Menu engineering is the art and science of how and where to place items on your menu or menu board. Considering the average guest spends only about three to four minutes reading the menu, it’s extremely important to present your most profitable items in a manner that promote higher sales. This system will not only help you understand the profit contribution for each of your menu items, it also provides you with an invaluable tool for analyzing your restaurants product mix and how it affects your restaurant’s profitability.

Menu Engineering involves a number of scientific disciplines including:

  • Economics: Especially the concepts of price/demand elasticity and complementary vs. substitute goods. Ever thought why bars give you peanuts for free but charge you for water? When you eat peanuts (a complementary good) you become thirsty and you drink more beer which is profitable, but when you drink water (a substitute good) you’re not thirsty anymore and you won’t drink more beer.
  • Math and Statistics: Especially models and spreadsheets that are used to analyze detailed data of restaurant sales
  • Psychology: Especially behavioral analysis and ways to manipulate it – think decoy dishes, use of negative space, limiting choices, and predicting eye movements.

Why is Menu Engineering so Important?

Studies have shown that 60% of restaurants don’t really do any form of menu engineering, while 30% of them do it with little effort, and around 10% put in some high quality efforts.

A well-engineered menu can make a good profitable restaurant, but a badly-engineered one (or one that is not engineered at all) can easily drive a restaurant out of business.

You can leverage menu engineering to:

  • Increase the profitability of your restaurant by getting customers to order more of your profitable dishes
  • Boost the sales of your restaurant by getting customers to order more items that they normally would
  • Delight your customers by delivering a wholesome experience and the feeling of receiving good value for money

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