When was the last time you updated your menu? With nearly 60,000 new restaurants opening annually,1 it’s essential to offer a fresh, innovative menu that can set you apart from the competition. After all, if you fail to innovate, your concept may struggle to keep the ever-changing needs of your customers fulfilled. From small changes to total makeovers, menu innovation should be carefully thought out to maximize the new offerings without hurting the baseline business.
Here are 5 Easy Ways To Refresh Your Menu
1. Premium Ingredients
Update your menu to reflect the growing demand for high-quality ingredients and responsibly raised animal proteins. Many consumers want to see the high value claims as it impacts their purchasing decision and demonstrates your commitment to high-quality ingredients. For example, 37% of consumers are willing to pay more for antibiotic-free foods and 44% would pay more for organic.2 Operators who are already menuing these high-value ingredients are seeing the results—4 in 5 operators that offer natural and organic menu items say these options have driven sales and traffic.3 Menuing powerful claims such as NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER, organic, or 100% vegetarian fed will not only demonstrate transparency among your diners, but can help boost your profit potential as well.
2. Global Influence
Driven by international travel and access to a wide variety of ethnic cuisines right here in the US, consumers are actively seeking out global foods,4 especially when dining away from home. Among the most common ethnic dishes are Italian, Mexican and Chinese with Ethiopian, Brazilian, Argentinian and Korean cuisines becoming more popular.5 Meanwhile, African flavors and ingredients are increasingly popping up on menus across the country.4 Don’t be afraid to get creative as more Americans express their desire for exotic flavors from around the globe.
3. Expanded Dayparts
While breakfast was once referred to as the most important meal of the day, in recent years, it has become the most popular meal of the day. Menu expansion beyond traditional dayparts is a major strategy that can help boost your customer’s business. With 72% of adults wanting restaurants to serve breakfast all day, there’s a major opportunity to increase traffic and help drive profits by simply expanding the breakfast daypart.6 While 63% of all restaurants now serve breakfast, 31% of restaurants have started offering breakfast items for dinner.6
4. Seasonal LTOs
Seasonal LTOs offer a great opportunity to attract customers. There’s a certain appeal to menu items that are available for a limited time—diners won’t want to miss their chance to try them. Operations with seasonal menus see around 26% more orders and a 23% increase in check averages over those who don’t modify their menus7 —it only makes sense to take advantage of the strong interest in fall-themed offerings. Rather than creating an entirely new menu for fall—which can be costly and time consuming—simply incorporating fall ingredients like apples, pumpkin, winter squash and Brussels sprouts can add a seasonal flair to your menu.
5. Detailed Descriptions
Poor menu descriptions can cause your consumers and servers’ unnecessary frustration, not to mention, potential missed sales opportunities. Longer, more detailed menu descriptions have been shown to sell more food.8 In fact, longer descriptions have been shown to sell nearly 30 percent more, according to a Cornell study. “The more copy you use for a menu item, the less it costs in a customer’s mind because you’re giving them more for their money,” according to menu engineer Gregg Rapp.8 For example, plain old “roast chicken” could be transformed to “slow roasted organic, free-range chicken.” Customers even rated food as better tasting when the items had longer, more detailed descriptions.7
1 Franchise Times, “How Restaurants Can Beat Competition,” August 2015
2 Technomic, “Consumer & Restaurant Menu Trends: The Clean Label Influence,” March 2017
3 Technomic, “Understand the impact of natural and organic labels in the foodservice industry,” 12/14/16
4 National Restaurant Association, “What’s Hot: Top 10 Food Trends for 2017,” 12/8/16
5 National Restaurant Association, “Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America,” 2015
6 Food News Media, “4 Hot Breakfast Trends for 2017,” 5/9/17
7 GrubHub, “3 Ways to Incorporate Seasonal Items into Your Menu,” 12/3/15
8 Mental Floss, “8 Psychological Tricks of Restaurant Menus,” 3/30/16