Start a Restaurant – Menu Planning


Most people don’t realize how much work and thought goes into planning a menu for a new restaurant or refreshing an existing menu. There is so much more to consider that the individual recipes and preparation of the dishes. You also have to think about the type of restaurant you plan to establish and the clientele that you are hoping to attract.

You’ve probably already decided what type of cuisine you would like to offer. Now you must choose whether you want to have a rotating core of specialty dishes or if you want the menu to provide consistency. Varying your menu means you will attract more adventurous diners while providing quite a few of the same dishes on a consistent basis will keep the same customers coming back for their favorites.


Pricing can be a big factor in the type of clientele that you attract and also on repeat customers. One of the best and most enjoyable ways to make pricing decisions before you open up your restaurant is to do some market research by visiting your competitors. Inspect their menu, sample their food, and see what works for them and you may learn more than you expect.

You can examine their prices and see what kind of value or quality the offer customers for the price. The dinnerware, flatware, and waiting staff are all things you can research while you are comparing menus.

There are a few formulas for pricing menu items that will help you determine what to charge. With the factoring method, one of the more common approaches, you figure out how much the dish costs to make and then triple that figure to allow for wages and other overhead.


Or you may want to use the ‘Prime Cost Method’ whereby you add the cost of labor and food and add a percentage to allow for a profit. If labor and raw ingredients cost $6 you can add fifty percent for profit and charge $9. Your prices will depend on what type of pricing your level of clientele can comfortably handle. Restaurants that cater to upscale clientele can charge more while family and casual dining establishments must keep their prices geared lower.


You may want to make your grandmothers spaghetti a feature of your menu but this may not be practical? Did she use special ingredients or cook the sauce for hours? These type of considerations must go into the pricing and be considered when determining what dishes you’ll include in your menu.


You need to make the menu both attractive and functional. If you plan to have a dimly lit dining area you should have the print a bit bigger on your menu so people can see what they are ordering. Will you have a special of the day that you’ll need an insert for or a special dessert menu? These considerations can affect printing costs.


The important thing when planning a menu is to have enough variety to be interesting but not so many choices that the diners are bewildered. Laying it out in sections is very convenient for the customer and has been shown to be a favorite format of most diners.


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