Less is More: A Case for Fewer Menu Items

While it may be tempting to offer your customers a large selection of menu items, it is actually far more profitable for your business to limit your menu. Read on for insight into why less is more when it comes to menus.

Why Fewer Menu Items is Better for Your Restaurant Business

Fewer Items, Fresher Food

By reducing the number of items on your menu, you can focus on sourcing fewer ingredients. This guarantees fresher items for your customers, especially if you focus on getting in-season, local ingredients to guide your menu items. Consider reducing your menu to a small stable of easily sourced items, then allow for a number of rotating items informed by whatever is available in your area during that season. This will give your menu the benefit of appearing current, while still offering customer favourites to inspire loyalty and repeat visits.

Rethink Specials

One way to reduce the number of menu items while still offering your customers variety is to begin using daily or weekly specials. Look critically at the menu items that are ordered most frequently. These are the dishes that should make up your regular menu because they have been proven to be successful. Frequent orders means less waste and less loss of profit. Once you’ve narrowed down your menu to the sure-fire winners, take a look at some of the higher-priced menu items. Consider offering these more expensive, exotic items on an occasional basis. This allows you to order a very small quantity of a more expensive ingredient, like lobster, and simply list it as a special until you sell every portion. Train your service staff to highlight the scarcity of these special menu items, which should increase their value in the customer’s eye and lead to higher sales and swifter movement of your inventory.

Consider the Price

As you work to limit the number of items available on your menu, take a hard look at your menu pricing. Are you charging a reasonable price for the items presented? Pricing too low means you may risk your own profits at the sake of high turnover. Pricing too high means alienating potential repeat customers. Strive to offer a range of dishes on your menu to allow customers the chance to splurge or eat within their budget. A good time to reassess your pricing is after a full menu overhaul, including a redesign of the physical menus. This way your repeat customers will see that you are working to improve your service and inventory, not just raise prices.

Portion Variety

One way to add variety to a small menu and cut costs is to offer variety in the portion size of your dishes. Many restaurants offer small and large versions of each dish, which allows customers to pay for only what they know they’ll be able to consume. This can help you better manage your portion control in the kitchen by giving you an opportunity to think about what you’re offering on the plate per dollar spent. Portion variety is a great way to have a menu with several different choices without going overboard on a huge inventory. You can even offer combinations with several small portions of a few dishes for customers looking to sample new dishes, while still offering traditional sizes for repeat customers craving their favorite meals.

What are your thoughts on fewer menu items? Leave a comment below.

For more info on Ideal Software’s Inventory Management system for controlling food cost IdealStockControl

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