How to Decide on a Menu Style and Design
Posted by at January 27th

Deciding on a menu style and design is like deciding on your business card design. It will give customers a sense of what to expect when they try your food. It is a critical decision to make and requires some thought. Custom menu covers offer one way to make your menu stand out.

The Style
First, to find the style of menu for your restaurant, answer these three questions:

  • What kind of restaurant are you running? A fine dining establishment’s menu will be very different from a family style restaurant.
  • What meals are you serving? If you are a dinner only restaurant, then your menu choice will differ from a restaurant that serves three meals.
  • How extensive is your menu choices? Some restaurants offer different menu options each night depending on what is available seasonally and at the market. Others emphasize fixed items with a few specials.

Based on the answers to those three questions, you can determine what style of menu will work for your restaurant. Here are some common format choices:

  • Single page – This style is great for a limited selection or one that changes frequently.
  • Two-panel, one-fold – This format is actually the most common. It offers room for fixed menu items as well as daily specials.
  • Three panel, two-fold – When combining a lunch and dinner menu, this format allows room for grouping appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
  • Book style, multiple pages – For a family restaurant with an extensive menu, this format offers the most flexibility for the maximum number of menu items.
  • Multiple menus of any style – Many restaurants that offer more than one meal choose to use multiple menus. Some menu examples include breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizer, drink, children’s, and seniors’.

Try to keep the size of your menu reasonable for the size of table you offer your diners. An over-sized menu may offer more space to showcase menu selections, but if it is too large, it can become a hazard to drinks or to candles on the table.

The Design
Design is the next step of putting your restaurant’s menu together. Good menu design is actually a science. It involves understanding the way customers look through a menu, what will catch their eye, and how to influence their choices. Customers are not going to look through a crowded, multi-page menu with items printed in the smallest fonts. They will usually spend less than two minutes looking through a menu, no matter the size or the shape.

Your menu should reflect your restaurant’s colors and design. Custom menu covers are a way to bring this design element into focus. If your restaurant has a distinct logo, it should be part of your cover design. The design inside the menu should also echo the design of custom menu covers. Use similar fonts and elements to create a comprehensive menu design that helps brand your look from the front door to the dessert spoons.

For example, if your restaurant has a modern, minimalist approach, your menu design should have a minimalist cover design. The inside should continue the minimalist look with a clean layout and very limited graphics. On the other hand, if your restaurant focuses on Southern-style home cooking, the menu design should provide a home-made feel throughout.

Taking the time to create a menu that reflects your restaurant, its style, and your culinary focus is a smart move. Give your customers a taste of what’s to come with their meal.