How to Make Your Menu Design More Profitable


A lot of time and planning goes into getting customers to patronize a restaurant, but a smart restaurateur knows that restaurant marketing doesn’t stop after a customer walks through the door. Your menu is one of the most powerful tools you have to send customers the right message about your business as well as increase profits. Here are some tips on how to turn your menu from a simple list of food into a profit-driving machine.


Where you choose to list a meal is almost as important as the meal itself. For starters, you should organize your menu in neat, easy-to-read columns with a simple font. Next, consider the following when deciding how to organize your menu:

  • Customers are more likely to remember the first two and the last items on a list. Put your most profitable meals in these positions. (Source)
  • With a tri-fold menu, most people look at the top of the center page first and then continue on in a counter-clockwise direction.
  • When reading a bi-fold menu, most readers will look first to the top right page. Be sure to put the most profitable items where the reader’s eye goes first.
  • Showcase up to three high-profit items in a box, in order to draw attention. More than three highlighted items will overload the customer with the result that none of the items will attract attention.
  • Hide cheap, popular items in the bottom right-hand quadrant of the menu, where the customer will look last.
  • Remember: less is more. Too many options are overwhelming, so cut out the low-profit items to leave space for your customers to decide. Adding inserts are a great way to keep the menu from crowding while drawing attention to certain high-profit items. Learn more about how to price menu items


Most customers are conscious of spending money when they go out to eat, but you don’t want them to make their meal choices based on the price. Here are some ways to avoid price-based shopping:

  • Keep prices in the body of the description paragraph, not off in a column to the side.
  • Use the same typeface for the price as for the menu items, and remove the dollar sign to avoid drawing attention.
  • Do not spell out the price, as in “sixteen ninety-five.” Though it may seem counterintuitive, studies have shown customers spend more when the price is written with numerals.
  • Try putting a very expensive item on the menu that is similar to another item which is less expensive but highly profitable. This will encourage customers to order the highly profitable item, and give the impression that they are making a smart choice. See the example below:
Menu AMenu B
  • House Wine 20.99
  • Organic Spanish Wine 30.99
  • House Wine 20.99
  • Organic Spanish Wine 30.99
  • Fancy Pants Wine 40.99

See the difference? Looking at Menu B, a customer is much more likely to order the organic Spanish wine.

Food Descriptions

The words on your menu should give customers an idea of what the food tastes like, and your high-profit items should be described in such a way that a customer can’t resist. See below for more tips on food descriptions.

  • According to Gregg Rapp, the original menu engineer, mouthwatering descriptions can increase sales up to 30%. (Source) Download our list of words that have been proven effective in whetting customers’ appetites.
  • While you do want to whet the appetite, keep descriptions short enough for an easily scanned menu.
  • If you use specialty items, such as local butter lettuce or organic arugula, be sure to mention this to ensure customers understand the pricing rationale.
  • Descriptions of “baked,” “roasted,” or “pan-seared” items are more popular than “fried” items. However, if you are serving fried items, try using the phrase “hand-battered” to make them sound more appealing.
  • Generic headings such as “Entrées” are not as enticing as more descriptive headings such as “House Pasta Specialties.” Descriptive headings will also make the menu easier to scan for the customer.

Overall, your menu should fit your restaurant’s character. Use the suggestions above to drive profits, but don’t sacrifice your concept or customers will be left feeling confused. Keep these tenets in mind and let them work for you!


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Sara Henderson

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