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Simplify Your Life: Reduce Your Restaurant Menu Items

Best End Of English Spring Lamb with Rosemary Roasted New PotatoIn these times of economic uncertainty, it is easy to get lost in trying to do many things all at once. A good example is restaurateurs trying to manage their inventories, their staff, their operations, their books, their sales, their marketing… do you know anybody like that? I thought so.  You need to simplify your life and focus on just a few basic core competences to make your restaurant the best it can be to stand out from your competitors.

So let’s start with your menu: do you have many menu items? If so, perhaps you should think about reducing the number of dishes that you offer.

Frequently restaurateurs think that having many choices is better for their customers, when the opposite is often true. The best restaurants in the world have limited selections with all around excellent offerings.

With large menu choices, the quality is often uneven since it is almost impossible to equally master all the dishes. It also becomes a nightmare to manage the inventory, probably your servers struggle to remember all the dishes (and components), and your customers get often confused with so many choices.

Perhaps you should take a hard look at your menu and reduce the items to just your basic signature dishes. Not only you will avoid that your clients order menu items that are less than exceptional, but fewer dishes mean that they will be easier to remember (making them; thus, memorable) the next time that your clients come over for lunch or dinner.

Having a short and exquisite menu allows your kitchen to focus on providing exceptional quality, reduces your inventory (and perhaps you can even get a volume discount since you will be ordering more of the same items), and makes it easier for your servers and your clients to remember.

There are other secondary advantages such as less programming in your computer or point of sale, better track of what items are selling the best, easier to create the paper menus (with larger font), etc., but the essential point is that your restaurant will be associated in your customer’s mind to a few exceptional dishes. And this is what you want.

If you agree with me, I would suggest that you meet with your Chef (or cook) and go over your menu, eliminating dishes that are less than great until you focus on a few appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts. Cut down everything else.

Believe me when I tell you that people, your customers, will love to go to your restaurant to eat just a few great dishes. The best restaurants in the wold are famous for one or two dishes that they cook to perfection. No need to reinvent the wheel and try to please everybody.

It is better to have faithful clients that come to your place continually looking for your signature dishes, than trying to please everybody by increasing the number of dishes that you offer, just to have everybody leaving your place with just an OK experience. The world is full of mediocre restaurants; you don’t want to belong to this category. You want to make yours exceptional.

This is the only way to stand out from your competitors.

Jose L. Riesco is a restaurant marketing and consulting expert who has just published a book: Restaurant Marketing Strategies (available at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com).  His site www.myrestaurantmarketing.com, contains lots of free restaurant marketing information and ideas to help you improve your restaurant marketing.

About Jose Riesco

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  1. I definitely agree with this theory. Less items makes it easier to order and I would much rather choose from a smaller selection of very good dishes than a large selection of mediocre ones.

    • And when you account for how much easier it is to manage inventory in the kitchen, there’s reasons in both the Front of the House and the Back of the House to pare down your menu as much as possible.

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