New Menu Item: Good Idea or Total Waste?

With limited space to convey the details of your restaurant’s menu, you have to be picky about what makes it to print. Upserve’s restaurant menu analytics can tell you whether a given dish is bolstering your bottom line or if it’s a drag on resources. Furthermore, you can use our restaurant menu software to determine which 80 percent of your restaurant’s food sales are coming from which 16 percent of menu items. Think: seven options per category (and don’t go too crazy with categories).

“We know if a product is a one time- it’s a one hit wonder, or is it a product that people order again and again over time, which helps us pick our menu items. It gives us data that we otherwise wouldn’t have.”
Ron KollerOwner, The Malted Barley

How Does Menu Design Affect Sales?

Through a study that analyzed millions of transactions from restaurants around the country, ranging from quick service to full service (and a whole lot of extra research on top of that!), we learned a lot about what works—and what works against you—when it comes to menu design.

Here are some of the most intriguing insights:

  • One photo next to a menu item increases sales by 30%. To avoid going overboard, try adding one menu item photo per page of your menu.
  • The Center for Hospitality Research found that people spend significantly more at restaurants where menus do not include dollar signs. So instead of charging “$15.00” for that pasta, you’re better off listing it as “15.00”, or even just “15”. Best yet, don’t draw any attention to price—“nest” the price discreetly after each menu item’s description.
  • Use the concept of anchoring to invoke comparison with your most expensive menu items at the top of the list. Subsequent menu items will look like a great value in comparison, helping you to sell more of them.
  • Speaking of which, use detailed descriptions to improve the perception of value. Capture attention with a little textual food porn. Evocative, suggestive dish names can increase sales by as much as 25%. And people seem to appreciate a description broaching on novel status: Longer menu descriptions sell 30% more food.
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