How to Name Your Restaurant
The name of your restaurant is probably the first impression new customers will have of your establishment and your brand. Customers may not judge you on the quality of your kitchen equipment, but they will judge your name. Because of this, it’s important that you choose a memorable, catchy restaurant name. To help you make this difficult decision, we’ve compiled a list of nine things to think about when coming up with cool restaurant names.
1. Incorporate Puns in Your Restaurant Name
It’s been said puns are the lowest form of humor. While this is up for debate, it’s clear that punny restaurant names are quite popular. Using puns in your restaurant name gives potential customers the impression of intelligence and humor. Who doesn’t want to be thought of as smart and funny? Puns attract attention and are easy to remember. Check out some restaurants that successfully incorporated puns into their name:
- Burgatory - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Thai-Namite - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Unphogettable - Mesa, Arizona
- Vincent Van Doughnut - Clayton, Missouri
- Baguettaboutit - Raleigh, North Carolina
2. Use Unique Spelling or Symbols in Your Restaurant Name
For modern, trendy bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, using abbreviations and symbols may be a way to set you apart from the competition. Alternative spellings are visually intriguing to potential customers and also help with branding your establishment. Here are a few restaurants that used symbols to come up with a unique restaurant name:
- &pizza - Washington D.C.
- CVI.CHE 105 - Miami, Florida
- rise n°1 - Dallas, Texas
- n/naka - Los Angeles, California
- a(MUSE.) - Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
3. Use Alliteration and Rhymes
Using repetitive sounds or rhymes is a great way to add a fun, lighthearted element to your business. For instance, Red Robin and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are both national chains with repetitive sounds in the names. This makes the restaurant name catchier and more fun to say, encouraging people to talk about it. Check out these alliteration restaurant names:
- Secret Sandwich Society - Richmond, Virginia
- Cork & Fork - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Peter's Pour House - Baltimore, Maryland
- Salty Sow - Austin, Texas
- Cork & Cap - Lancaster, Pennsylvania
4. Try a One Word Restaurant Name
While you may want a clever restaurant name, you don’t want to overdo it. If you make your name too complicated and guests can’t remember it, you may lose out on free word-of-mouth advertising. Many restaurants choose one word restaurant names because they come across as very modern, in addition to being easy to remember. These restaurants chose a single word to represent their business and brand:
- Diner - Omaha, Nebraska
- Curate - Asheville, North Carolina
- Crust - Miami, Florida
- Launderette - Austin, Texas
- Gravy - Portland, Oregon
5. Use Location-Based Restaurant Names
By basing your restaurant name on your address, you make it easy for your customers to remember where you are so they can return or tell their friends to visit. This could be your entire address or just a portion, like your street name, number, or neighborhood. The following restaurants use locations in their name:
- On Orange - Lancaster, Pennsylvania
- Cheryl's on 12th - Portland, Oregon
- Off Vine - Los Angeles, California
- Famous 4th Street Delicatessen - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Nick's on Broadway - Providence, Rhode Island
6. Make Your Name a Reference to a Book or Movie
By making your restaurant name a reference to something, you can start a conversation between you and your customers. A reference to a book, song, TV show, or movie can draw in fans of the original source material as well as people who are curious due to the interesting name. Check out these restaurants that reference classic literature in their names:
- Annabel Lee Tavern - Baltimore, Maryland
- Butcher and the Rye - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- The Hobbit Restaurant- Ocean City, Maryland
- Alice’s Tea Cup - New York, New York
- Tequila Mockingbird - Ocean City, Maryland
7. Use a Different Language in Your Restaurant Name
If you're all out of ideas in the English language, why not try a different language? Using another language is an easy way to let your customers know what type of cuisine you offer. For instance, consider a Spanish name if you specialize in tapas or a French name if you serve crepes. Or simply choose a word or phrase that has meaning for you. Here are some examples:
- Novare Res Bier Cafe - Portland, Maine
- Aromas del Peru - Miami, Florida
- Olio e Piu - New York, New York
- Petit Trois - Los Angeles, California
- Estadio - Washington D.C.
8. Ensure Your Restaurant Name is Marketable
Avoid using stereotypical or inappropriate language in your your restaurant name. By choosing a name that potential customers may find rude, you are limiting how well and how far you can market yourself. Also consider the length of your restaurant name and how it will translate to marketing materials.
If you restaurant name is too long, it won't work as the URL of your company website. While it’s not the first thing people think about when starting a business, your marketing strategy should be kept in mind when picking your name.
9. Use an Original Restaurant Name
Make sure your restaurant name isn't trademarked or already in use before you start printing off menus and hanging signs. The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) is a great place to start checking if your restaurant's name, or a similar name, is federally trademarked. To register your business's name in your area, you'll need to contact the correct agency for your state, usually the Secretary of State, and fill out the necessary forms. You can also check with the Secretary of State's office to find out how to search for state trademarks and see if all or part of your restaurant's name is already registered.
Coming up with a catchy restaurant name for your new establishment can be a daunting task. Your name can draw in passersby or drive away potential customers. You want your restaurant name to reflect the tone of your restaurant as well as your own personal preferences. Of course, the final decision is up to you, and while customers might be initially intrigued by the name, they’ll stay for your delicious food and great service.
How to Open a Restaurant
Opening a restaurant is the dream of many aspiring entrepreneurs. When managed correctly, they can be profitable and fulfilling ventures, allowing you to connect with your community and enjoy financial success. Whether embracing a traditional restaurant experience or experimenting with new food trends, there are countless ways to make your dream a reality. Nevertheless, starting a restaurant requires careful planning and thoughtful execution. We've created a step-by-step guide walking you through the restaurant startup process so that you can position your new business for success. Click any of the tips below to skip to the restaurant startup tip that interests you: Choose a Restaurant Concept Write a Restaurant Business Plan Obtain Restaurant Funding Create a Menu Find a Commercial Space Plan Your Restaurant's Layout Acquire Restaurant Permits and Licenses Acquire Restaurant Equipment Hire a Restaurant Staff Advertise Your Restaurant Host a Soft Opening 1. Choose a Restaurant Concept A restaurant concept is the central idea or theme that defines your restaurant. It serves as the foundation for what your business will be and should be reflected in every aspect of your restaurant, from the decor to the menu to the overall ambiance. A clear concept allows you to develop your restaurant’s brand and identity, create a unique selling proposition, and differentiate yourself from competitors. Your restaurant name, logo, menu design, and merchandise must reflect your concept and present a cohesive image. When customers see your logo or visit your website, they should immediately understand what your restaurant is all about. Additionally, your concept should align with the preferences and expectations of your target demographic. Common restaurant concepts include the following: Quick service restaurants Casual restaurants Fast casual restaurants Fine dining Contemporary restaurants Pop-up restaurants 2. Write a Restaurant Business Plan Restaurant business plans provide a thoroughly structured outline for how you'll start your business. They guide you through the startup process and serve as a valuable tool for presenting to investors, allowing you to flesh out the finer details of your business and prove that you have a viable concept. Restaurant business plans are divided into sections describing different aspects of your business. We've provided a breakdown of each section below: Executive summary: Provide a general overview of your business plan. Although it is the first section that appears, it's helpful to write it last. Company overview: Write a detailed company description and overview, highlighting specific strengths and strategies. Concept and menu: Describe your restaurant concept in detail and provide a sample menu. Management and ownership structure: Include details on what type of ownership structure you'll have and how you'll organize your management team. Staffing needs: Outline staffing expectations and costs. Be realistic about your needs and provide details on any specialized positions you may need to fill. Market and competitor analysis: Research where your restaurant will be, provide breakdowns of your target demographic, and assess competitors in your area. Advertising and marketing strategies: Describe which restaurant advertising strategies you'll use, both short-term and long-term. Financial projections: Provide detailed information on your current financials, how much money you'll need to start your restaurant, and how you plan to get it. Include sales forecasts and break-even analysis, as well as pricing projections. 3. Obtain Restaurant Funding One of the biggest hurdles prospective restaurant owners face when opening a restaurant is obtaining funding. Most individuals do not have enough cash to cover the cost of opening a restaurant without financial assistance, and securing funding from outside sources will determine if you can make your business plans a reality. Estimate the total startup costs of your restaurant to determine how much you'll need, including license and permit fees, equipment costs, building renovations, and staff salaries in your projection. Before you seek funding, it's important to understand the options available to you: Commercial loan: Traditional commercial loans are acquired directly through a bank and are typically associated with lower interest rates and access to higher amounts of capital. However, collateral is required, and you must have a high credit score to qualify. Business line of credit: These function similarly to a credit card, allowing business owners to get approved for a maximum credit amount each month. Business lines of credit are ideal for smaller restaurant expenses, and interest only accumulates as you use the money. Small business loan: The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) allows businesses to apply for small business loans, helping entrepreneurs finance their restaurants in the short term. You can receive a small business loan even with borderline credit, and the SBA guidelines are set up to protect both the lender and small business owners. Collateral is required, and it may take some time to get approved. Independent investors: Independent investors or companies may want to help fund your restaurant. In many cases, these investors will provide a large sum of money in exchange for a percentage ownership stake. Crowdfunding: Sites like Kickstarter, FoodStart, Indigogo, and GoFundMe are great platforms to raise money, allowing individuals to donate money and contribute towards your startup costs. 4. Create a Menu A menu is the highlight of a restaurant and the main factor influencing a customer's dining experience. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully curate a menu that matches your restaurant concept and reflects the experience you want to give your guests. Creating a menu goes beyond just listing the dishes you plan to serve. Your menu also dictates what kind of equipment you'll need, what kinds of skills to look for in staff, and the type of customers you'll attract. As you craft your menu, there are several factors to take into account: Menu layout: Organize your menu in a logical and easy-to-read format, considering factors like flow and visual hierarchy. Group similar items together, use clear headings and subheadings, and employ legible font styles and sizes. Menu pricing: Conduct a thorough analysis of your costs, including ingredient expenses, labor costs, and overheads, to arrive at a suitable pricing structure. Profit margins: By carefully monitoring costs and pricing, you can ensure that your menu items generate sufficient profit to cover expenses and promote business growth. Analyze your profit margin by calculating its food cost percentage and comparing it to industry benchmarks. Food storage: Consider the storage requirements of each item and the availability of necessary storage space to optimize kitchen workflow and minimize waste. Certain menu items may require specific temperature-controlled storage, while others may need to be stored separately to prevent cross-contamination. Sales projections: Understanding the demand for different items and predicting customer preferences can help maximize inventory management. Analyze historical sales data, conduct market research, and consider factors like seasonality, local trends, and customer feedback to develop a menu that aligns with projected sales. 5. Find a Commercial Space Whether building a new facility or leasing an existing one, the type of space you operate out of and its location will play a significant role in your success. Conducting a thorough location analysis will help you identify locations and markets that fit your restaurant's needs. Consider these variables as you choose a commercial space: Restaurant visibility and accessibility: You want your restaurant to be easily visible to potential customers and accessible to both foot and vehicle traffic. Additionally, consider the ease of parking for your customers, as this can impact convenience. Customer demographics: Take time to research the demographics of the area you're considering. Understanding the age, income level, and preferences of potential customers will help determine if your restaurant's concept aligns with the target market. Restaurant labor costs: Different areas have different wage rates and labor laws, which can affect labor costs. Competitors: Look into restaurants in the area and evaluate their concept, menu, pricing, and popularity. Consider if there is a gap in the market or if the area is saturated with similar concepts. While competition can be healthy, too much can make it difficult for your restaurant to thrive. Local regulations: Each city or county has laws that dictate what types of businesses can operate in certain areas. Familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure that your restaurant is compliant and safe from the threat of future legal issues. 6. Plan Your Restaurant's Layout From the moment they walk through the door to the time they leave, your establishment's layout can have a profound impact on a customer's dining experience. A well-designed layout can enhance the flow of service, create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere, and even influence customer perception of food quality. When planning a restaurant layout, there are two primary areas to focus on: front-of-house and back-of-house. Front-Of-House Layout The front-of-house refers to the areas of the restaurant that are visible and accessible to customers, including the dining area, bar, lobby, and restrooms. A well-designed front-of-house layout creates a welcoming and efficient space that allows for smooth traffic flow, maximizes seating capacity, and provides a comfortable environment for your guests. To achieve this layout, keep the following factors in mind: Seating capacity: Ensure that your restaurant can accommodate the number of guests you expect to serve at any time based on the size of your dining area and the service you provide. Some restaurants prioritize maximizing the number of seats to increase revenue, while others focus on spacious seating arrangements for a more relaxed dining experience. Furniture: The furniture you select should be comfortable for your guests and fit the overall theme of your restaurant. Consider style, material, and durability to ensure it can withstand the demands of daily use in a commercial setting. Ambiance and decor: The ambiance and decor of your front-of-house area play a vital role in creating a pleasant and inviting atmosphere for your guests. Incorporating unique lighting, color schemes, artwork, and music can enhance the dining experience and create a cohesive atmosphere. Pay attention to details such as table settings, wall decorations, and even plants or greenery to add a touch of freshness and visual interest. Cleanability: In a restaurant setting, spills and messes are inevitable. Therefore, it's essential to choose materials and finishes that are easy to clean and maintain. Opt for furniture and flooring that are stain-resistant and durable, such as laminate or vinyl. Maneuverability: Your staff needs to move efficiently while serving guests and attending to their needs, and your layout should provide clear pathways for servers to navigate between tables and the kitchen area. Additionally, consider the placement of service stations, such as beverage or dessert stations, to minimize congestion. Back-Of-House Layout Back-of-house refers to areas not seen by customers, including the kitchen, storage areas, and employee workspaces. Your back-of-house layout is critical for ensuring smooth and efficient operation. Consider the different back-of-house tasks as you design your layout Warewashing: Allocate sufficient space for a warewashing area. This area should include a dishwashing machine, a sink for manual washing, ample space for dish racks, and shelving for clean dishes. Additionally, consider the flow of dirty and clean dishes to prevent cross-contamination. Dry and cold storage: Dry storage spaces should be clean, organized, and easily accessible for inventory management and stock rotation. Cold storage spaces, such as walk-in refrigerators and freezers, should be strategically placed to minimize the distance food needs to travel from storage to preparation areas. Food preparation: Designing an efficient food preparation area involves considering the flow of ingredients, equipment, and personnel. This area should include sufficient counter space, cutting boards, sinks, and storage for utensils and equipment. Placing preparation areas close to refrigeration and dry storage areas can help streamline workflow and reduce unnecessary movement. Cooking: This area should accommodate your restaurant's specific cooking equipment needs, such as ranges, ovens, grills, and fryers. Consider ventilation and fire safety requirements when planning the layout of the cooking area, as proper ventilation systems should be in place to remove heat, smoke, and cooking odors from the kitchen. Service: This area should facilitate quick and efficient plating, ensuring proper organization of prepared dishes. It should be equipped with counters, warming equipment, and storage for plates, utensils, and garnishes. 7. Acquire Restaurant Permits and Licenses Restaurant licenses and permits are required at the federal, state, and local levels, and it is crucial to consult with local authorities and legal counsel to ensure you have all the necessary permits. Though the specific permits and licenses you need can vary depending on where you operate, we've listed some of the most common below: Business license: A business license is obtained from the local government and states that you are legally allowed to operate a business. The application process involves providing basic information about your business, such as its name, location, and ownership details. Employer identification number: An employer identification number (EIN) is necessary to hire employees. This number is used for tax purposes and obtained from the IRS, and you can apply for one through the IRS website. Foodservice license: This license ensures that your establishment meets the health and safety regulations set by local authorities. The application process often involves submitting documentation such as a menu, floor plan, and proof of food handlers' certifications. Liquor license: If you plan to serve alcoholic beverages in your restaurant, you must obtain a liquor license. The application process varies by state but typically requires information on what alcohol you plan to serve, your restaurant's location, and any relevant background checks. Health permit: A health permit is necessary to demonstrate that your restaurant meets health and safety standards set by local health departments. It is obtained after a health inspection, which evaluates various aspects of your establishment, such as food handling practices, cleanliness, and equipment maintenance. 8. Acquire Restaurant Equipment Investing in the right equipment ensures that your kitchen operates efficiently and effectively. Though you may need to buy specialized equipment, there are certain types of equipment that every restaurant needs, such as refrigerators, ranges, ovens, fryers, grills, and worktables. When it comes to outfitting a kitchen, there are three options available for new restaurant owners: Purchase new equipment: New equipment provides the advantage of starting from scratch. Brand-new equipment is reliable and typically comes with warranties, ensuring that any unexpected issues or malfunctions are covered. However, new equipment can be costly, especially for startup ventures with tight budgets. Purchase used equipment: Used equipment can be budget-friendly while providing the necessary functionality for your kitchen. Many kitchen appliances can be found at significantly lower prices, making it an attractive option for entrepreneurs looking to save on initial costs. Lease equipment: By leasing equipment, you can avoid the hefty upfront costs of purchasing new equipment. While leasing, you'll pay a monthly fee over a set lease agreement, with the option to extend your agreement at the end. Leasing gives you the option to upgrade your equipment as technology advances or when your business needs change. 9. Hire a Restaurant Staff When opening a new restaurant, one of the most crucial aspects is building a strong team of employees. It is an opportunity to establish a positive work culture, ensuring smooth operation and excellent customer service. Put thought into your employee benefits, training, and incentives to create a positive working environment and maintain a work-life balance. By prioritizing these factors, you can improve employee retention rates and position your restaurant for long-term success. While filling out your staff, there are several key positions to focus on. To prepare for the interview process, see our guide on restaurant interview questions. Management team: General manager, kitchen manager, front-of-house manager Kitchen staff: Head chef, sous chefs, prep cooks, line cooks, dishwashers Front-of-house staff: Servers, hosts, food runners, bussers Bar staff: Bartenders, barbacks, cocktail servers 10. Advertise Your Restaurant One of the keys to opening a successful restaurant is getting the word out. Successful advertising should also build excitement about your brand, enticing customers to visit. We've listed common ways that new restaurants advertise their brand below: Build a website: Your restaurant website should be easy to navigate, and the design should represent your brand. Include basic information, including your address, phone number, hours, and menu. Though you can hire a professional to create your website, you can make one with user-friendly hosting platforms like Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress. List your restaurant online: Registering with Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Google My Business makes it easy for potential guests to find your restaurant information. Guests can also leave reviews after visiting, which increases your authority and appeal. Embrace social media: Maintaining a social media presence is essential for modern restaurants. Create Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts to share news, photos, and tidbits about your restaurant. TikTok has also gained popularity in recent years, proving to be an effective way of engaging with customers. Offer promotions to new guests: Offer a promotion for first-time guests. A free beverage, dessert, or discount on their first bill is an enticing way to attract customers. Host a grand opening: Create buzz around your new restaurant by hosting a grand opening. Special events like wine tastings, live music, or cooking classes are also a great way to attract attention. 11. Host a Soft Opening A soft opening is a practice run to help you prepare for the grand opening of your new restaurant. Invite a limited number of guests to attend, such as friends, family, or acquaintances of your staff. As you plan the event, consider the different types of soft opening strategies: Trial menu: Offer a sample menu with a limited number of options. It reduces stress on new staff and encourages customers to return for the full menu. Limited schedule: Consider operating under a limited schedule for the first few days you are open. Sneak peek event: Host a "sneak peek" happy hour with select menu items and signature drinks. Friends and family night: Invite friends and family to your soft opening for a fun, stress-free way to prepare for your grand opening. Neighboring homes and businesses night: Gain local fans and build community pride by offering a soft opening invite to neighboring homes and businesses. Back to Top Starting a restaurant can be a stressful and confusing process. As foodservice trends continue to diversify, space opens up for extraordinary new eateries to step in and take advantage of new consumer interests. Using the steps outlined above, you can lay a solid foundation and position your restaurant startup for success.
How to Make a Menu
In the restaurant industry, having a well-designed menu that is carefully laid out and planned is a must. Your menu is the main tool that drives sales to your business, and engineering your menu can help bring in more sales and boost your profits. Additionally, studies have shown that a well-designed menu can boost your profits by 10 to 15%. To help ensure that you create the best menu possible, we've created this comprehensive guide that breaks down the process and gives you some helpful restaurant menu ideas. Use the following links to learn how to make a menu: Lay Out the Menu Choose a Menu Design Write Up Your Menu Print and Display Your Menu How to Create a Menu Menu design can seem intimidating, but the process can be boiled down to a few simple steps: Finalize your list of menu items and place it in a spreadsheet. Split your list into sections, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, entrees, appetizers, desserts, etc. Design the layout of your menu. Consider how your customers are going to use your menu by studying menu engineering. Use a free menu maker or menu maker software to design your menu. Save your menu as a PDF and print it out. Make sure that you have enough menus for your customers. Place your menus in menu covers or on menu boards. Although these steps lay out the basic process of creating a menu, you should put a lot of thought and consideration into your menu's design. Below, we lay out some best practices for designing a menu to make them easy for your customers to use and to help facilitate sales. 1. Lay Out Your Menu When customers look at your menu, their eyes are drawn to specific places on it, so this is where you want to put your most popular menu items with the highest profit margins, like entrees and appetizers. The three spots on the menu that customers look at first are called the Golden Triangle by menu engineers and psychologists. Use “The Golden Triangle” The Golden Triangle is a term that menu engineers use to refer to the three areas on your menu that most customers tend to look at first. There are three points on the triangle: Middle. Most customers look at the middle of your menu first. This is a great location to put your specials or limited menu items. Top Right. The second place your eyes tend to go is the top right corner of the page. This is where many restaurateurs place their entrees or main course items. Top Left. From the top right corner, most customers tend to look at the top left corner. This is a common location for appetizers, which, combined with entrees, can boost your profits. You want to dedicate the highest rent areas of your menu to your most popular items and the dishes that have the highest profit margin. Once you've decided which sections you want to place in the Golden Triangle, you can figure out how to lay out the rest of your menu items. Create Menu Sections When creating the different sections that will go on your menu, you need to consider how many menu items you have and how they can be grouped up or divided. For example, can you split up your main course section into entrees and sandwiches? Or can you break it down further into beef, chicken, pork, and seafood sections? When it comes to creating sections, it's best to be as specific as possible, so your customers can easily find something that appeals to them. Here are a few other restaurant menu ideas you should consider when choosing your layout: Create a Separate Menu for Desserts Create a separate menu for your desserts. Studies have shown that if your desserts are on the main menu, customers are less likely to order an appetizer. Plus, if you have a separate menu, you can leave it on your tables for customers to browse throughout their meal, and give them time to think about which dessert option they want to try. Have a Specialized Beverage Menu Restaurants that have an extensive beverage selection, or special holiday menu, may also want to make a separate beverage menu so they don't take up too much space. You may want to include popular non-alcoholic beverages on your main menu, though, such as soft drinks, iced tea, or lemonade. Identify Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free Items If your establishment has a large selection of vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free options, it's a good idea to add dedicated sections for those items. Creating a new section makes it easy for customers with alternative diets to find menu items that they can eat. Draw Attention to Specials You can draw attention to specific menu items, such as limited-time-only specials or seasonal items, by placing a box or border around them. This helps your specials stand out from your other items and draws your customers' eyes to them. You can also place them in the center of your page to draw more attention to them. Reduce the Number of Pages The number of pages in your menu is going to depend most importantly on how many menu items you have. But, when it comes to menus, less is more. If your menu has too many pages, it can overwhelm your customers. The most common type of menu has two pages, and it provides you plenty of room to list your menu items without providing too much information to be overwhelming. If your restaurant design has a modern or contemporary aesthetic, rather than using multiple pages, you may opt for a larger page or a unique design. Back to Top 2. Choose a Menu Design It's important that you choose a style that reflects your business's concept and appeals to your customers. Here are some common styles that can give you some direction when you're trying to choose a style for your menu: Upscale: Upscale menus are typically short, with only a few items on the page. There are very few or no images on the page and there is usually a detailed and stylish font used. Child-Friendly: Menus at family-friendly restaurants typically have lots of pictures and bright colors that can capture the child's interest. You may also want to use a large font that is very easily readable and scannable. Modern: Menus at modern restaurants are broad, and the design will depend mostly on your business's theme. But, many modern establishments have menus that are sleek, with interesting designs, custom images, and stylish fonts. Nostalgic: Businesses that capitalize on nostalgia are becoming more popular as baby boomers are getting older and spending more time eating out than cooking for themselves. Their menus typically have a rustic and old-fashioned style, as well as multiple images on each page. Additionally, if you're expecting your establishment will have an older customer base, you may want to make your font larger, so it's easy to read. Back to Top 3. Write Up Your Menu There are many specific design elements that go into styling your menus, such as font, images, and colors, and they allow you to give your menu a personality and character. Similar to your menu's layout, your menu's design can help persuade customers to buy specific high-value items. Here are some tips on how to choose images, fonts, and colors for your menu, as well as how to write descriptions for your dishes. Describe Your Food Writing appetizing menu descriptions can persuade your customers to try something new, provide information for guests with food allergies or alternative diets, and help customers find a dish that appeals to them. Plus, if you use unique names for your dishes or you serve a lot of global foods, writing menu descriptions can help your customers understand what the dish will be. You should use your descriptions to not only list the ingredients in the dish, but to describe the taste and texture of the food as well. For example, instead of just listing all of the ingredients in a salad, use adjectives to make it sound more appetizing, like this: "Rachel's salad contains leafy arugula, crisp romaine lettuce, creamy goat cheese, and candied walnuts, all coated with a light and delicious strawberry vinaigrette." Use Images in Your Menu Adding images to your menu can help your customers know what to expect by giving them an idea of what your dishes look like. But, too many images on your menu have a negative connotation, because many customers associate lots of images on the menu with low-cost and low-quality restaurants. Here are a few helpful tips so you can get the most out of the images on your menu: You want to use the highest quality pictures available. If your images are grainy or out of focus, it's going to give your customers a bad impression of your establishment. Use around no more than two images on one page, unless you're a family-friendly establishment. Use images of your most popular or high-value items. Using those images will pique your customers' interest, making them more likely to order that dish. If you have multiple locations or you own a franchise, it may be worthwhile to pay a professional food photographer to take staged images of your food. If you're updating your menu, you can check Instagram and see if any customers have posted pictures of your food online that you can use. But if you're going to use images from Instagram or social media, be sure to contact the owner and ask for their permission first. Choose a Color Scheme The colors that you use on your menu say a lot about your restaurant and your brand, so you should choose them carefully. Additionally, the colors you choose can affect your guests' appetites. For example, bright colors like red, yellow, and orange can increase your customers' appetites, while colors like blue and purple can make your customers less hungry. When choosing a color scheme for your menu, you also want to make sure that your colors complement each other and that you have a consistent theme. Additionally, your color scheme should also match your business's brand. So, you wouldn't want to have an electric blue menu at your whiskey bar or a neutral brown menu at a child-friendly restaurant. Pick a Menu Font and Typography The font that you use is often overlooked when it comes to designing your menu, but a well-thought-out font can help you facilitate sales. Here are a few tips for choosing the best font for your menu: Make your menu items a larger font size than your prices. If your prices are too prominently displayed, customers will scan for the cheapest item instead of what appeals to them the most. You can use uppercase and bolded letters for your item names, but use lowercase and regular styling when describing the dish. Remove the dollar signs from your menu. The dollar sign has a negative connotation in customers' minds and it makes them less likely to make large purchases. If your main demographic is older or very young, you want to increase your font size so it's easy to read. Back to Top 4. Print and Display Your Menu Once you're finished designing your menu, you're ready to print and insert your menus into your menu covers. Menu Sizing Before you can print your menus, you need to decide what size your menus are going to be. When choosing a size for your menus, consider the layout you've chosen as well as the size of your font and the number of items on your menu. Here are some common sizes that restaurant owners use for their menus: Lunch Menu: 8.5"x11" Dinner Menu: 8.5"x11", 8.5"x14", or 11"x17" Drink or Dessert Menu: 4.25"x11", 4.25"x14", or 5.5"x8.5" You can also use table tents instead of traditional menus for displaying your dessert or drink options. Printing Your Menus You should print enough menus so every customer can browse at their own pace. Here is a helpful guide that shows you how many menus your restaurant should print: Menu Type Number Per Person / Table Number Per Restaurant Breakfast Menu 1 Per Person 75% of Your Seating Capacity Lunch Menu 1 Per Person 75% of Your Seating Capacity Dinner Menu 1 Per Person 75% of Your Seating Capacity Dessert Menu 1-2 Per Table 50% of Seating Capacity Wine List 1 Per Table 1-10 Menus Check Presenter 1 Per Table 1 for Each Table + 10% Back to Top Other Menu Design Tips By now, your menu should be nearly complete. Here are some final restaurant menu ideas that you should be sure to include on your menu: Create symbols for different types of items, such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or sugar-free items to help customers find items that meet their alternative diets. When you're finished with your menu, you will also want to scan it or create a digital version that you can put online. This is especially important if your business has a delivery or take-out service. When adding your menu online, you'll also want to create a mobile-friendly version for potential customers searching for your menu on their phones or tablets. How to Make a Menu Infographic This infographic breaks down the six steps you need to follow to make a menu. Your restaurant's menu says a lot about your business and your food. A plain and uninspired menu is unlikely to facilitate many sales, but a stylized and well-thought-out menu is more exciting for your guests and more likely to convert to sales. As a result, when designing a new menu for your restaurant or updating your existing menu with a new style, seasonal items, or this year's food trends, keep these restaurant menu ideas in mind.
How To Host A Restaurant Soft Opening
You’ve successfully purchased a location and transformed it into a brand new restaurant. The space is furnished, the kitchen is stocked, and the menu is written. What’s next? How do you get your restaurant in business? If you plan to open a new restaurant, consider hosting a series of soft openings, or soft launches, to give your staff and kitchen equipment a test run before officially opening your doors to the public. If the coronavirus has forced you to temporarily shut your doors, you can ease back into the business by hosting a soft opening when you're ready to reopen your restaurant. We explored some options and tips for a soft opening that can lead to a successful grand opening. Click below to learn more about each aspect of hosting a restaurant soft opening: Soft Opening Advantages and Disadvantages Soft Opening Invitations Soft Opening Menus How to Create a Neighborhood Presence How to Collect Feedback What Is a Soft Opening? A soft opening or soft launch is the opening of a business for a limited number of people at first to test its services and make improvements. While a grand opening occurs on the actual day your restaurant opens its doors to the public, a soft opening is a beta test that happens well before your restaurant officially opens. There are several advantages and some disadvantages to hosting a soft opening. Advantages of a Soft Opening A soft opening is not a requirement, but there are clear advantages of hosting one before fully opening your doors. Here are some of the major advantages: Get feedback: Collect comments directly from customers on the food, drinks, service, and overall atmosphere. Iron out logistics of your location: Focus on evaluating the seating capacity, the flow of the space, the point-of-sale system, and the kitchen equipment. Prepare the staff: Allow staff to practice menu knowledge and learn how to be a good server, creating consistency among staff members. Build anticipation: Get the word out about your new location by encouraging guests to tell their friends about their experience. Make adjustments: Implement the feedback and tweak things that could use improvement before opening. Disadvantages of a Soft Opening It is important to note that there are some disadvantages to hosting a soft opening: Creates urgency to open: A soft opening should be hosted with a grand opening date in mind. That date should not be too long after the soft launch or else the hype will die down, and your customers may forget or lose interest. Exposes ideas to competitors: A soft launch exposes your ideas to the world which may end up in the hands of a competitor. Delay your grand opening too long, and they may have a chance to implement those ideas before you open. Potential low-quality feedback: Hosting a friends and family restaurant soft opening may not provide you with the best feedback. Those closest to you may want to spare your feelings when it comes to criticisms, so encourage them to be open and honest with constructive feedback, or invite additional guests outside of your inner circle. Soft Opening Invitation The soft opening invitations you send out are an important part of enticing people to test out your restaurant. Depending on how many people you are inviting and your style, you can either email the invite for a more casual feel or send a physical invitation in the mail for something more upscale. Don’t forget to choose a memorable design to grab your guests’ attention. Regardless of how the invitation is sent, the expectations for the event should be listed. Here is a list of what to include on a soft launch invitation: Date Time Address Pricing: Free, Flat Rate, or Menu Pricing RSVP Method and Date Dress Code Timing and Capacity It may be difficult to gauge how many people you can handle for your soft opening. Some locations have all of their guests served during the same time slot. However, staggering the guests provides a realistic flow of service in your location. A common number of guests to invite in a night is usually 100 people, broken up into different time slots. For example, if your event begins at 6 p.m., you would invite 25 people to arrive at 6 p.m., 25 more to arrive at 6:30 p.m., and so on. With this concept, your staff also gets practice serving different stages of a meal at once. One aspect to decide upon is if you will be allowing walk-ins and how many extra people you can fit in your location at a given time. By inviting people beforehand while still allotting space for more, you can gauge how your restaurant handles both your reservation system and walk-in crowds. Building a Soft Opening Guest List You may be tempted to open your doors to the public right away for your soft launch. However, who you invite can have a strong impact on your success moving forward. Invite Familiar Faces Friends and family are much more forgiving in the event of rough patches during your soft opening. A crowd of familiar faces will give you constructive criticism, offering insight while being aware that this is, in fact, a test run. Just remind them to be honest, since friends and family are also more likely to try and spare your feelings. By inviting people you know, it's easier to follow up with them for critiques. This allows you to assess your strengths and weaknesses to make those final tweaks before opening to the public. Familiar faces are also more likely to provide you with free advertising and help build anticipation before you officially open. Contact Local Business Owners To introduce themselves to local business owners, many restaurant owners will host a soft opening event just for the surrounding businesses in their area. A soft opening is usually a restaurant’s first introduction to the local community, making it a great time to create a strong first impression with other local business owners. By hosting a meal or happy hour just for local businesses, you’re expressing an interest to contribute to the established community you have joined. In doing so, you might earn some bookings for upcoming events and meal slots. Forming professional relationships with other community businesses is vital to your success, so be sure to make a strong first impression. Reach Out to Community Leaders and Influencers Prominent local leaders and community influencers are great guests to invite to a restaurant soft opening. These individuals have lots of pull within a local community, meaning that they can generate positive word-of-mouth advertising. Community leaders and influencers often have followings of people that other community members don’t have. Positive reviews from these important individuals can raise your restaurant’s reputation and launch your business with a running head start. Just be prepared to pull out all the stops to impress these people, as their words have a lot of weight behind them and negative reviews from them can do more harm than good. How to Make a Soft Opening Menu Once you’ve decided that a soft opening is a good option for your establishment, the next step is to put together a menu for the occasion. There are a few factors to decide upon before you can host your soft opening. Each type of soft opening menu has pros and cons, so it's up to you to decide which type of soft opening menu best fits your establishment. 1. Full Menu Soft Opening For those restaurants that are close to their grand opening date, offering a full menu soft opening may be the perfect beta test before your actual launch. Offering your restaurant’s complete menu during a soft opening provides a comprehensive overview of the establishment, allowing you to get feedback on all of your dishes. A full menu soft opening will provide you with the most relevant and precise feedback, as the soft opening essentially simulates how your grand opening will go. Although serving your entire menu at a soft opening provides great feedback, there are some drawbacks to hosting such an intricate event. You need to be fully prepared to host a full menu soft opening, meaning that every aspect of your restaurant needs to be ready to launch. A soft opening with an all-encompassing menu also makes it difficult to pinpoint problem areas and mistakes, as you’re testing so many aspects at once. Full menu soft openings provide great feedback, but hosting one likely won’t be the smoothest process unless you’re completely ready for the challenge. 2. Spotlight Signature Dishes from the Menu To ensure that your restaurant stands out from Day 1, serve signature dishes during your soft opening that give guests something to talk about. If you have dishes that are specifically made to match your theme, your soft launch is the perfect time to showcase them. This is also a great time to release a beta menu. This means you only display a few dishes but let your customers know that more additions to the menu are coming, giving them a reason to return after your grand opening to try more food options. By test running your signature dishes, you have a chance to provide your customers with a memorable meal but also make minor adjustments before your doors are open. You can also host multiple soft opening events featuring different parts of the menu each time, which we will explore further. 3. Target a Time Span There is no exact formula on the timeline a soft opening should take, however, the general time frame ranges from 3 days up to two weeks. Your time span will help you determine how many events to have within that time and what to serve on which days. Two soft opening strategies are outlined below that may work for your establishment. Three-Day Strategy: This style is more of an intimate sneak peek and is usually done through personal invitation. Day 1: A cocktail hour featuring appetizers and beverages for friends, family, and local business owners Day 2: A breakfast and lunch meal for friends and family Day 3: A dinner meal for friends and family One to Two-Week Strategy: Think of this as a multi-course meal served over the span of several days. This requires a bit more advertising. Two nights of full menu service for just friends and family One night of full menu service for local business owners One day to launch a breakfast menu that is open to the public One day to feature Sunday brunch that is open to the public One day to serve a lunch menu that is open to the public One day to launch a dinner menu that is open to the public One night of Happy Hour that is open to the public 4. Pick a Pricing Strategy Restaurant menu pricing for a soft opening varies from case to case. Some restaurants offer completely free food, a discounted menu, or a meal selection limited to just a few full-priced options. If you plan on charging full price, be sure to include freebies as a ‘thank you’ for guests' input. This is a good way to have customers try a variety of menu items that they may not have selected to purchase with their meal. These selections can include an appetizer or dessert sampler platter, a drink flight, or your signature cocktail free of charge. If you do choose to provide a completely complimentary event, just be conscious of your budget so it doesn’t end up hurting you rather than helping. Back to Top Create a Neighborhood Presence with a Restaurant Soft Opening Integrating your business into the local neighborhood is an important part of establishing a loyal customer base. Creating a neighborhood presence before your grand opening date allows you to get a head start on forming connections with community members who may one day become your regular customers. Opening Events Turning your restaurant’s soft opening into a community event goes a long way in establishing roots in your local community. If possible, try incorporating entertainment like live music, photo booths, or games, turning your soft opening into a celebration. Guests will be more likely to come when there are other amenities present. Also, turning your soft opening into a community event may boost attendees’ enjoyment of the event and help establish important connections with local patrons. Showcase Your Business Before Opening By announcing your restaurant's presence before officially opening your doors to the public, you'll build anticipation leading up to your grand reveal. What better way to do so than with a live showcase of your menu during your soft opening? Consider operating your own grab-and-go stand that customers can swing by to extend your restaurant services prior to opening. If that option isn't available, seek out other local opportunities to grant a sneak peek at your food. Are there any local food shows or community events you could feature a stand at or cater to get your name known? These restaurant marketing tactics speak volumes more than any flyer or social media posting. Collect Feedback From Your Soft Opening Once you have finished preparing for your soft opening by selecting a menu, inviting your guests, and reaching out to your community, there is one critical step left: collect feedback. The feedback gathered from your guests during your soft launch is extremely valuable in order to make improvements before you open to the public. It is for that reason that your feedback should be gathered in writing. If just spoken to a server during the event, the details of the feedback may be forgotten. Instead, you can hand out a feedback form with the check at the end of the meal and even offer coupons for completed forms. Feedback from your soft opening can help make sure your grand opening is a success. Back to Top A soft opening may feel like an additional step delaying you from opening your doors, but it can be highly valuable to your restaurant’s success. It provides the opportunity to find areas of improvement and get in some much-needed practice before officially opening your establishment. When planning for your soft launch, be sure to select your menu and guest list wisely to make the most of the experience.