One area that needs your focused attention when you're starting out in the restaurant business is menu planning. Many new operators simply have no idea how to plan a restaurant menu that caters to what their target market is looking for, as well as being practical in terms of preparation.

In this article, we take a closer look at restaurant menu planning and ten points to keep in mind when starting to gather the necessary content.

Restaurant concept

First, you need to think about the concept of your restaurant and the type of clientele you hope to attract. These things will be affected by its location, the restaurant's facilities and the theme, among other factors. Your overall concept will affect the style, quality, and portion sizes of the cuisine you will include on your restaurant menus.

Different types of restaurant menus

Most restaurant menus are static as they are set for long periods of time and cannot be easily changed. The alternative is to offer a constantly changing menu. The latter is ideal for restaurants that use seasonal ingredients that fluctuate in price, such as seafood. 'Soup of the day' is another common variation of the menu that can change as often as daily. However, it makes it difficult if new menus need to be printed frequently. Frequently varying menu options include writing your menu on a whiteboard or printing special inserts with daily specials.

A la carte restaurant menus require customers to select menu items individually and everything is priced separately. On the other hand, Prix Fixe menus offer various courses included in a fixed meal for a fixed price. Then there is a buffet dinner that generally requires few menus, but descriptions of the dishes at the point where customers are served.

Menu size

One thing to remember when putting together a menu is to offer enough variety to give diners a large selection while still keeping it reasonably simple so they don't get overwhelmed. A simple menu will also likely reduce the number of errors while taking orders and give staff less headaches when remembering details about each dish. A menu with a smaller range of offerings will also make it easier for you to manage your inventory and reduce food waste.

Consult a chef

At the lower end of the restaurant spectrum, you can basically plan your restaurant menu and then hire kitchen staff who are capable of preparing the dishes you have in mind. However, if you are going to hire a chef, then you should consult with him or her about the style of cooking in which he or she specializes. Without a doubt, a chef will be able to offer valuable advice and suggestions on her menu, so it is worth consulting one if possible.

Testing and adjustments

Before continuing and including a dish on your menu, it is important to decide exactly how the dish will be prepared and presented. Not only does it have to satisfy your personal tastes, it must also satisfy the tastes of the general public. Before launching a new menu item, it is important to do some testing. Get some feedback from cooks or chefs and look for slight modifications that could be made to further enhance a dish.

Kitchen space and equipment

Your menu options may be limited by the size of the kitchen space you have available or by the equipment required to prepare certain menu items. Make an assessment of the equipment you have and the equipment you are prepared to buy while planning your menu.

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In this article, we take a closer look at restaurant menu planning and ten points to keep in mind when starting to gather the necessary content.