How to Design a Menu for a Restaurant

Learn how to design a restaurant menu from restaurateur Paul Bolles-Beaven in this Howcast video.

When I think about designing a menu -how it looks on the page, what the colors are, the size, the paper, the information – I think I need to go hire a designer. Because I know what I like when I look at it, but I have no idea how to come up with what would work. So, you may be someone who has a lot of design ability, and can at least begin the idea.

Or, you may be like me, and need to hire a designer to help you create exactly the right menu for your restaurant, for your concept. Some things to consider: size. You don’t want the menu to be so big, and so designed, that it’s a pain in the neck. You don’t want it to become the additional guest at the table. You don’t want it to be something that blocks my ability to see my friends across the table. And, on the other hand, you don’t want it to be so small that people who are of a certain age can’t read the type. So, it has to be the right size.

It has to be able to hold all the information you want it to hold in a legible and comfortable way. Then, there are a lot of branding decisions. Will you have your logo on this menu? What colors will be used on the menu? What kind of physical format will it have? Will it be paper? A certain texture of paper, or color of paper? Will it be in a very deluxe leather folder? What will the physical menu feel like to hold, and what impression will it create as the guest uses it? You also need to think about layout of the menu. Will there be appetizers, entrees, snacks, sides, salads, pastas? What sections of information will there be? Will you want to put cocktails on the food menu?

Will you want to put desserts on the food menu, or have a separate menu for dessert? So, what sections does your menu need to have? And also, remembering that your menu is a very powerful tool for marketing your restaurant. What information should be on it? Should the address, phone number, website be on the menu, so that when someone prints it online, they have all that information with them? In menu design, it’s important to remember that your menu is your principle sales tool. It’s what the guests use to choose what they’re going to buy, so where their eye goes and what their eye sees is vitally important.

It’s also really important to remember that you want the lyrics, or the words that are used to describe your menu items, to be appealing and just the right amount of information. You don’t want so much information that their eyes glaze over as they’re reading it. You don’t want so little information that they have no confidence that they know what they’re ordering. So, writing the menu words, which a designer probably can’t help you with, needs to be something you think about a great deal. What is going to make people both want to order the item, but also give them real confidence that they’re going to get what they thought they were ordering?