Creating a menu for some can be a nerve raking experience. You are putting your skills and knowledge of food out there for everyone to see and taste. A menu can be a make or break of the establishment and the menus creator. No pressure!
So how do you work out the ideal menu? When I create menus, I take into account a number of factors:
1. The demographics of the area.
2. Past menu records - this will give you an idea of what has worked previously. This doesn't mean that the exact dish needs to be used, but with a little bit of imagination, a new spin can be put on it.
3. Team involvement- this is a great way to get everyone's input and for the entire kitchen team to take ownership of the menu. This will also help in generating some enthusiasm in the kitchen during service time as the team see their ideas come to light.
4. Customer feedback - plan the menu by putting each idea to the test. Get your front of house public relations team (wait staff) to get feedback or suggestions.
5. Don't introduce too many things all at once. Remember some of your customers come back time and again for that 'menu favourite'!
6. Profiling- and I'm not talking CSI!
You have seen it on CSI where a profile is done in the process of solving a crime. Why not do one when you are starting your research in open an eatery?
Definition - A market profile is a set of attributes relating to a target population, and in business, a target group of buyers. These characteristics typically include demographic factors such as income, region, values, age, countries of origin and life styles.
The information you get from profiling will give you a clear picture of the type of customer in your area. It is too risky just to open up anywhere, and you have heard me refer before to the assumption of 'build it, and they will come'. Once a clear picture is created of the area you wish to do business in, a plan can be put in place of the type of establishment which will fit in the area.
The more you know, the better the outcome could be. I have seen businesses set up next to other venues just to do the same thing. With no real plan and no imagination, they assume that their scones with be the best in the street. Really?
What you can get from profiling is the type of menu which would suit, the price range you could set your menus and the atmosphere you need to create. For example, if the local population was predominately Indian heritage, would you do Sushi? Maybe? But only if you were the only one doing it?
The setup investment you will outlay when starting a new place is significant, and it is worth spending just a little more and seeking advice. Remember to do the homework instead of waking up to surprises and trying to make the changes on the run when it could just be too late.