How to Design a Menu: A Guide for Restaurants


There are over a million restaurants in the United States, meaning customers have a lot of options. So how can you make them flock to your restaurant over your competitors?

Having a well-designed menu is arguably the most important way to hook customers and keep them coming back for more. After all, quality menu items are the backbone of a successful restaurant!

However, having great food is only the beginning. You also need to know how to design a menu that catches their attention and interests them enough to order. Here are our tips for making the most of your restaurant menu.

How Many Items Should You Have?

The problem with large menus is that restaurant owners encounter issues with food spoilage in the kitchen. There isn’t a magic number for the items you should have, but the general rule is to categorize menu items and include between three to seven in each category.

Why? People can only process a few pieces of information at a time, so categorizing the menu into groups and keeping those groups small makes it easier to read.

Create and Finalize a List of Items

Take the time to create a list of all the items you want on the menu. Split them into groups, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner or appetizers, entrees, and desserts. It helps to have a digital copy of this list, such as a spreadsheet.

You don’t need to have every item on the menu. For instance, if you have seasonal items, you can save them for a seasonal menu.

Designing a Menu

What is the most profitable item on your menu? Make sure you place it in a prominent location to encourage customers to order it.

It’s also a good idea to include add-ons to encourage customers to spend more. Add-ons can consist of side items such as small salads, fries, rice, and so on.

When coming up with menu ideas, make sure that the colors and fonts match the vibe of your restaurant. If you’re a cafe, you might opt for earthy tones such as browns, beiges, reds, muted orange, and gray.

You also need to consider where to place each item when designing a menu. Many customers look at the middle of a menu first, so this is a good place for your star items and specials. The top right and top left parts of the menu are also good places to list items you want to focus on selling.

The best menus keep descriptions short but appetizing. You don’t want to clutter the page with too much text, but you want to interest them.

Displaying Your Menu

Decide what types of menus you want in your establishment. There are paper menus, laminated menus, digital menus, menu boards, and more.

Did you know your can turn your restaurant’s TVs into menus? Digital signs through display high-quality visuals that entice your customers to order whatever items you promote.

The Basics Behind How to Design a Menu

Use these tips if you need to know how to design a menu, and it’ll be a breeze to put together a selection. If you’re struggling, you can also browse examples or use a template to guide you.

Running a restaurant takes a lot of work, but you can make it easier with our business tips. Read some of our other posts to learn more.