The importance of Menu Design in Restaurant Off-Premise (Takeout, Delivery and Catering)

I’ve been thinking about menu design a lot lately:

I’ve been out there talking to restaurant operators and reviewing their programs, and it’s incredible to me, the complexity and confusion that leads to menu design – how we make things, how we package things, how we sell them.

So I want to take a minute to give a perspective on this.

In the business model of The 5 Pillars of Successful Restaurant Takeout, Delivery, and Catering,  we have the 8 strategic areas of investment – and there are 89 core characteristics.

One of these 5 Pillars is operations, and operations covers menus. Menus are directly connected to how we manufacture and fulfill our orders, how we package them, how we stage them and how we get them ready.

The business of off-premise specifically, in takeout and catering (for delivery and pickup) is different from in store operations. It’s good logic to go through a differentiation process for your menus.

When you look at your menus throughout your brand, you can see menu differentiation already happening:

You have your takeout menu – your takeout menu could hypothetically mirror your in-store menu, or you could have a different one.

You have your delivery menu – in the case of what’s happening with delivery (especially 3rd party delivery) the business model has to evolve so that there will be a specific set of products you will offer in that channel – for example your top 6 products that you know how to make a lot of, and that are popular. We will continue to see operators go down this path of differentiation for delivery.

When it comes to catering – menus are so much different (Catering operations is a different beast altogether, but more on that later). Catering menus are platter based, so if you have a sandwich in your in-store menu, it becomes a platter of sandwiches for catering. Those are two completely different things. You sell a platter for much more, you package them differently, the whole product can be different. It’s important to have this in mind when designing menus for catering. When executed properly, catering profits will rise dramatically.

Menu differentiation is a huge piece of this puzzle, and it’s absolutely critical to success. The design of your kitchens and your technology that connects to your kitchen all has to come together in terms of menus.

I believe the next major shift in the food service space is going to be channel differentiation, which is coming rapidly – and therefore the menu differentiation is going to get very exciting in the years ahead. There will be a lot of innovation coming through the food service supply chain and everyone else bringing more solutions to customers in the coming year. Mark my words!

This is just some of the conversation we will be having at The 2018 Restaurant Takeout, Delivery and Catering Symposium on June 19th in Denver. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there for what will be a full house.

We have a few seats left – you can grab your tickets here.

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