How to Create a Menu for Your Restaurant

knife fork and menu image by Warren Millar from

Creating a menu is an important part of owning and running a restaurant. A menu tells customers what choices a restaurant offers, what kind of atmosphere the restaurant gives off and how expensive the items are. Without a well-organized and thought-out menu, customers will struggle to choose between dishes and may be unimpressed with the restaurant. Creating a sophisticated menu for your restaurant will attract more customers and keep them coming back.

Research your competitor's menus and write down the differences and similarities between their menus and what you envision. Take note of pricing for items similar to those you offer and variety of dishes in their menus.

Design your menu. Your menu design must reflect the atmosphere of your restaurant. An elegant restaurant should not have a menu featuring giant pictures and a rainbow of colors. Simplicity often works best for upscale restaurants, while colorful and engaging pictures and words can can work well for a fun and hip restaurant. Initial menu design can be started on paper, outlining where sections, pictures and descriptions will be placed. Take the outline to a graphic design company to assist in adding color and filling out the outline and to laminate your menu.

Arrange items in a logical order. Customers typically like to see the traditional menu order of appetizers, soups and salads, entrees, deserts and drink options. Include signature items for each category at the top of the related section and make it stand out by using a different font or color.

Place your best-selling items where customers' eyes fall first. Placing items that sell well at the top of the menu, for example, will help them sell even better because customers often look at the top of the menu first and stop browsing once they find something they want to order.

Give your menu originality. Create special names for your dishes, and arrange your menu into columns or boxes that separate each section or item.

Price your menu prices accordingly. Do not charge too much or too little for everyday items that your competitors offer as well. Stay within a $1 of your competitors' prices. Price signature and specialty items higher, but not so high that they are completely out of line with other items on your menu.


  • Find a graphic design company that specializes in menu design. It has experience in what works on menus and what doesn't and will assist you with the font, color, general layout and pictures of your menu.

    Update your menu every six to 12 months. Look at what is working on your menu and what's not, and make the necessary changes.


About the Author

Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.

Photo Credits

  • knife fork and menu image by Warren Millar from