Module 20: Restaurant Operations Planning

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Menu Planning and Design

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Menu Planning

Everything starts with the menu. The menu dictates much about how your operation will be organized and managed, the extent to which it meets its goals, and even how the building itself - certainly the interior - should be designed and constructed.

It is the foundation upon which the layout and other design functions are based. The menu influences every basic operating activity in a food service organization

The menu is the plan used to achieve the organization’s profit objectives and to satisfy customers’ desires.

The main objective of Menu Planning is for the business to make a profit while catering to its customers needs, using all available ingredients, equipment, physical surroundings and skills of its employees at a reasonable cost.

Customer-related factors focus on customers needs, food pricing plans, the sequence in which food is presented and customer dietry requirements. These factors are explained here in detail.

Special Requests

Restaurants should also consider if they have to fulfill some special requests of customers.

For example, it is very common for restaurants to receive special requests from hotel guests such as vegetarian, organic or free range meal options.

Dining Sequence

Food items should be placed orderly according to the dinning sequences of customers. Sequences of items are always started from appetizers to main dishes and then desserts.

Spending Power

The marked prices of food and beverage items should be decided by the spending power of the customers, and the market positioning of the restaurant.

Customer Types

The nature of target segments would affect the decisions of what items to be provided in a restaurant.

For example, a restaurant would provide more healthy food if it mainly targets seniors.

Food-related factors focus on cost of materials and percentage of profit, material supply and demand, nutritional values and the variety of food stuffs.

Cost and Price of Materials

Besides considering the spending power of target segments, management should also think carefully about the cost of food materials and other auxiliary costs to ensure a certain percentage of profit can be achieved.

Nutritional Values

A balanced diet is important. Nutritional value should be a consideration when planning a menu. Customers preferences for low-fat, high-fibre diets and vegetarian food items, also need to be considered.

Supply of Food Materials

Managers should ensure the stable supply of food materials when planning the menu. Special attention should be put on food materials which may only be available in certain seasons.

Hygiene and Safety

In order to avoid food poisoning, the restaurants should re-examine the proposed menu and see if any high-risk ingredients can be avoid in the planning stage.

The operational hours of the menu, (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and the skills and training of the kitchen staff. These are all factors that have to be taken into consideration.


Kitchen procedures should be reviewed to ensure the food materials proposed can be handled and stored properly in the existing kitchen setting.


The location has close connection with the target segments of the restaurant. Causal dining restaurants which are located in commercial districts should consider having menu items which are easy to prepare in order to handle customer flow during the lunch hours.

Due to this reason, fast food restaurants and cafés are very common in these districts. Fine dining restaurants which may also be located in commercial districts, will have fewer changes made on their menus because of their target segments and market positioning.

Marketing-related factors focus on menu and restaurant design with an emphasis on the style and decor of the facilities and menu layout as well as the target market and comparison to competitors.


This is applicable as it provides useful information to restaurants about what competitors are providing to their customers. It is a good source of reference when planning a restaurant menu.


Menu items provided should be matched with the decoration of restaurant for its unity.

For example, McDonald’s fast food restaurant, the menu items are limited when compared with other restaurants.

The decoration and design are also simple and clear, such as simple chairs and tables with plain adornments.


The design of menu should be attractive and easy to read which can be act as an effective marketing tool to attract potential customers.


Management should be considerate in offering menus which are written in the same languages used by target segments. Restaurants which target both locals and foreigners should provide menus with corresponding languages.

Menu pricing is one of the critical factors to the success of a restaurant’s business. It determines how much money the restaurant would make and the perception of how much customers would be willing to pay for dining in the restaurant.

There is no standardized method in pricing the menu but a few approaches are commonly used by practitioners for different purposes.

A menu is anything you use to communicate with your potential customers by showing them what your restaurant has to offer. Everything that is undertaken in the restaurant and how the establishment is perceived, is linked to the food and menu.

The menu in large part, defines the restaurant’s image and elevates or lowers the customers expectations.

You are planning a dinner party, think of a theme you like and design a menu you feel would be suitable to serve your friends.

Take into account the following aspects of menu design:

Book-folded or a single sheet
Type of card or paper used
Language used and the font size and type
Size of the menu
Cover design