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Go Small or Go Home: An argument for smaller menus

Go Small or Go Home: An argument for smaller menus

I’ve been a big proponent of smaller menus from the moment I started branding restaurants. However, getting a client to “buy in” to the idea is like pulling teeth. The mentality of “more is more” and bigger menus equal bigger revenue is a tough nut to crack. Smaller menus aren’t just an effort of a single part of your restaurant, it affects the entire operation, and, ultimately, your brand. The skeptics reading already have their eyebrows peaked so here are 5 ways  a menu with less items is better.

1. Less Menu Items = Fresher Food. If you have less items on your menu, then you have less produce you need to stock. This means the produce you are using will get used faster and, therefore, it’ll be fresher.

2. Less Menu Items = Faster Covers. With a smaller menu, your back of house staff has less recipes and prep instructions to follow. This means they can turn out the dishes much quicker so your covers turn faster. Concurrently, looking at a smaller menu with less choices hastens the patrons ability to place their orders.

3. Less Menu Items = More Consistency. Consistency is king. With less recipes and prep instructions to follow, the BOH staff becomes acclimated to the recipes. This means they can focus on many a smaller amount of items damn good instead of a large amount of items mediocre.

4. Less Menu Items = Happier Chef. Chefs like to experiment. They like to keep things new. With a smaller menu, they can stick to the staples and introduce featured, seasonal dishes without killing overhead or further cluttering an already heavy menu. Happy Chefs = Happy Restaurant.

5. Less Menu Items = More Knowledgeable Staff. With less menu items you have less training to do and less hiccups on the floor when a staff member is asked about a certain dish. The FOH will be easier to train which reads as less time spent and less money spent. They’ll know more which means they’ll be more apt to up-sell and help patrons which means more revenue and higher ticket averages.

When you look at it, there isn’t much reason NOT to reduce the size of your menu. These are just the high level benefits. Think about when a chef quits. A smaller menu is easier to train a new chef on and ramp him up quickly. The benefits are indefinite, but more importantly they all equal MORE REVENUE.

Sure, some will argue, my patrons want variety. They want options. I say that if you listen to everything your patrons say, you’ll be closing the doors in a month or two. This is your business, your restaurant and your brand. Give them a consistently great experience on all sides of the brand and they’ll keep coming. You can’t please everyone so stop trying.

Go Small or Go Home.


Joseph serves as principal and creative director at Vigor, a restaurant and beverage branding and marketing firm, and curator/author/podcaster/host for Grits X Grids.

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