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Back House Biz $1.01- Oh My! My Menu Is Out Of Control

You've heard me say that the most important aspect of your restaurant is your menu. It is the reason for your existence, as well as your most important marketing tool. Why is it that restaurant owners, on average, like to create these huge tomes of offerings without realizing there are real consequences to these albatrosses.

It is a statistical fact that your top 3 to 4 items in any section of your menu make up 60% of the sales in that section. Let that sink in for a moment...…..

Boston Pizza is one of Canada's most successful chain restaurants across the country and is synonymous for having a huge menu. I was looking in their appetizer section and counted 15 items (If you include the three styles of wings they offer). If the statistics are true, that would mean that 25% of the appy section makes up the 60% of appetizer sales. That's 4 items out of 15 which are the bread winners. If I had to rub my crystal ball, I would predict that the sellers are wings, nachos, chicken fingers, and maybe the spinach and artichoke dip.

Think of your menu like a property, wouldn't you want to place a few nice easily sellable houses on your property instead of filling it will multiple houses flooding the market, making them all look the same. Focus on 6 or seven appies instead of flooding the market with 12 - 13 items which will only sit empty.

In my opinion the magic number on how many items you place in a section is 7. For example this is how I would lay out a typical pub menu:

7 appetizers

5 Soup and salad - 1 house soup, 1 soup of the day, 3 entrée salads.

7 sandwiches - 2 Vegetarian options and 5 solid sellers for the rest.

7 Burgers - 4 Gourmet beef burgers, 2 Gourmet chicken burgers, 1

vegetarian burger.

5 Entrees - People mostly eat appies/ shared plates or burgers/

sandwiches, but a smaller higher priced section doesn't


3 Desserts

This menu comes in at 34 items when most pub menus run about 45-50 items. Unless you are selling all your 45 items with even distribution, then why waste resources to prepare 10-15 more items. Logistically a bigger menu translates to higher food costs, too many single use items in inventory, and with a large menu, you need more staff to execute it. The labour market is not doing you any favours, and if anyone tells you different, they are lying to you.

Don't fall into the trap that many have before you. Keeping it small and sleek will always get you to the finish line quicker.

Til next time, See ya on the flip side.

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