Menu Management is often neglected by operators and can lead to consumer boredom, high food cost and unnecessary labor cost. Where we used to see trends like rising food costs, eating habits and tastes happen over longer periods, we now see these trends occurring with great speed. You need to be on top of what’s happening and aware of how they can impact your menu. The following illustration shows how the raw cost of a cheeseburger and fries has changed in the past ten years relevant to the retail selling price:

8oz. Cheesburger & Fries

2003 2008 2013 2014
Cost to Make $1.82 $2.46 $3.82 $4.60
Cost to Serve $1.26 $1.98 $2.68 $2.98
Sell it for $6.95 $7.95 $9.95 $10.95
$ Profit $3.87 $3.51 $3.45 $3.37
% Profit 55% 44% 35% 31%

Source: Ballance Hospitality 2013

So menu management is not something to ignore or assume you can change once a year. It’s a living, breathing way of tweaking you offering for the benefit of both your guest and your wallet.

Menu Management Guidelines

Here are the golden rules for keeping your menu interesting for your consumers while remaining profitable, minimizing your kitchen labor cost and keeping inventory tight:

  1. Change your menu twice to three times a year. Track your menu item mix so you know every week what’s selling and what’s not. Run weekly features and track how they sell so you can use them in your menu changes knowing they will sell.
  2. Don’t go to more than 25 to 35 items for your menu. Fact is, 75% of your food sales menu will be generated by the 25% of your menu that is popular with your guests, mainly the traditional dishes and sandwiches. Most of the other items will be steady but slow sellers.
  3. Try to duplicate proteins across categories. For instance, you can use chicken breast for a Chicken Pot Pie, a hot Chicken Sandwich, a Chicken Salad, a Chicken Tender for kids and a Chicken & Bacon Boxty. It’s an efficient and cost-effective way of managing your menu items.
  4. Observe the trends in your industry. Not all your appetizers have to be fried and some items should appeal to healthier eating habits. Fish & Chips can be offered as an option of deep-fried or grilled. Burgers might included a great turkey burger. Salads should be interesting, different and plentiful.
  5. Learn basic menu engineering and understand where item placement on your menu will get best results. Always remember that you are trying to generate high-volume sales from low-cost items.  A Shepherd’s Pie will be one of your best sellers but the cost to make it is relatively low.
  6. Always watch what’s happening with food commodity cost. We live in a time where we are seeing unprecedented rise in the price of meat proteins in particular.
Owner Insights
I have a lower cost of sales on beverage and I don’t need a kitchen-full of expensive staff to serve it!
Irish Pub Operator | PENNSYLVANIAView Owner Insights
Pub Facts

Bill Barich. American author, on being asked: "how come you can find an “Irish pub” in any city in the world?", replied: "They’re tremendous money-makers. There’s this whole concept of the Irish pub, anywhere you go in the world, you find one."

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