Working with Designers
Menu Shape and Form
Printing the Menu
Certain mechanical factors must be considered in menu planning. No matter how well the menu
is planned and priced, it must also be properly presented so that it is understood quickly and leads
to satisfactory sales. Communicating and selling are the main functions of a successful menu.
Good use of mechanical factors will enhance a menu’s appearance, make a favorable impression
on patrons, and advance the overall aims of the operation. Using the services of a professional
design firm may be one way to achieve cohesive brand identity
Professional menu printing companies can also be of considerable help in developing a menu
that is attractive and achieves its purpose as a merchandising medium. For this reason, the material
in this article is designed to teach readers how to work with professionals as well as how to
do the job without assistance.
How a menu is presented is important to most operations. For commercial establishments the
menu does much to convey the type of operation and its food and service. If the menu communicates
accurately through design and layout, as well as through the copy, it can sell the items on it.
Most menus are printed on paper and given to patrons to look at, but some are not presented
in this way. A cafeteria menu board may show items for sale and list prices. This could be posted
so that patrons waiting in line have a preview of their choices. A quick-service operation might
have menu boards behind the counter or backlit signage with pictures at the drive-through. Some
operations have handwritten menus to give a homey and personal touch. A menu may be made to
resemble a small newspaper and list the latest news along with menu items. As long as the primary
goal of communicating choices to guests is met, there are a dazzling variety of means to
The manner in which menu items are presented should be selected to best meet the needs of
the operation. A hospital may have selected menus printed on colored paper, each color indicating
a different diet. On some, special instructions concerning selections by patients may be used.
Many hospitals have staff visit patients’ rooms with handheld computers to take orders and
answer questions. The sales department of a hotel or catering department may need a package of
menu options to give to people interested in arranging special functions at the hotel.
Some operations need a number of different menus, such as breakfast, brunch, lunch, early
bird, dinner, or late night. A country club may need a menu for its bar where steaks, sandwiches,
and snack foods are served; another for a coffee shop or game room; a small snack and beverage
service near the swimming pool; and another for the main dining room. A hotel or motel might
use a special room-service menu. As these menus vary in their purpose and requirements, so must
they vary in the manner in which menu items are presented.
The most common menu is the one presented on firm paper, the front being used for some logo,
design, or motif. Inside, on the left and right sides of the fold, à la carte offerings (items selected and
paid for individually) are listed. The back may also contain à la carte items and alcoholic beverages,
or give information about hours of operation and short notes of interest about the operation,
locale, or some of the special items served. The items on this heavy paper are permanent.
Often, menu items that change, including table d’hôte meals (foods or meals sold together at
one price), are printed on lighter paper and attached to the more rigid menu.
Sometimes menus have items that are à la carte and selections that include a number of side
dishes with prices set accordingly. Some or all of the side dishes may be purchased à la carte.
(See Exhibit 7.1) While this menu shows many à la carte items, the sandwiches are served with fries
and slaw and the Specials and Entrée items have choice of potato and (famous) onion bread.
Some menus may offer specials. These can be attached as clip-ons or inserts. If they are used,
the basic menu should provide space for them. They should not cover other menu items.
Clip-ons or inserts are used to give greater emphasis to items management wants to push.
Menu with À la Carte and Table d’hôte
elements: Twin City Grill