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Throughout history, ale and beer have always formed a part of the British traditional diet with the brewing process itself being a much safer option back in the days, than drinking water. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St. Albans, Hertfordshire holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest pub in England and beers in its early days was usually served in jugs or directly from tapped wooden barrels on a table in the corner of the bar. You can also check out menu templates.
Profits during those times were so high that bar owners were able to buy the property next door turning every room and corner into bars and lounges for customers. Such was the popularity of pubs and bars that started in the U.K and which the Brits brought to the United States. Today, it’s hard to make a turn in any corner of the street without finding a bar or pub serving drinks for the weary blue collar worker, a vet back home or a young, brokenhearted college guy. If you own one and it isn’t bringing in the numbers, then perhaps, you need a revamp on your menu, starting with these elements:
1. Basics: Ideally, a restaurant or bar menu offers a good balance between traditional dishes and popular food whilst also balancing the right food cost to maintain and increase profits. Before starting your menu plan, decide the items that you want to offer at your bar. Keep in mind that your design would represent your bar’s concept and target customers.
2. Pricing: Once you’ve made up your mind on what food and drinks to offer, do the math for the correct food cost and evaluate how much your profit would be. One more way to make sure you maintain profit is to create a balance of expensive and cheaper menu items then keep the use of market price items to a minimum since they have the biggest fluctuation in prices.
3. Layout: It’s safe to say that the layout of a bar menu is reflective of the bar itself. Menu designs whether they’re casual, bordering on the quirky, playful or plain should match the bar’s concept, location, and theme. Font color and overall color scheme should also be consistent with the theme. For instance, if it’s an Irish pub, people would expect bright greens, sage green and overflowing beer choices.
4. Description: Description of items in the menu should be vivid, rich and enticing enough to influence the guest’s appetite. Make it a point to explain what the major ingredients are, in a specific dish, and use unique, ethnic names to add an original flair to the description, but make sure they also fit. Overall, a good rule of thumb when writing the descriptions is to keep it short and simple.
Many of us lack graphic design skills even though we may have access to different design software. If you’re a businessman who doesn’t have knowledge over layout and basic design process, you may find templates across the internet useful, such as the ones we have included in this article.
However, if you’re an artist or a bar owner, designing your menu can be done through these steps:
1. Make use of local resources: Using local produce gives you more chance to add variety to your menu, changing it as the season changes and is also a great marketing tool. Currently, the use of local food go beyond just the usual hometown cuisines as well as fruits and vegetables. It can also mean sustainable food choices, homemade pastries or local restaurant gardens. Buying local produce doesn’t only help your local economy, but the food as well as the drinks usually tastes more unique and looks far better than the ones grown in larger farms and orchards.
2. Think of the size of your bar: The size of your bar will usually decide how large your menu should be. The bigger your kitchen, the more items you can put on the menu. However, if you try to offer a large and complex choice of food and drinks out of a small and fairly commercial kitchen, which is possible although really difficult, you’ll run into a series of problems during happy hour.
3. Use imagery: Color helps guests understand your bar’s atmosphere deeper than just knowing it’s a pub they can go to after work or during Saturday nights. For example, a high-end restaurant with a dress code wants a menu printed on brown, thick paper. A local pub that provides Friday night football viewing would use the colors of the league or the local team’s colors to show a great, supporting atmosphere.
4. Add graphics: Add relevant, appropriate graphics especially when you want to highlight signature drinks such as the British ale. Graphics are also great to use in depicting flavors and the food on the bar menu. Try using blocks of color or a border in highlighting certain specialty items which bar regulars may miss if they’re so focused on the entrees.
5. Make the type readable: Use a large bold font. A font size of 12-14 usually works well for the name of the item followed by a description that uses a 12 or 10-point font. Avoid using smaller fonts to fit everything on the menu, as it will just look crowded and make it difficult to order. List the menu items with high profit margins in contrasting, bold fonts. For instance, if your menu is pale green, use a bold deep purple, dark blue or dark green font to highlight items you want people to order.
Your bar menu is representative of your establishment’s brand identity. It should, therefore, end up as more than just a list of beer and ale, including other alcoholic drinks your serve. The overall layout should reflect the concept of your bar, and if you nail that, you’re sure to bring in more guests. Follow these two simple tips if you aren’t that convinced yet:
Although a menu can be edited and customized, they can be printed in these standard sizes:
Your bar and kitchen should take up 15-25% of the total space in your establishment. Any smaller and you’ll be running short on what you can actually serve during a single shift. Any bigger and you’ll be wasting prime property that could be used for customer or guest seating.
If you want to stay long in business and survive or better yet, trump the competition, keep your menu updated. It’s not something you develop and then leave on the back-burner. You should make it a point to update it at least once every year, but preferably every quarter when your resources allow it. Updating regularly lets you check your pricing and evaluate how popular or unpopular certain items are.
Just like a good pint of beer on game day and a local brew for Saturday nights, having the right mix, the right strategy to the menu’s layout will make a huge difference in bringing in profit and building a great customer base. By properly organizing the design, and with the ability to put your vocabulary to good use in describing premium items as well as knowing what should come first as to visual hierarchy, you’ll have patrons more involved.
People come back to local pubs and bars when they identify with them, and rightfully so. Your menus should make an impact in building that customer engagement as it is the heart of any restaurant. It also communicates anything unique that you can offer and it can be the deciding factor between your bar’s failure or success.