Menu Writing vs. Menu Programming

Closed black menu
Image: dmbaker / iStock / Getty Images Plus

A menu is more than just a list of items for sale accompanied by their prices. Menus are valuable revenue-generating tools that can boost a restaurant or bar’s bottom line. There’s a difference between writing a menu and programming a menu.

That difference? Data.

According to Mark Kelnhofer, president and CEO of Return On Ingredients, menu programming should start with cost management as a key concern. Successful operators know the cost of every ingredient, every element, of every single food and beverage item on their menus.

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We asked industry leaders to weigh in on what metrics they were tracking to ensure proper cash flow, increased profit margins, and operations setup for future growth.

It may seem obsessive or otherwise ludicrous but there are indeed operators out there who factor in the costs of beverage napkins and straws for their cocktails. They’re obsessed with tracking, battling and eliminating costs. These operators are fanatical devotees of the recipe costing card. Their restaurants or bars are better off for their nonstop battle to lower operational costs.

READ THIS: Ace Up Your Sleeve: 5 Down & Dirty Menu Tricks

However, there are still many operators out there who simply slap dollar amounts onto the items on their menus. Their approach is less scientific and more guesswork. Rather than using data, they assume guessing at what the market will sustain in terms of pricing is good enough. What good enough turns out to be is flawed, wishful thinking that leads to permanently closed restaurant doors.

Accounting, it’s safe to say, isn’t the most appealing aspect of restaurant or bar ownership. For most, it’s not as sexy as creating a signature dish or cocktail that becomes a hit amongst guests. But without accounting, cost management and recipe costing card discipline, operators won’t last long enough to enjoy the process of conceptualizing, realizing and sharing their food and beverage offerings.

READ THIS: Is There a Disruption of Convenience?

In other words, failing to understand costs when programming a menu can and will cost an operator their business (and likely much more).

Join Kelnhofer on Monday, March 25, 2019 at 2:00 p.m. PST at the Food & Beverage Innovation Conference, co-located with the Nightclub & Bar Show. During his informative session he’ll discusses how engineering menus for profitability is crucial to the long-term success of a bar or restaurant operation. Using accurate recipe costing as a base, attendees will learn how to identify and use the proper data to make informed, methodical decisions about their menus. Register now!

Operators who want to thrive rather than merely survive must understand that menu programming is an important element in terms of driving profit.

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