7 tips for crafting a winning seasonal menu

Restaurant owners across the country are adapting seasonal menus to feature the flavor profiles of each time of year. Seasonal menus are great for attracting customers and promoting sustainability — not to mention the freedom it can allow for your chefs to get creative in the kitchen. 

Eating fresh and locally sourced ingredients is all the rage amongst diners. When your restaurant embraces a seasonal menu, you can create an authentic and locally sourced dining experience right at the heart of your community.

Hungry diners are searching for ways to enjoy each season, so it’s up to you to craft an irresistible seasonal menu that perfectly captures these flavors. Before you embark on creating a seasonal menu, here are some tips you should know:

What is a seasonal menu?

A seasonal menu is a limited edition menu that utilizes seasonal ingredients to create dishes that appeal to the flavor profile of the time of year. Restaurants craft seasonal menus to promote ingredients that are fresh at the moment.

Why is it important to have a seasonal menu?

Diners look for tasty recipes that coincide with the seasons. A seasonal menu can be a unique attraction that brings diners through your door. Offering seasonal dishes that differ from your normal options excites returning customers and inspires new guests to give your restaurant a try.

Customers’ interest in seasonal dishes is reflected in their ordering habits. Grubhub’s State of the Plate report noted that butternut squash soup was one of the most popular dishes ordered this winter, and customers looked for strawberry lemonade freezes in the spring. 

Tapping into seasonal flavors can help you capture these hungry diners who are searching for ways to enjoy each season.

A seasonal menu can not only generate excitement around particular times of the year, but can also help control food costs. 

Cooking with seasonal ingredients that are more abundant during peak times curbs high supply costs because farmers and distributors have larger bounties to sell. Buying seasonal ingredients is sustainable, too. When you prioritize seasonal food you support your local supply chain while utilizing fresh ingredients.

How do you create a seasonal menu?

Wondering how your restaurant can capture seasonal flavors and build excitement amongst your customers?

 Here are seven tips you should know before you craft the perfect seasonal menu:

1.  Find what’s in season

Figuring out what ingredients are in season to create this menu sounds like a no-brainer, but this can differ based on where your restaurant is located. You can source your local farms and distributors to learn what ingredients are fresh in your area.

Each season brings different fresh ingredients, and your job is to capture these ingredients in your dishes. Here are some ingredients that are fresh each season:

Spring menu ingredients: Blueberry, artichoke, asparagus, peaches, rhubarb, snap peas

Summer menu ingredients: Watermelon, basil, bell peppers, corn, eggplant, tomatoes

Fall menu ingredients: Sweet potatoes, apples, brussel sprouts, cranberry, pumpkin, squash

Winter menu ingredients: Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, grapefruit, kale, pears

2.  Source local

Sustainable eating is on the rise, and diners are increasingly health-conscious and mindful of the food they eat. Sourcing local ingredients creates a fresh dining experience that highlights the origins of your dishes to attract customers.

Partnering with local farmers to get ingredients for your seasonal menu can also help you foster community relationships. Shopping locally also builds connections in your neighborhood and helps give back to the local economy.

Lighthouse, a farm-to-table restaurant in New York City, has found great success sourcing local ingredients to craft their menu. Lighthouse utilizes in-season ingredients to help decrease the cost of their local ingredients. They have been able to foster community within the city and keep customers happy by getting creative with their organic, locally-sourced ingredients.

3. Let your staff get involved

Seasonal menus give you a chance to experiment and get creative. Let your chefs come up with new dishes and encourage your servers to learn the stories behind the limited edition items. Adding variety to your kitchen can keep staff engaged and excited about your restaurant.

4.  Create a holiday menu

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without turkey and the 4th of July wouldn’t be complete without a cookout. Food is a central part of many holiday celebrations. 

You know hungry customers are looking for specific dining experiences around the holidays, so why not make your restaurant the go-to place to enjoy these traditions? Every season brings widely celebrated holidays that can be a great chance to build excitement around a limited edition menu. 

A great holiday menu can bring new customers looking for specific traditional dishes through the door.

5. Promote your seasonal menu on social media

Seasonal menus are time-sensitive, so you want to make sure you get the word out to inspire customers to place an order before it’s gone. Posting about your exclusive seasonal ingredients on social media can directly reach your customers and get them excited about placing an order. 

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great places to highlight your seasonal dishes and let customers know how long the menu lasts.

6. Pair your dishes with seasonal drinks

There’s nothing better than warming up with a smooth hot chocolate in the winter or cooling down with a fresh lemonade in the summer. Seasonal beverages are a huge draw for diners and a great way to incorporate seasonal flavors.

Crafting creative seasonal cocktails or featuring a seasonal beer on your menu is also a great way to experiment with new brands and flavors. Diners get excited about specialty drinks, and adding seasonal drinks to your alcoholic beverage selection can also increase customers’ check size.

Did you know you can sell alcoholic beverages on Grubhub? Let your diners bring seasonal beverages home by offering alcohol to your delivery and takeout menu.

7. Don’t forget the sides

Side dishes are an easy way to add seasonal ingredients to your menu without making big changes. Pairing main courses with sauces, garnishes, or small dishes will allow you to incorporate seasonal ingredients at a lower cost.

Tap into delivery with your seasonal menu

Incorporating seasonal ingredients into your menu can be a great way to attract new customers, strengthen community relationships, and let your creativity shine. 

Building a seasonal menu that captures trending dishes can also allow you to incorporate fresh ingredients and intrigue customers who are looking for popular meals. While in-season foods remain consistent year to year, trends in how diners love to enjoy these ingredients shift yearly. 

Before you put the finishing touches on your seasonal menu remember that not every item in your menu needs to be seasonal as the months’ change. Make sure you keep the staple dishes that your restaurant is known for so that your regular customers can enjoy their favorite meals all year round. While it’s fun to feature seasonal items, consistency across your menu is essential to maintaining your restaurant’s personality.

Ready to reach more customers with your seasonal menu? Sign up for Grubhub today to get access to a menu consulting team and restaurant experts who will work with you to optimize your menu for online ordering success.

How to build the perfect delivery menu (it’s easier than you think)

Once upon a time, you were lucky if you had one solid option for food delivery: pizza. Over the last few decades, the number of restaurants offering takeout and delivery has steadily increased. During the pandemic, those statistics rose exponentially.

According to the National Restaurant Association, 68% of adults say they’re more likely to bring home delivery or takeout now versus before the pandemic. Even more exciting is the 53% of adults who say takeout and delivery are now essential to their way of life.

For restaurant owners and operators, these stats translate into endless opportunities. But to succeed at delivery and takeout you need a menu that’s optimized and full of dishes built to travel. Here’s how Grubhub experts suggest building a successful delivery menu made to raise revenue.

Choose your delivery menu items wisely

Your delivery menu should be an extension of your dine-in experience, but not identical. To make life easier on your staff and your customers, audit your menu to identify items that are delivery-friendly.

It also helps to refine your menu to include seven or fewer items in each category. That may mean paring down your salads or entrees to avoid giving customers decision fatigue — that’s when they have so many options, they get overwhelmed and either order less or decide not to order at all.

Keep in mind dishes that may continue to cook during delivery

Delivery timing can be quite challenging. While cold dishes can travel on ice packs and in insulated carriers, some hot dishes are at risk of cooking past their ideal point while they’re on their way to the customer.

Here are some popular dishes to look out for:

Steaks and burgers

Beef is often ordered to a specific temperature, like medium-rare. Once packed hot, steaks and burgers may continue cooking and arrive dried out and chewy.

Ceviche and sushi

Raw fish seems like a relatively easy dish to transport — just keep it cold, right? Not so fast. Ceviche and certain types of sushi are “cooked” by marinating them in citrus. If left in contact with the citric acid for too long, the fish’s proteins will break down past the point of palatability.

Fried foods

Fried food might not continue cooking, but it will steam when packed hot and sealed into tight containers.

Most of these challenges can be tempered by watching your timing. Beef should be picked up and delivered within an hour of cooking. Ceviche and sushi should always be made to order, or in high-volume situations, checked regularly and kept cool until pick-up. As for fried foods, vented containers can help prevent soggy breading.

Pack sauces, creams, and cheeses separately

Few things are less appetizing than wet sandwich bread or hot sour cream half-melted into now-flimsy nachos. When moisture and foods like bread and chips mix, you get a mess. That mess leads to plummeting customer satisfaction and a major issue for your business. Luckily, there’s an easy fix.

All sauces, creams, cheeses, and other wet ingredients should be packed in small plastic containers and sealed with plastic wrap to prevent spills. It’s easy enough for a customer to spoon guacamole on their fish tacos or add gravy to their diner fries. Even ketchup and mustard on a burger can be problematic — those extra condiment packets and vented containers for the potato tots may expand your packaging costs, but customer loyalty is worth the investment.

Offer customers the chance to create their own menu items — but only to a point

Customers love custom dining experiences, which is why build-your-own menu items have become so popular. But for restaurant owners, there’s a fine line between providing enough customization and undermining your own operation (and bottom line). Too many options not only leads to decision fatigue, but it also takes too much power away from the cooks who know what it takes to create a memorable menu item.

Food Service Directors stress the benefits of curation over customization. Rather than giving customers 50 pizza toppings to choose from, give them 15 plus several predetermined combinations that make it easy to choose. It’ll be far simpler to maintain inventory and keep up with tickets during a rush and guests won’t be buried under an avalanche of possibilities. You also won’t have to take responsibility for broccoli, pineapple, and Swiss cheese pie someone took it upon themselves to order and then hated (surprise surprise).

The same concept extends to pricing. Custom options can add up quickly for consumers, but you also don’t want to offer blanket pricing that could leave you out of pocket. One solution is to offer a base price and only charge for premium ingredients such as avocado or imported cheeses. Another option is to play with portions and sizes. For instance, you might charge the same for adding chicken or salmon to a Caesar salad, but the salmon portion maybe 30% less than the serving size of the chicken. Less confusion is a win for all involved.

Always include photos in your delivery menu

Pop quiz: What one change to your delivery menu design can get you 70% more online orders and increase your delivery and takeout sales by 65%? The answer: food photography.  Adding photos to your menu isn’t as important in-house where guests can smell your food and watch dishes hit the tables around them. But when customers are on their couches at home thinking about giving you a try, it’s important to appeal to as many senses as possible.

The team at Fish in Sausalito, CA know how vaknowsle pictures can be to a delivery menu. From a Fish Louie brimming with fresh seafood to a tempting tuna salad sandwich, Fish’s pictures bring their concept to life. As a result, orders and revenue are on the rise.

example of food photos in a delivery menu

Not sure how to get started with menu photos? Grubhub for Restaurants supplies partners with a professional photographer when they sign up!

Now you can show guests what your pho bo or Greek nachos look like and increase the chances they’ll click that “order now” button.

Make sure you include mouthwatering menu descriptions

A whopping 86% of millennials decide to try a new restaurant based on food-related content they see on the internet. Some of the content is on Instagram — hello drool-worthy photos — but a lot of it comes down to the descriptions you include on your delivery menu.

Cayenne, a restaurant in Brooklyn specializing in Nashville hot chicken, has mastered the art of mouthwatering menu descriptions.

example of a strong menu description for a delivery menu

Cayenne’s menu puts the best practices for dish descriptions into good use.

  • Use high-value words like “crunchy” and “creamy” to create a sensory experience
  • Let guests know exactly what they’re getting right down to how a dessert is layered or whether the chicken is spicy
  • Reference the origins or quality of an ingredient, such as if it’s organic or all-natural
  • Describe how a dish is best eaten so guests get the best flavors possible

Find the right packaging for your delivery menu

Once you’ve created a stellar delivery menu, make sure it gets to customers in the right condition by picking out the perfect packaging. Choose containers that:

  • Keep cold and hot elements separate during travel
  • Isolate creams, sauces, dressings, and condiments to avoid getting bread and other crispy/crunchy items wet and soggy
  • Vent hot items like French fries to prevent overcooking and/or steaming
  • Are the right size so you can plate as properly as possible and minimize how much dishes get tossed around

Pairing the right delivery menu with the right delivery partner

You can spend all the time in the world building an incredible delivery menu, but none of it matters if you can’t trust the people carrying your meals to customers. Your delivery partner is an extension of your brand, which is why it’s important to work with a company like Grubhub, that is invested in your success.

When you join Grubhub for Restaurants, you’ll be assigned a dedicated Account Advisor who will work with you to optimize your delivery menu for optimal results. From providing menu consulting services to arranging for a free professional menu shoot to helping you incorporate alcohol into your delivery menus (where allowed by law), Grubhub takes you through the steps necessary to make your delivery and takeout operations the best they can be.

But that’s not all! When you join Grubhub for Restaurants, your menu will be listed on Grubhub Marketplace where over 33 million hungry diners head every day to find their next meal. Finally, all your work gets the audience it deserves.

Ready to get started? Sign up today!

graphic banner illustrating the power of a Grubhub partnership

Revisiting your menu pricing? Use these three methods to strategize like an expert

According to Bloomberg, restaurant owners have reported 2-5%  increases in menu pricing through June 2021. The reason? 

Rising food and wage costs are forcing operators across the country to revisit their margins in an effort to stymie losses and protect their bottom line and their employees. Even Tim Hortons and Burger King have seen beef and mayo prices soar due to supply chain challenges.

For restaurateurs, learning how to raise menu pricing, protect your profit margin, and still keep guests happy is crucial — but it’s also an art form. 

Here are three restaurant menu pricing methods that can help you get a handle on your costs.

The food cost percentage method for menu pricing

Food cost percentage is one of the most important metrics in the restaurant world. It’s also known as Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), which reflects the total cost of all the ingredients in a specific recipe or in a specific time period.

 Understanding your food cost percentage is key to maximizing your restaurant’s profitability and protecting your profit margins. Calculating it determines how much you need to charge customers in order to cover your expenses and still bring in a suitable amount of revenue.

While average food cost percentage differs by restaurant type (quick service vs. fine dining, for example), experts recommend restaurants aim for an average food cost percentage of 28-32%.

How do you calculate food cost percentage?

To determine your food cost percentage, use this formula:

  • Food Costs ÷ Food Sales x 100 = Food Cost Percentage

So, if you spent $3,000 on ingredients and your food sales were $10,000, the calculation would be:

  • Food Costs ($3,000) ÷ Food Sales ($10,000) x 100 = Food Cost Percentage of 30%

To use food cost percentage to price your menu items, simply add up the cost of all the ingredients included in a particular recipe, divide that total cost by your existing or desired food cost percentage, then round off the price (if necessary). So, if you have a dish that costs $6 to make and your target food cost percentage is 30%, the calculation would be:

  • $6.00 ÷ .30 = $20

What is the competition-based pricing strategy?

Just as the name suggests, competition-based menu pricing uses the prices of your competitors as a starting point. The idea is to understand and analyze what market pricing for similar items is like and use that information to make an educated decision regarding your own pricing.

Using this strategy, you can:

  • Match your competitors’ pricing 
  • Undercut your competitors by pricing similar dishes slightly lower and attract customers looking for value
  • Go for a slightly higher price and emphasize value over savings

While competitor-based pricing looks like it relies solely on comparison pricing to help you make a decision, the smarter play is to look at the bigger picture. Use competitor pricing in conjunction with factors like your overall marketing strategy (are you value-oriented or aiming for a high-end guest experience?) and food costs to stay on brand and on budget.

What is the good better best pricing strategy?

The good-better-best pricing strategy, also known as the tiered pricing method, gives customers three options for a product at three different prices. Each offering centers on a core product with higher-priced tiers including an additional item or incentive to entice customers to pay that higher price. 

An example of this might be:

  • Option 1: Hamburger
  • Option 2: Hamburger with fries
  • Option 3: Hamburger with fries and a drink

Each tier adds value and allows the restaurant owner to increase the price while giving customers more choices, avoiding the ultimatum-like feel that comes with a single option. Airlines and movie theaters use the same concept. The economy, business class, or first-class seating customers purchase to get to their destination includes different perks and packages based on the price of the seat.

You see the same concept with software companies, too. Just need basic features? The basic membership is probably fine. But having two additional tiers with more features and a higher membership cost increases customer choices while also boosting revenue.

Experts say good-better-best restaurant menu pricing works because it empowers customers while also helping operators avoid missed opportunities. Opting for a single price all but guarantees you’ll miss out on revenue because there will always be people who would’ve paid more. 

So, if you’re a fine dining restaurant, you could offer:

  • Good: An early-bird menu that caters to early birds with a discounted three-course menu only served before 6:30 pm
  • Better: Your regular menu with its own strategic pricing
  • Best: An exclusive chef’s table experience

What is an example of the tiered pricing method?

To figure out your own good-better-best pricing strategy, follow the “rule of three”:

  • Good pricing: Most inexpensive option
  • Better pricing: Mid-range item
  • Best version: Highest price tag

For example, you can create three versions of the same or similar menu items:

  • Good: Cheese pizza
  • Better: 2-topping pizza
  • Best: Pizza supreme with all the toppings

Or you can bundle an item with other dishes or condiments to increase value and increase your profit margin:

  • Good: Cheese pizza
  • Better: Cheese pizza and a dozen wings
  • Best: Cheese pizza, a dozen wings, and a 2-liter of soda

Bundling can be especially beneficial for restaurant owners because the menu items added at each tier result in a higher price tag but often lower base costs. For instance, wings are traditionally viewed as a value item and the margins on fountain drinks are very appealing. Creating a wings and drink bundle increases the revenue earned with each sale.

Although good-better-best pricing is more apparent in fast food and quick-serve restaurants, it also happens in high-end establishments.

For example:

  • Good: Filet mignon
  • Better: Filet mignon done Oscar style
  • Best: Chateaubriand with confit potatoes and bearnaise sauce, carved tableside

To make the most of your good-better-best pricing, remember these tips

  • Make your prices different enough to appeal to a wide array of customers and clearly separate each choice
  • Consider marketing your options separately as well as together — for instance, cross-promoting your early-bird menu with local theaters that have mid-to-late evening showings
  • Price your “better” option to have the biggest profit margin as the middle option is likely to sell the most
  • Play around with experience-based offerings or add-ons that offer an increase in perceived value without excessively denting your bottom line, like a “best” option that includes post-dinner access to your attached nightclub or personalized service from the house sommelier
  • Remember that the “good” option is not a throwaway — even the cheapest tier should offer good value and represent your brand/concept well

How to communicate restaurant menu pricing increases to your customers

Menu pricing is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor. 

It’s important to regularly revisit your menu pricing and consider whether your strategy needs updating or if it’s time to try something totally new. Things like market fluctuations can drastically impact your pricing almost overnight. 

By offering a solid mix of lower, middle, and higher-priced menu items, you can protect your inventory and your bottom line even when your expenses shift for reasons outside your control.

If or when you decide to make adjustments to your menu pricing, try to do so incrementally to minimize sticker shock. 

In situations where rapid increases are necessary to prevent significant losses to your bottom line, there are ways to navigate the change without upsetting customers — or at least reducing the likelihood you’ll get an avalanche of angry emails and Yelp reviews.

  • Be honest, and let customers know that you have to charge more because your suppliers are charging more, and explain why
  • Increase the perceived value by upgrading the menu description, thereby making the item seem more appealing, or by adding a low-cost side dish or other “bonus” (i.e., adding a scoop of ice cream to your triple-chocolate brownie)
  • Avoid changing the price but compensate by decreasing the portion size or type of ingredients used in the dish

Strategic, effective menu pricing takes patience, practice, and trial and error. It’s important to choose a method that fits into your overall vision and honors your branding, but the pricing also needs to work. If you sell more, you’re onto something. If you don’t, it might be time to start tweaking again.

Looking for more ways to fine-tune your restaurant operations, connect with your community, and boost your traffic? Grubhub for Restaurants offers customizable packages to help you reach your goals.

Restaurant menu design: tips and tools to help you upgrade your menu

Your restaurant menu is a greeting card, resume, and proof of concept all rolled into one. Even if you have a hostess, your menu is the first chance many diners have to see what you’re all about. The ingredients you use, the dishes you offer, and the colors and fonts you choose affect everything from the vibe of your restaurant to how much money a customer will ultimately spend.

Studies show that a strong menu design can boost profits by as much as 15%. That’s the good news.

The flip side of the coin is that a menu that’s poorly designed can leave customers underwhelmed. That’s why a strong menu is key to your restaurant’s marketing plan. To achieve that tantalizing increase in profitability, you need a menu that’s exciting, enticing, and suitable not only for in-person dining but for use on marketplace apps like Grubhub Marketplace.

Here are our top tips and menu maker tools to help you successfully upgrade your restaurant’s menu design and attract more orders.

1. Analyze your menu items and their performance

The first step toward a more profitable menu is to figure out what needs to stay  and what needs to go. It’s easy to get attached to certain menu items, especially those your back-of-house team loves to prepare or items you yourself love to eat. But this analysis needs to be objective — no personal feelings involved.

  • Remove anything that is out of date, incompatible with the current direction of your menu, and/or doesn’t  appeal to your target demographic
  • Look through online reviews and other forms of customer feedback and remove items are consistently rated low or can’t be made consistently
  • If you’re doing more takeout and delivery business, limit the number of dishes that can’t be packaged for takeout while maintaining quality (i.e., crème brûlée, yogurt parfaits, cheese souffle, etc.)
  • Eliminate options that aren’t popular or cost too much money to prepare. Find out the profit margin of each dish by calculating your cost of goods sold and ditch the items that aren’t generating revenue. 

2. Place items strategically on your menu to avoid clutter

As important as it is to evaluate what you’re putting on your menu, you also need to think about where you’re putting those items. Menu design is part science and part art form. The average diner spends less than two minutes scanning their menu before making a decision. That means you have about 109 seconds to direct their attention where you want it to go.

  • Use design tricks (called “eye magnets”) to subconsciously encourage patrons to choose high-priority items. these tools include borders, shaded or colored boxes, asterisks, photos or illustrations, and bold or specialty fonts.
  • Take advantage of white space. Leaving space for readers to relax their eyes can improve reader comprehension by up to 30%, and increase the likelihood customers will order more items. Pro tip: Use menu maker tools that have optimized templates for you to use for on-premise dining menus. 
  • The top and upper right-hand portion of the menu is prime real estate. Reserve it for your best performing and most profitable items.

3. Use mouthwatering words to amp up your menu descriptions

Which sounds better: a burger and fries or a char-grilled Angus beef burger with aged cheddar and hand-cut Idaho fries?

Your menu descriptions should be concise but descriptive. If that sounds contradictory, just think of maximizing your space. Make every word matter. Longer isn’t necessarily better, but if an adjective or specific name of a product will help sell a menu item, then there’s likely value in including it in your description.

For starters, emphasize “yummy words” that are likely to get customers’ stomachs rumbling. Salads are crispy and fresh, barbecue is sticky-sweet and smoky, and desserts are perfectly flaky with a sinful chocolate drizzle. Consider your demographic, too; if you’re catering to an audience that appreciates locally sourced produce or sustainability, work in related buzzwords.

Here are some examples of descriptions that sell: 

  • Tangy St. Lawrence goat cheese with locally farmed beets and a zesty citrus vinaigrette
  • Pillowy gnocchi in a truffle cream sauce, dusted with aged (2-year) Parmesan
  • Grandma’s Sunday meatballs on a freshly baked roll

4. Follow the best practices of menu psychology

Most menu researchers agree that there’s an art to engineering a menu that drives sales. Diners have a habit of scanning a menu in a particular pattern, starting with the upper right-hand corner. This is why you’ll often find steakhouses displaying their pricey seafood platters here and even diners make use of the “sweet spot” by offering beef short rib benedicts or smoked salmon omelets. If you outline that high-profit item or category with a bold border and use an ornate font you’re even more likely to grab guests’ attention.

Other psychological tricks for restaurant menus include:

  • Avoiding choice overload by limiting menu options to seven items or less per category. Sometimes more is just more, and guests may get overwhelmed and decide to order less (or nothing at all) because they can’t make up their minds.
  • Leading with an expensive item to make every dish that follows seem more reasonably priced.
  • Relying on the power of certain colors to guide guests’ emotions. For instance, red is a stimulating color linked to increased appetite and yellow begs for attention — a combination favored by one of the most successful restaurant franchises on the planet.

5. Rethink the way you determine and write your pricing (hint: no more dollar signs!)

Restaurants of all types and sizes are dropping the dollar sign from their menus, and it’s not just because it looks nice. Diners who look at menu items priced using dollar signs are more likely to make a strong financial association to that item. As a result, they choose cheaper options. Instead, keep pricing simple, using just a numerical value with blank space between the menu description and the price.

Example:

  • Crispy-skin Jidori chicken, herbed spaetzle, sunchoke puree     22

It’s also crucial to be strategic and deliberate about your pricing. The cost of a dish should reflect the ideal food cost percentage of 25-30% (fine dining restaurants typically sit slightly higher at 35%). If a cheeseburger costs you $4 to make, it should cost customers roughly $13 to $16.

If you need to lower your food costs to keep menu prices within reach of your target demographic, try working with your distributors, using seasonal menu ingredients, and tweaking portion sizes.

6. Avoid using PDF menus on your restaurant’s website

Here’s some food for thought:

  • Some 61% of all Google searches originate from a mobile device
  • 90% of consumers say they’ll look up a restaurant online before dining
  • 52% of consumers say that a poor mobile experience will make them less inclined to interact with a company

Using a PDF to display your restaurant’s menu automatically violates best practices of mobile optimization because it forces people to download a file that doesn’t read well on a tiny screen. In other words, it makes it difficult for all those smartphone and tablet users to easily access your menu and place an order. 

Instead, consider offering an online menu, like Grubhub Direct, that’s interactive and made specifically for mobile users. That way customers don’t have to work to find what they want, and they can order directly from you.

7. Include menu photos

The right picture can transform a mystery dish into a new favorite and make comfort food exciting again. That’s why restaurants that use photos in their menus get 70% more online orders and 65% more delivery and takeout sales. 

Food photographers know just how to capture dishes so that they look utterly crave-worthy. You don’t want to overdo the visuals, though, so pick and choose your moments. Save the pictures for items you really want to push or those that might need the extra explanation.

4 Restaurant menu maker tools and resources to help amp up your menu design

Ready to get designing? Here are four affordable menu maker tools that will help you create your next winning restaurant menu:

Online ordering menu maker tool: Grubhub Direct

This branded online ordering solution lets you take commission-free orders from your customers via a customized website that features your logo, photos, and menu.

On-premise dining menu maker tool: Adobe Spark

Create custom menus with Adobe Spark that you can print and use for indoor dining. Adobe Spark is a menu maker that makes it easy to design professional menus that are full of personality.

Additional in-person dining menu maker tool: Canva

Similar to Adobe Spark, Canva has a ton of menu maker templates that you can use for on-premise menus.  Combine your own logos and photos with stock imagery and professional menu templates from Canva to generate masterpieces that look like they took weeks to create, not just a few minutes.

Menu design inspiration: Pinterest

Stuck for inspiration? Visit Pinterest to see what competitors are up to and what’s capturing your customers’ attention.

Menu design is one of the most dynamic and flexible parts of your overall marketing plan. When you join Grubhub, you get access to free menu consulting services to help you optimize your menu for online ordering success as well as a free professional menu photoshoot.

Looking for ways to get your menu to customers? When you join Grubhub for Restaurants you’ll get access to advanced technology that will make it easy for you to create an online menu for your own website! 

Ready to get started? Sign up today!

How to write captivating menu descriptions that will increase your delivery and takeout sales

When thinking about writing a menu that will increase your delivery and takeout sales, it’s important to remember that your menu is your first impression with your customers. Your menu is a reflection of your restaurant’s concept, style and quality that you deliver. If crafted correctly, menu descriptions encourage customers to order and ultimately set their meal expectations. 

With 86% of millennials opting to try a new restaurant based on food-related content they spotted online, creating mouthwatering menu descriptions will help entice in-person diners as well as helping you stand out on an online ordering platform like Grubhub Marketplace. 

Five tips for writing mouth-watering menu descriptions

Here are five tips to help you create compelling food descriptions and perfect your restaurant menu.

Use your menu descriptions to highlight critical differentiators

According to the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, using descriptive words on your menu can boost sales by 27%. Of course, some of those words are obvious food-related adjectives (more on those in a moment). However, they also focus on what makes your menu items different from those offered by your competition. 

For instance, some 62% of diners say they’re more likely to eat at restaurants that use locally sourced ingredients. To capture those diners it’s important to highlight locally sourced ingredients in your menu descriptions.  

Nostalgia, quality, and authenticity are also high on the list of things consumers value and look for on menu restaurants.

captivating menu description example

  • Simple description: Steak and fries
  • Stronger description: Charcoal-grilled local Kolmar Farms strip steak and hand-cut Idaho russet fries
  • Simple description: House salad
  • Stronger description: House-grown greens with spring vegetables and tangy Meyer lemon vinaigrette

Depending on your menu format, you may use a simple title followed by a more expansive description:

  • Grandma’s Sunday Gravy: Grandma’s secret sauce with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh oregano simmered for eight hours then poured over handmade spaghetti

Some people will only read the title, so make sure it pops. Think of the title as the sound byte and the following description as the entire song.

Keep your menu descriptions concise

When you’re proud of your menu items, it’s natural to try to include every adjective you can think of. The problem with long descriptions is that guests rarely read them.

Keep descriptions short and concise, relying on words that pack a punch to paint a vivid and enticing picture. Remember, you’re giving guests just enough information to make their mouths water. 

If you need to pare back a lengthy description, consider which words are selling points and which are just fluff.

Concise menu description example

  • Okay description: Tasty pan-seared 1-lb Kolmar Farms cheeseburger with soft sesame-stuffed brioche bun, delicious roasted garlic aioli, crisp lettuce, fresh tomato, and red onion
  • Better description: Juicy 1-lb Kolmar Farms cheeseburger with roasted garlic aioli on a brioche bun

The second description still has some heft, but we’ve removed low-value adjectives like “tasty” and “soft” while still emphasizing the burger’s flavor, texture, and even the origin of the meat.

Write enticing menu descriptions using words designed to ignite the senses

Those descriptive words mentioned above are back in a big way. 

Consider this: On average, guests spend just 109 seconds perusing their menu. You have less than two minutes to introduce all your menu items, highlight the ones that make you the most money, and make it easier for guests to decide what to order.

Using words that speak to each of the five senses tantalizes diners while also setting expectations about what guests will be getting when their plate, bowl, or glass finally arrives.

Start with words that describe texture and flavor:

Start with words that describe texture and flavor:

  • Crunchy
  • Crispy
  • Creamy
  • Smoky
  • Velvety
  • Zesty
  • Chewy
  • Tart
  • Light
  • Tender
  • Sticky
  • Runny
  • Sweet
  • Tangy
  • Rich
  • Airy
  • Flaky
  • Doughty

Other descriptors might relate to the preparation, such as:

  • Toasted
  • Pan-seared
  • Stuffed
  • Reduction
  • Smothered
  • Sizzling
  • Slow-roasted
  • Simmered
  • Char-grilled
  • Kneaded
  • Encrusted
  • Marinated
  • Glazed
  • Deep-fried
  • Fermented
  • Sauteed
  • Sous vide
  • Whipped
  • Stewed

Then some words hint as to how a dish will make you feel:

  • Refreshing
  • Comforting
  • Mouthwatering
  • Sinful

Descriptive menu item example

  • Simple description: Lobster with linguini in cream sauce
  • Stronger description: Butter-poached Maine lobster with oven-roasted local tomatoes, handmade linguini, and a peppery tarragon cream sauce
  • Simple description: Pears and vanilla gelato
  • Stronger description: Cinnamon baked Anjou pears with creamy honey-vanilla gelato and crunchy candied pecans

Include quantity and drop the dollar sign

Guests should always know how much they’re getting and what that serving will cost. Anything shared, such as an appetizer or family-style entrée, should be clearly denoted as a larger portion as part of the menu description. 

  • Simple description: Crab rangoon
  • Better description: Six pieces of crispy crab Rangoon stuffed with creamy cheese and jumbo lump crab

Additionally, consider dropping the dollar sign. One study found that diners make a stronger financial association when menu items are priced using a dollar sign. As a result, they opt for cheaper choices

 

Instead, experts recommend using a standalone numeral with no dots or dashes in between the number and description.

  • Simple description: Crab rangoon………… $12
  • Stronger description: Six pieces of crispy crab Rangoon stuffed with creamy cheese and jumbo lump crab 12

Know your audience

When was the last time you wrote an email without first knowing who you were sending it to? Your menu is a message, and while it may not be personalized for every customer reading it, you can tailor your descriptions to your audience — as long as you understand who that audience is.


From gen-z diners looking for healthy and sustainable menu options to millennials who love to explore new flavors and cuisines, diners span all kinds of demographics. Each of those demographics has its own way of talking, absorbing information, and determining where they want to eat.

The next step to optimizing your menu for online ordering success? Food photography!

The only thing better than describing your menu items is offering customers actual photographs. The best scenario is pairing excellent descriptions with equally fantastic photos. Studies show that people only remember about 10% of the information they read, but if you combine that information with a corresponding image, recall rates jump to 65%

At Grubhub, we’ve seen how impactful food photography can be for restaurant’s takeout and delivery sales. According to Grubhub research, restaurants with photos in their menu received 70% more online orders and 65% higher takeout and delivery sales. 

Are you worried about finding and vetting a professional food photographer? When you partner with Grubhub for Restaurants, we’ll send a professional photographer to your restaurant to take incredible photos of your food — all for free.

Optimize your menu for takeout and delivery success with Grubhub for Restaurants

Your menu is an extension of your restaurant’s brand. Mouthwatering menu descriptions aren’t just window dressing; they’re your most significant opportunity to engage consumers and get them interested in your product. Add photography into the mix, and you’re silently selling every single dish on your menu without saying a word.

We’re here to help you optimize your online ordering menu for success. When you partner with 

Grubhub for restaurants, you’ll receive a dedicated Account Advisor, a restaurant success expert, invested in your restaurant’s success on the Grubhub platform. Not only will they schedule your free professional photoshoot, but they’ll also connect you with internal experts who can provide you menu consultation services designed to optimize your menu for takeout and delivery success.

Ready to get started? Sign up today! 

Managing your Grubhub menu within the Grubhub for Restaurants platform

Did you know your menu plays the most significant role in determining your restaurant’s success on Grubhub?

It’s essential to make it easier for diners to order from you by including mouth-wasting menu descriptions and menu photos. In our experience, restaurants that follow menu best practices, such as adding pictures and descriptions, receive as much as 70% more orders and 65% higher sales compared to restaurants that do not. 

To help you get started with your menu within your Grubhub for Restaurants account, we’ve put together this introductory guide that highlights the basics of managing your menu, including adjusting or updating menu items make adjustments, and add menu photos. 

If you are a current Grubhub Restaurant partner interested in learning more about managing your menu, please sign in to your Grubhub for Restaurant’s account and navigate to the Help Center. 

Not a Grubhub restaurant partner? Sign up with Grubhub for Restaurants today to access hungry diners ready to order takeout and delivery from your restaurant.

Please click on any of the links below to jump to a specific section

Managing your Grubhub menu within the Grubhub for Restaurants portal

When you log into your Grubhub for Restaurant account, navigate to the lefthand sidebar on desktop, or the three-bar icon in mobile, to access the ‘Menu’ screen.

From your menu screen, you can easily find your menu items using the search bar located at the top right of your screen. In addition, you can view the following:

Sections

Help differentiate and organize the various offerings on your Grubhub menu, such as desserts, drinks, and different food types. When diners view your restaurant, they use sections to navigate through your menu.

Modifiers

give your customers the option to customize their orders. Examples include dressing options, topping choices, extra add-ons, or even the option to remove ingredients.

Schedules

 Designate what times of day or days of the week menu items are available. 

Sizes

 Within your menu, you can include:

  • Drink sizes (such as 8 oz, 16 oz) 
  • Pizza sizes (14”, 18”, 21”) 
  • Or entree portions (half or full)

How to add or update menu items within your Grubhub for Restaurants account

To add menu items, please follow the following steps:

  • Log into your Grubhub for Restaurants account
  • Select the Menu tab from the left sidebar or the icon on mobile.
  • On the left hand of the page, select a menu Selection, and then the + add item button on the right-hand side of the page.
  • Fill out the details of your new menu item in the Add New Item window using the Info & Modifiers and Availability & Labels tab.

For more information on adding menu items, please visit the Help Center within your Grubhub for Restaurants account. 

You can also update menu items and adjust menu prices from the Menu tab in your Grubhub for Restaurants account.

How to update a menu item within your Grubhub for Restaurants account

  • Make sure you are logged in to your Grubhub for Restaurants account.
  • navigate to your Menu in the righthand dashboard
  • Find the menu item you want to edit by typing it in the search field within the menu dashboard or by selecting the Section the menu item is located within.
Screenshot of the search field you can access from your menu dashboard
Screenshot of the menu sections dropdown within your menu dashboard
  • Select a menu item to edit the item details
screenshot of a menu item within Grubhub for Restaurants portal

From Info and Modifiers tab, you can update:

    • Item name

    • Description

    • Menu section

    • Base price

    • Photo

    • Availability

    • Modifiers

From the Settings and Labels tab, you can update: 

  • Item availability schedule
  • Labels

Adding photos to your Grubhub Menu

Adding photos to your menu attracts more customers to your menu and drives more orders. With menu photos, you can make a great first impression by showing customers what your restaurant’s all about with beautiful photography of your signature dishes, boost sales, and enjoy greater advertising opportunities with Grubhub for Restaurants. 

When adding photos to your menu, whether it is a Header, profile, or logo image, it’s important to understand how it will appear.

How your photos appear on Grubhub infographic

How to add photos to your menu

  • Log in to your Grubhub for Restaurants account and navigate to the Menu tab from the left sidebar on desktop or the menu dropdown on mobile.
  • Select the menu item you would like to add a food photo to and click the Add Photo icon
  • Once you select the photo icon you will have the option to either upload an image or import from Instagram.
screenshot of popup
To upload photos you will need to agree to the terms and conditions
    • Make sure to agree to the terms and conditions
    • Choose the photo you would like to use. 
    • The chosen photo will be in review while our automated system. After processing, the system will signify the status of the photo as one of the following:
  • Approved: image passed system criteria
  • In review: image is currently in the system processing
  • Rejected: Image did not pass system criteria

Our system checks images based on these criteria: 

  • Size/resolution
    •  Images must be at least 200×200 pixels.
  • Content
    • All images except for the logo should be photos of food. Photos of coupons, weekly specials, or restaurant interior/exterior are not accepted.
  • Text/phone number
    •  Images shouldn’t have text or words on them, including the name of the dish, coupons, or special deal information. Logos cannot have the restaurant phone number included.
  • Safe search
    •  Images cannot contain images flagged for adult content, violence, or medical (i.e. gore/blood).
  • Copyright
    •  Images must not return matching URLs from reverse Google image search.

To learn how to add photos from your desktop, mobile, or Instagram account, please sign in to your Grubhub for Restaurants account to access this help center article. 

How to incorporate locally sourced food into your menu

More and more diners care about a restaurant’s sustainability practices. According to the 2020 National Restaurant Association Industry Report, 76% of adults said they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally sourced food. If your restaurant is not tapping into the locally sourced food movement, you may be missing out on potential customers.  

4 ways your restaurant can incorporate locally sourced food into your menu

Here are four tips for incorporating locally sourced ingredients into your menu without breaking the bank.

1. Start slow and set realistic goals

Sourcing local ingredients can be higher-cost due to working with small suppliers, which means switching your menu overnight to feature locally sourced ingredients can be costly. Help ease your restaurant’s transition by setting goals within reach, such as purchasing a small amount of locally sourced ingredients or only purchasing locally sourced food that is close in cost to your traditional ingredients. 

It might also make sense for you to do a test run incorporating locally sourced ingredients into your menu. Consider featuring a special on your menu or even hosting a weekly local foods night that offers a special entre entirely made from local ingredients.  

Offering locally sourced food for sale within your restaurant in a retail model is also a great way to introduce the concept to your customer base.  When indoor dining was shut down in New York during the height of the pandemic, The Council Cafe transformed their restaurant storefront into a local market featuring locally produced bread from Naira Bread in New York. 

The Council Cafe’s local market supported other local businesses and made locally sourced food accessible to their customer base.

2. Use locally-sourced food to fuel your seasonal menu items

Sticker shock is often enough to keep many restaurant owners from incorporating locally sourced ingredients into their menus, but it doesn’t have to be. By purchasing in-season produce, you can include local ingredients that are both more affordable and higher quality. 

Lighthouse, a farm-to-table restaurant in New York City, has found success in leveraging locally sourced ingredients in their seasonal dishes. They even put their organic food waste to work, by using vegetable and fruit scraps to make compost for their herb garden, which is then used to create their own in-house spice mixes.

While buying locally sourced food can seem expensive at first, being strategic with your menu and utilizing in-season ingredients can help decrease the cost of locally sourced food. 

3. Seek out sustainable seafood from local fishers

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, “fishing is one of the most significant drivers of declines in ocean wildlife populations.” While the actual act of fishing is not terrible for the environment, overfishing, which is when fish are removed from the water faster than the species can replenish, is detrimental to our oceans. 

Taking the extra step to seek out sustainable seafood options from local fishmongers is not only the right move for the environment but can also help your restaurant reach new diners. According to a recent Marine Stewardship Council survey, 48% of North American shoppers are willing to pay more for seafood from a certified sustainable fishery.

Fish, a sustainable seafood restaurant based in Sausalito, California, has become a success by creating inventive dishes that feature sustainability caught season. By purchasing directly from local fishers, Fish can confidently communicate to their customers the exact path the seafood took from the water to their plate.

4. Build relationships with local farmers and suppliers

Buying locally sourced food and ingredients can seem daunting at first, but there are many resources available to help connect you to local farmers and suppliers. Visit your local farmers market to meet local farmers or network with farm-to-table restaurants in your area to learn which local suppliers they’ve had success with in the past.  

Once you’ve found local farmers and suppliers to work with, focus on establishing a meaningful relationship with them. Small gestures, such as thanking your suppliers and keeping them updated on any changes within your restaurant, can go a long way toward showing suppliers that you value them as a business partner.

The more time you invest in building these relationships, the greater chance you’ll have to receive the ingredients you need. You may even enjoy some unexpected benefits such as the first pick of produce or discounts for your continued loyalty.

Grow your customer base with locally sourced food

Tapping into the local food movement is a great way to grow your customer base and positively impact the environment. Using locally sourced ingredients does not need to be an expensive or time-consuming task for your restaurant. Start by developing relationships with local farmers and fishers, creating seasonal dishes, and setting realistic sustainability goals for your restaurant model. 

Are you interested in learning more restaurant sustainability tips? Check out 10 restaurant sustainability tips that can help you reduce food waste and improve your restaurant’s profit margins. 

Grubhub customers are hungry for restaurants that feature fresh ingredients and  sustainable practices. Signup to become a Grubhub restaurant partner today.

How to add alcohol to your Grubhub menu

Alcohol is a great way to increase the average order value of your delivery and takeout orders on the Grubhub platform. 

Adding alcohol to your Grubhub menu can help increase the average order value by $14-$15 for orders with alcohol. In addition, restaurants that offer alcohol items on their menu can see 8% of orders containing an alcohol menu item. 

Please note, alcohol delivery on Grubhub is only available in specific markets. If you are a Grubhub for Restaurant’s partner interested in adding alcohol to your menu, it’s essential to speak with your account advisor to learn if your market allows alcohol sales and help ensure you add alcohol to your account appropriately. To learn more, please sign in to your Grubhub for Restaurant account. 

Are you a restaurant interested in reaching new customers and building your takeout and delivery business? Sign up with Grubhub for Restaurants today!

Feel free to click any of the links below to jump to a specific section within this guide to Grubhub alcohol delivery

Grubhub for Restaurant’s alcohol-selling guidelines

Ready to get started with adding alcohol to your Grubhub menu? Alcohol delivery on Grubhub is only available in certain markets. Please talk to your account advisor if you are interested in adding alcohol to your menu. 

In order to sell Alcohol on the Grubhub platform please be aware your restaurant must adhere to the following guidelines.

Alcohol packaging guidelines

Alcohol should be packed in a sealed spill-proof container, in a separate bag from the diner’s food order. If the alcohol items cannot be delivered, packing them separately from the food will allow the driver to deliver the food on its own. You are responsible for ensuring that all alcohol is packaged and labeled in accordance with applicable laws in your jurisdiction.

Drivers checking ID guidelines

Grubhub drivers are instructed to confirm that a diner is of age by reviewing their government ID. If you are a self-delivery restaurant, you are responsible for ensuring your drivers are validating diner age prior to delivery.

Alcohol returns guidelines

If the diner is underage, does not have a valid ID, is intoxicated, or otherwise unavailable, drivers are instructed to return the alcohol to you and you must accept the return. Please ensure that your premises remain accessible to delivery drivers for a reasonable period of time following attempted delivery.

Liquor License Requirements

Your restaurant must have a valid liquor license in order to sell alcohol. Please make sure your license is up-to-date and is in accordance with local regulations. You are responsible for ensuring that there are no conditions on your license that prevent you from listing alcoholic beverages on your Grubhub menu.

Please note: In many jurisdictions, licensees remain liable for actions of third-party service providers, including delivery service providers. Grubhub, however, cannot provide legal advice regarding your rights, obligations and liabilities under your liquor license. If you have any concerns about your potential liability, please consider seeking independent legal advice.

Direct Deposit Requirements for alcohol sales on Grubhub for Restaurants

To continue selling alcohol with Grubhub, you must be signed up for direct deposit through a checking account. Our auto-setup process is straightforward and should take just a few minutes:

  1. log into Grubhub for Restaurants (GFR) using your ADMIN credentials (username is your registered email address)
  2. Select Financials > Current Balance from the bottom of the left-hand side menu
  3. You should be prompted to “Set up direct deposit”

Alcohol Sales via Stripe

All alcohol sales are now processed via Stripe, a secure online payments platform used by millions of companies worldwide. You must have a Stripe Connect account to continue to sell alcohol on Grubhub. The Stripe Connect setup process is fast and straightforward, and we walk you through it below. After your Stripe Connect account is activated, you won’t experience any changes to fees, payments, or the timing of those payments.  

To learn how to set up stripe, please log into your Grubhub for Restaurants account and navigate to the Help center on the lower lefthand corner of your dashboard.

How to properly label alcohol items within your Grubhub for Restaurants menu

Restaurants that want to sell alcohol on the Grubhub platform are responsible for ensuring that all alcohol items on their menu are properly tagged so that drivers are informed there is alcohol in the order and know to check ID on delivery.

How to tag alcohol menu items on your Grubhub menu

Navigate to your menu in Grubhub for Restaurants and click on the alcoholic beverage items:

  • Click the Settings and Labels tab to confirm that the Alcohol and Drink labels are attached to your alcoholic beverage menu items:

If your alcoholic beverage items are not tagged correctly or if you wish to add additional alcoholic beverage items to your menu, please send a menu update request to  [email protected].

Please note, these guidelines are subject to change. For the latest alcohol selling guidelines please consult the Help Center within the Grubhub for Restaurants platform.

Boost Deliveries And Test New Menu Concepts With Virtual Restaurants

Food delivery is predicted to account for 40% of total restaurant sales by 2020, and has become what one restaurant analyst refers to as a “driving force in the restaurant industry.”

One way restaurants are responding to this rapidly growing demand for food delivery is with a relatively new type of food service: virtual restaurants.

Learn what virtual restaurants are, how they work, and why they may help you experiment with a new brand of cuisine while growing your delivery sales.

Demystifying The Virtual Restaurant

Also known as virtual kitchens or delivery-only restaurants, the virtual restaurant concept is actually quite simple.

They are delivery-only operations that accept orders solely online—through apps and websites like Grubhub. With no need for a brick and mortar location, the “restaurant” only exists online.

Restaurateurs can launch a virtual restaurant to experiment with a new menu concept, brand a subset of existing menu items, or capture unmet customer demands for particular food in the market. In this way, restaurants can open up a whole new “restaurant” without any additional expenditures on staff or rent.

Since all orders are placed digitally and delivered, customers don’t know (or care) that the restaurant is “virtual.” They may even be excited to try new concepts if they are put out by their favorite local restaurant. Their only concern is that the food tastes great, is easy to order, and is delivered to their door.

Paving The Way To Your Own Virtual Restaurant

The process of creating and launching a virtual restaurant is fairly simple, and can be creatively enriching and exciting as well!

  1. Choose Your Cuisine. Your menu can expand your existing offerings or be based on a subset of items from your current menu. You can even test out an entirely different concept—one that may even be completely different than your physical restaurant. With data provided by Grubhub, you can even pinpoint what type of food customers are searching for, but not finding, in your delivery boundary, and create a menu that fills that gap.
  2. Create Your Brand. You can create your own brand assets like a new name, logo, photos and descriptions, or utilize Grubhub’s assistance to populate your virtual restaurant online and appeal to your virtual restaurant’s ideal customer.
  3. Launch Your Virtual Restaurant. Your virtual restaurant instantly becomes visible to thousands of hungry delivery customers. And, they can easily order from any device through an app or online platform.  

Making A Virtual Restaurant Work For You

There are many exciting advantages to opening a virtual restaurant in addition to your physical restaurant.

  • Obtain High Rewards For Low Investment. Virtual restaurants are efficient and save money because they grow your business without increasing overhead costs.
  • Grow Delivery Sales. You can open up new channels of revenue using the same amount of staff, space and resources by operating one, or multiple, virtual restaurants out of one physical kitchen.
  • Reach New Customers. By branching out with a new concept, you can reach an entirely different customer base.
  • Innovate and Lead. With little risk, you are free to experiment and test out what works to create successful concepts and satisfy needs in your particular market. Also, being able to change your menu on the fly without updating printed menus or signage allows you to be flexible and creative.
  • Increase Digital Presence. By living online, your brand will get valuable exposure through the Grubhub website and mobile app.

Whether you want to increase delivery sales or experiment with a new restaurant concept, a virtual restaurant can help you reach your goals with low risk and high rewards.

Learn more about opening a virtual restaurant.

Ready to reach new customers and grow your business with Grubhub? Sign up today!

Steps to Master Menu Pricing Basics

Pricing menu items can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope: trying to balance food costs with quantity all while teetering on a thin profit margin.By taking the following sure-footed steps, you will be able to create prices that appeal to your target demographic while maximizing your profits.

1.Determine Food Cost Percentage

Determining your food cost percentage helps you understand your profits at a glance, so it’s the best place to begin. Food cost percentages are food costs calculated as percentages of your gross sales. Use this formula to determine your food cost percentage: Food Costs ÷ Food Sales x 100 = Food cost %

For example, if at the end of a time period, you used $3,000 of inventory (food costs), with a total of $10,000 in food sales, your food cost percentage would be 30%:

Food Costs ($3,000) ÷ Food Sales ($10,000) x 100 = 30%

Your goal should be to have a food cost percentage between 25-30%, which is the average for well-performing restaurants, with fine dining establishments reaching up to 35% If your percentage is high, try lowering it by negotiating better prices with distributors, using seasonal ingredients, controlling portions, and re-designing your menu to maximize profits.

2. Use Food Cost Percentage To Price Menu

While there are various pricing strategies, using the food cost percentage formula is a good start because you are gauging profitability based on hard costs, which also helps determine if adjustments should be made to improve your percentage.

  • Tally up the costs of all the ingredients that make up each menu item individually
  • Divide that cost by your existing food cost percentage, or your desired food cost percentage
  • Round off the price

For example: $5.00 (Food Cost for Chicken Piccata over Pasta) ÷ 30% (Food Cost Percentage) = $16.99 (rounded up from $16.66).

In this case, the food cost percentage is on target, the decision to round up or down can be influenced by factors discussed below.

3. Know Your Target Demographic and Pricing Boundaries

Now that you have a general idea of how your menu items should be priced, there are other factors to consider.

Target Demographic

Your prices should align with your brand, and your customers’ expectations based on marketing, level of service, type of restaurant, and the quality of your food. For instance, quick service and fast casual restaurants tend to have lower prices than sit-down establishments since they require restaurateurs to spend less on service.

5. Consider Indirect Costs

While food cost percentages help guide your pricing decisions, it’s important to also add indirect costs into the equation. These are costs outside of ingredients that add to the value of your menu items such as overhead expenses, labor, etc.

For instance, a dish that requires advanced techniques or longer prep time should reflect a higher price. You want to make sure that the prices you establish match the service and culinary levels necessary to create and serve the dish.

6. Understand Competitors’ Prices

It’s important to be aware of the prices that your competitors are charging for similar menu items. This is part of the competition pricing method which offers three choices:

  • Price your item the same as your competitor’s price
  • Price your item a bit lower than your competitor to lure in customers hungry for a better deal.
  • Price your item a bit higher to lure in customers hungry for better quality

While it is always a good idea to know what your competitor’s prices are, it is more important to do what is right for your restaurant. Be sure you don’t price yourself out of a profit or underprice at the expense of quality in an attempt to attract your competitors’ customers.

7. Strike The Perfect Balance

Have a good range of lower-to-higher priced menu items. This will help balance out unavoidable market fluctuations that are due to circumstances out of your control yet affect your inventory and bottom line.

Another way to add some stability to your menu is to have less expensive items that can be bought in bulk such as pasta, potatoes, etc.

Be sure to use appropriately-sized plates that match your portion size and include those lesser-priced items to balance out higher-priced ingredients.

These seven methods will help you master the menu pricing basics and give you more control over your bottom line.

 

Ready to get started with Grubhub for Restaurants? Sign up today!