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A great menu is the cornerstone of every restaurant business — it attracts new customers and keeps regular diners coming back for more. Creating a menu can be complicated, but once you establish a strong foundation, you have the flexibility to introduce new restaurant menu ideas. 

Not sure where to start? Use food holidays for inspiration. These fun events, which are popular on social media, are a way to get diners excited about your menu. With options ranging from National Grilled Cheese Day to National Donut Day, it’s a breeze to find a holiday that suits your restaurant’s style and cuisine.

Download the National Food Holiday calendar

What makes a great menu?

Before you start adding new dishes, it’s important to lock down the restaurant menu design. Use these menu design ideas to create a layout that’s readable, usable, and appealing:

  • Consider how customers use the menu. Customers don’t read entire restaurant menus in detail; they scan the document to find a section that looks interesting. It’s only then that they focus on individual items. To help them find what they need, organize the menu into clear, well-defined sections. Because most people start at the top of the page and scan down, it’s a good idea to put your most popular and profitable dishes first. If they don’t fall into a neat category, simply create a section called “House Specialties” or “Customer Favorites.”
  • Include pictures. Adding food photography to a restaurant menu requires you to walk a fine line. You want to include enough to pique customers’ interest and give them an idea of presentation and portion size — but not so many that they take over the menu. Illustrations can also add visual variety.
  • Use bold text strategically. If you include prices on your restaurant menu, you might be tempted to put them in bold. However, this strategy tends to put the focus on price rather than the item itself. A better option is to use bold text to highlight the names of the dishes; that way, customers’ eyes will be drawn there instead.
  • Organize the menu. A clean, manageable menu design makes it easy for customers to navigate your menu. Separate sections with boxes, headers, or line dividers. For readability, limit yourself to two or three fonts. Too many contrasting styles can make a menu feel chaotic and confusing. And finally, don’t be afraid to use white space — it makes each page feel elegant and accessible.

Keep in mind that great restaurant menu descriptions are just as important as the menu design. Ensure each one is as evocative and appealing as the food itself.

Tying food holidays into your menu

National food holidays are days that celebrate a specific type of food. Some are highly specific — National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day and National Hot Buttered Rum Day, for example. Others, including National Almond Day and World Nutella Day, are dedicated to a single ingredient. The options are many and varied. In fact, you can probably find a relevant food holiday for every week of the year.

The trick? Finding ways to tie the holiday to your latest menu idea.

  • Find holidays that align with your cuisine. If you run a burger restaurant, National Burger Day (May 28) is the perfect time to highlight your best-selling burgers. On National Garlic Day (April 19), an Italian restaurant could create a garlic-lover’s bundle with garlic cheese bread and roasted-garlic pasta.
  • Create new dishes. Keep customers on their toes by offering limited-availability dishes for a food holiday. This is a great opportunity to let your chef shine — they can pick a holiday and create a dish that aligns with the topic. Take beautiful photos and promote the item in the week leading up to the big day, but make sure to emphasize that it’s available for one day only. This strategy builds a sense of urgency and encourages customers to stop by or order online.
  • Fill gaps in your marketing calendar. Food holidays are a great way to spice up the marketing slow seasons between holidays and seasonal events. Don’t have anything to promote between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day? For National Banana Cream Pie Day on March 2, create a marketing campaign that promotes your baker’s tasty treats.
  • Launch a seasonal menu. Introduce customers to your latest seasonal menu on a food holiday. Choose a day that’s most relevant to the menu. For example, National Picnic Day (April 23) is an ideal time to introduce summer menu ideas or catering menus inspired by classic picnic foods. Or hype up your fall cocktail menu on September 30, National Mulled Cider Day. The holiday acts like a hook; it’s a memorable concept that captures customers’ attention.
  • Highlight a local supplier. Do you work with local farmers and vendors? Promote their contributions on a relevant food holiday. Days such as Potato Day (August 19) and National Egg Day (June 3) work for farmers, while National Sourdough Bread Day (April 1) is an opportunity to celebrate your partner bakery. Feature menu items that include their foods in social media posts, your email newsletter, and the restaurant website. Your partners will appreciate the publicity, and you’ll remind customers that by ordering from your restaurant menu, they’re supporting local food producers.

No matter how you use national food holidays to spark new restaurant menu ideas, marketing is key. Promote the new dishes across a variety of channels to build awareness and enthusiasm and get customers in the door.

Attract more customers with Grubhub

Chances are, your delivery customers are just as interested in your latest restaurant menu ideas as in-house diners. With Grubhub for Restaurants, it’s easy to reach them — there are 33+ million hungry customers on the platform, each ready to find their next favorite meal. Get their attention with menu ideas connected to national food holidays; it’s an efficient way to build awareness and create a reputation as a dynamic, ever-changing restaurant.

Ready to try it out? Get started with Grubhub today.