Why Is Menu Planning Essential
Menu planning plays a vital part in the operation of any restaurant or institution engaged in feeding a group of people. A good menu ties together the interests of the consumer, the management and the worker. In order to under stand the significance of menu planning we must realize that restaurant business is both, retailing and manufacturing, as well as selling.
The kitchen is the factory whose products are the various items on the menu. The dining room is the salesroom or the store where the products of the kitchen are displayed, either by means of the printed menu, the buffet table or the cafeteria counter.
To harmonize the interests of the kitchen and the dining rooms the task of a menu maker is a position of strategic responsibility. First and foremost he must please the customer. On the other hand he must consider the cooks and the servers, who themselves have a pride in the food they prepare and serve. The principles of good nutrition must not be violated, and yet the menu planner must account for and be happy with the financial statement.
Menu planning is not a task that you can delegate to just anyone – a background in the food service is essential. It is therefore a job that should be done by the Chef or the Catering Manager, or preferably both.
Menu reveal personality; the more interesting the personality, the more interesting the menu. The task must be approached with enthusiasm, with a healthy enjoyment of food, not in quantity but in quality. The menu planner must have discrimination and flair for combination and for new foods.
It is easy to recognize menus that are made out casually at the last minute by one who does not care too much for the task and who approaches it with a ” let’s get over it and done with ” attitude. Management should therefore never be to busy for this very important task.
Essentials of a Good Menu
A good menu should work for the customer, the employees who prepare the food, the management of the food service establishment. If you fulfil the requirements outlined as follows, you will have a good healthy business in your establishment.
From the Customer’s point of view:
1. Is pleasing to read. In a restaurant this means an attractive cover, clean, light-coloured paper, well-organized layout, easily-read type.
2. Appeals with temptingly, but not extravagantly, worded descriptions of the food.
3. Offers them the food they like at what they consider a fair price.
4. Gives them something different in variety, garnish, or service.
5. Stresses out seasonal or local foods or even favourites.
6. Offers enough choice to be satisfying, not to much as to be confusing or time consuming.
7. Sparkles personality.
From the Employees point of view:
1. Distributes the workload evenly over the various departments.
2. Distributes the preparation load evenly over the equipment.
3. Contributes to the general morale of the kitchen and dining room staff.
From the Management’s point of view:
1. Results in profit.
2. Achieves personal satisfaction.
3. Contributes to the well-being of the guests.
4. Makes the work flow smoothly.
5. Meets the budget.
6. Uses leftovers.
7. Increase the business.
Menu planning is a complicated matter and the beginner should study the subject extensively before attempting a menu plan. The menu gives the operator an opportunity to exercise system as well as ingenuity and artistry. The menu should have new items introduced continually and unpopular items with-drawn. Menu planning without system means chaos; without imagination and innovation. A rotating menu is a good way to attain balance and eliminates the hours of work needed to construct a new menu each day. Planning menu involves the following steps:
1. A careful study of sales information must be made so that the menu reflects the desires of the guests. Some operators use a copy of the menu and as each item is sold, a check is made beside the item. Over a short period of time analysis of sales will tell what the customers want. The study will enable the operator to pinpoint and push the popular menu items and can sequent increase his volume or his business.
2. Once the most popular items have been determined, a method of rotating the menu must be decided upon. No matter how much customers like for example breaded veal cutlets, they do not want to find this item on the menu every day or every Wednesday. The menu should be limited and varied. To accomplish this on any particular day, most operators base their sequence of menu offering on a even number of days that is not multiple of seven. For example, their basic menus are planned 10, 16, 22 or even more days in advance. Each day’s menu is different. In the case of a 10 day menu plan – if the first day’s menu was offered on a Monday, it would take 12 weeks before the same menu was again offered on Monday.
3. After operators learn what the more popular menu items are, they must next figure out the basic rotating pattern to even the load on the kitchen equipment and personnel. For example, a menu of all fried items or all baked items would properly.
4. The day of the week must be considered. Friday – fish; Monday – is less volume; Sunday – family patrons; holidays, the time of the year, the weather, and the market are also factors to be considered, as the availability and capacity of refrigerators.