What’s the Ideal Menu Size?

Have you ever looked at your menu and wondered if it’s too large, or perhaps too small? By having an appropriately sized menu with a layout that makes sense, you could be making that much more money. Join us as we explore why having the largest menu isn’t the best course of action for your business.

If we look at a menu from a customer’s perspective, a large menu can be overwhelming and will take longer to go over each item in order to decide what they’d like. In addition to this, a larger menu can confuse customers depending on the layout, leaving them to take even more time to figure it out, or having their server explain it. This in turn affects the business’ ability to serve more customers in turning tables.

From a business’ perspective, the larger the menu size, the more inventory you have to carry in order to create all these dishes. This is not ideal, because if there is a lack of customers ordering a certain item, that inventory will go to waste, resulting in a large amount of wasted cash flow and potential profits. The slowed turnover of tables will also cut into profits, as there will be less revenue coming in. So in this line of thought, why do some restaurants continue to have large menus?

For some restaurants, having a larger menu means they offer a wider variety of options to a greater number of people. This too, can be a dangerous way to think and operate, as with anything, if you try to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to no one. It’s difficult enough for restaurants to master a smaller menu, so by expanding your menu, any increased quality you had on that smaller menu would be spread out across the larger menu.

Are there select circumstances where a larger menu works? Yes, though they are rare. In order to be truly successful with a large menu, you need to have a few key components for it to work: a large enough customer base, the foot traffic to justify it, and last but certainly not least, the labour capacity to meet the requirements of such a menu. If you can’t prepare that style of menu on that scale, then what’s the point in trying?

What can we conclude from this? Your menu size should match your foot traffic, potential market size, and the number of staff you have, along with their skill potential. By having this correct fit, you’ll have a greater ability to turn tables, and make money in the long run.