Creating a Pub Food Menu (page 2)

Finally be honest! Make sure prices are clearly marked and that there are no hidden extras (such as sauces for steaks or side vegetables) and ensure that menu descriptions of ingredients and cooking terms are true and don’t mislead the customer. Under the Trades Description Acts of 1968 and 1972 it is a criminal offence to give incorrect descriptions of dishes. Be particularly careful about using words such as British, home-made, fresh or organic (click here for Food Descriptions advice). Local trading standard offices can provide advice on correct wording. If a dish is going to take a particularly long time to prepare then advise the customer on the menu, after all time is money (theirs is just as valuable as yours!)

For most pubs you will expect to offer a selection of sandwiches or baguettes (bagels are a great bread alternative), “light bites” or sharing plates; main courses and puddings. I would limit each section to maximum of 10 choices per section. You can always offer “meal deals” as I have done such as a pie and mash night, sausage and mash night, chilli night or curry night where a drink is included in the price.

Once you’ve chosen your dishes, priced up your menu and written it you will, of course, want to get it designed and printed. Two main designs come to mind – those with photographs of dishes and those without. For my mind menus with photographs or other representations of your dishes are to be avoided for one simple reason. Whilst a “picture paints a thousand words” may be true, I believe that photos (either stock photos from an agency or ones you’ve taken yourself) on menus are a bad idea. They can create a false expectation in your customers – think of burger chains and the images they use – have you ever had a burger that looked like the one on the menu?

Whichever you choose, you will need to get it designed and then printed. There are innumerable design houses out there, some pubcos offer a complete design and print service, however their charges are not necessarily the best. Look for a graphic designer in your area, for instance I use ,that way you can liaise directly on the design and ensure that you get what you want. As for printing there is a huge choice as well, you might think that a local printer would be the cheapest but this is not necessarily true.

Finally, brands work.  Apart from a few categories, brand is king in creating consumer differentiation.  Intuitively, this would not translate to food menu items but in the latest food research from CGA Strategy (March 2013) they actually found that branded pies (e.g. steak and ale with a branded ale) sell twice as much as their non-branded counterparts!

Top Tips … nothing will spoil your carefully crafted menu more than errors such as spelling mistakes. Many’s the time I have designed menus (and written such things as press releases or created flyers for the pub) and not spotted often glaring mistakes. Hence I always send copy to a proof reader to ensure that mistakes are caught before printing. I view this additional expenditure as sensible as it has often saved me many hundreds of pounds getting incorrect menus etc re-printed! You’ll find proof-reading services such as offer a very reasonable and professional service.

In April 2013 sales of Chinese Take-Away food exceeded that Great British staple of Fish and Chips … CGA Strategy reported these sales of international food in this Market Intelligence Report

Read this article for the psychological importance of plating up your meals to enhance your customers’ satisfaction with their meals.


Continue reading … page 1

Back to Kitchen & Food