Popular August 1, 2022 6 min read

Limited Menu Success: How Restaurants With Smaller Menus Grow

Limited Menu Success: How Restaurants With Smaller Menus Grow

If you are a restaurant owner or manager, you already know that the pressures on your industry are insane in the best of times…and this is most definitely NOT the best of times. You can’t find staff, you’re having a hard time ordering guacamole, you need to raise wages AGAIN…the challenges are simply endless. What if there was a way to reduce your expenses while still turning the same profit and building a better brand?

Allow us to introduce you to the joys of a smaller menu.

Can You Standardize Your Food?

Having a smaller menu comes with many benefits. Chief among them? Standardization. Bigger chains are going with smaller menus for a variety of reasons, and the ability to create a more standard menu is one of the biggest ones. The truth is simple: If you shrink your menu, you can formalize your cooking process, making it more efficient. By working with the same ingredients over and over, you put yourself in a position where you can find efficiencies and identify better ways to save money. Further, your chefs and line cooks will improve at what they do.

Culling your menu is not a process that you can take lightly. It requires an in-depth examination of your sales and multiple conversations with your staff and customers. However, doing so — and doing so in a way that leaves your most popular and on-brand food on the menu — may work very well and create a much more delicious product for your customers. If you keep what you are best known for, you are far more likely to keep customers who are happy and willing to come back. As such, a smaller menu steers customers to what they like the most, making them more comfortable and more likely to turn into repeat customers.

What About Food Waste?

Every restaurant is painfully aware of today’s fundamental truth: Supply chain issues are snarling up food delivery lines, causing food shortages, and making it harder for you to get the items you desperately need for your restaurant. If this is the case for you, smaller menus may be tricky.

However, let’s turn that thought on its head for a moment. Think about this for a second. Every restaurant has to order enough food to meet anticipated demand. It’s a guessing game, and it certainly can be difficult. What happens when you order too much food, and you have to throw it out? Food waste. Wasting food in such a manner is a miserable circumstance: Food waste means that you are, quite literally, throwing your money and your product away.

If you shrink your menu, you put yourself in a position where food waste can become much less of a problem. The reason for this is simple: You’ll only order food that’s in high demand, and you’ll probably have a better idea of how much food to order. After all, most food waste comes from having ingredients for products that are less used because they are for menu items that aren’t as popular. So the solution here is simple: Just cut those items from your menu.

A smaller menu can create even more significant problems, as you may not have room to add a great dish you just discovered. Instead of viewing a smaller menu as limiting, view it as a quality enhancement. Do you REALLY have something that can be a great new addition to your restaurant and customers? Now, you have to test the food to determine if that is the case and if it meets the high bar necessitated by a slot on your menu. In this manner, a smaller menu can be a movement towards quality control.

Can A Smaller Menu Enhance Your Marketing Position?

Smaller menus do much more than make your restaurant less expensive to run. If done right, they also enhance your marketing position.

Think about it: All major brands and restaurants are known for a few essential items, or at least items that fit into an easy-to-understand genre. As a customer, when you think of these brands, you are more likely to think of the foods these brands want you to think of. This process makes the brand image much more cohesive and consistent. It also means that customers are far more likely to think of your restaurant if they are in the mood for that particular style of food.

Again, this shows the need to give your menu and sales information a complex, data-driven look. The last thing you want to do is remove trendy items or do anything to anger a select set of customers. Raw sales data may not be enough when deciding what menu items to deduct to improve your marketing. You’ll have to dig deep into what sells, what drives other sales, and what products do best at certain times of the day or certain days of the week. Thankfully, the right software can help you with this process.

How Can A Smaller Menu Streamline Your Kitchen?

From managing your kitchen to finding talent who can work in your restaurant, staffing is already tough. To keep talent — and to use your skill to the maximum capacity — you have to ensure that you keep your kitchen operations as streamlined as possible.

This is another potential benefit of a smaller menu. By removing foods, you may be able to mothball specific equipment, procedures, or cooking work completely. This more efficient operation can save you time and allow you to limit staff on a shift or redeploy them for other resources. Furthermore, it can give your staff time to perfect other recipes, ultimately allowing them to make a better product and keep your customers happier.

Remember, a smaller menu may be just one piece of this puzzle if you want restaurant success. Streamlining your kitchen is essential, but so is streamlining your overall operations. That’s why your restaurant should consider TipHaus. At TipHaus, we have automated software that lets you quickly get your tips to your wait staff. You can use this information to securely and accurately get this info to your team, ensuring that they are happy and paid fairly. Do you want more information on the tools that TipHaus can offer and how easily we can integrate with your operations? Contact us today.

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