Skip navigation
restaurant-menu.png ijeab/iStock/Getty Images Plus
Menu reengineering begins with assessing your “as is” menu. It concludes with an optimized “to be” menu and the strategic layouts and architecture for your menu communications tools, including your mobile app, website, menuboard, hand-held, and any other menu communications tools you may have.

MenuWise: How to maximize your restaurant’s revenue and profits

4 steps to menu reengineering

Menu reengineering is a business strategy and systematic process for building a robust restaurant menu (the food & beverages that you offer). It involves analyzing and redesigning your menu to increase sales and profits, drive operational efficiencies, and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The 4-step menu reengineering process

The process begins with assessing your “as is” menu. It concludes with an optimized “to be” menu and the strategic layouts and architecture for your menu communications tools, including your mobile app, website, menuboard, hand-held, and any other menu communications tools you may have.

Step 1:  Menu assessment

  • Determine your current menu strengths and weaknesses, item by item. Then, list key criteria and rate each menu item on these. Examples include sales, total food costs, price, and margin contribution.
  • Identify key opportunities relative to individual menu items. This could include determining what makes your star products popular and applying these principles to other menu items.  Other options could be to cut costs on select items without sacrificing quality and to rebrand high-profit, medium-selling items to generate increased customer awareness and interest.
  • Be sure to look externally to see how your menu compares to and differs from your key competitors. Do you have unique and craveable signature items guests can only get by visiting your restaurants?

Step 2:  Menu & operations simplification

  • It’s helpful to conduct a TURF (Total Unduplicated Reach and Frequency) Analysis when simplifying a menu. TURF uses consumer research and a mathematical process to statistically determine if the elimination of a menu item would have any negative impact in satisfying your customers (reach) and how often customers might use your brand if that item were eliminated (frequency). Streamlining your menu will speed up back-of-house menu item preparation time, reduce inventory levels and improve customer ease and speed of ordering.
  • Use Menu Item Complexity Scores to improve operations, streamline your menu, and reduce costs. A menu item complexity score is an overall rating assigned to an individual menu item. Knowing your complexity scores can significantly impact your restaurant’s bottom line. These scores allow you to:
    • Feature high-selling, low-complexity menu items;
    • Downplay (or eliminate) low-selling, high-complexity menu items;
    • Optimize staffing;
    • Reduce cost of goods by better understanding ingredient usage and reducing waste; and
    • Enhance operational efficiency by streamlining operations related to cooking times, assembly times, recipe complexity, ingredient uniqueness, number of assembly steps, number of stations used, etc.  
  • Now it’s time to develop an optimized menu strategy based on the data, analytics, and metrics generated and assessed in Steps 1-2.

Step 3: Create a menu strategy (or optimize an existing one)

  • It begins with thoroughly reviewing your current menu strategy (assuming your brand has one). Many brands don’t have a written and articulated menu strategy, and they are at a disadvantage. A proper menu strategy utilizes the following steps:
    • Establish clear and measurable business objectives for your reengineered menu. Examples might include growing the average check, increasing food and beverage attach, etc.
    • Provide specific tactical examples of how you will accomplish each stated business objective.
    • List your food platforms and/or categories and put them in the order of strategic importance (often based on sales and profitability).
    • Identify what new menu items should be developed and which current items should be eliminated.
    • Maximize revenue and profitability by establishing appropriate pricing parameters and increasing prices on low-risk and price-elastic items.

Creating and agreeing on a menu strategy is an essential step in developing world-class foodservice communications.  It becomes the blueprint for optimizing menu communications to maximize sales and profits, speed the order process, and build customer loyalty.

Step 4:  Menu architecture

  • Use your new menu strategy as a guide to reorganize your key menu communication tools (mobile app, website, kiosk, digital, hand-held, menuboard, etc.)
  • Allocate more real estate and prominent positioning to your highest-selling and highest-margin items and those menu items deemed necessary for strategic business reasons.
  • Develop a range of strategic schematic layouts for your menu communications. Select the one or more that most strongly supports the menu strategy and its business objectives.

The above steps will take time (3-4 months) because sound menu reengineering requires solid actionable data and strategic direction. It will require the participation and support of top management and representation from culinary, food innovation, operations, purchasing, and marketing.  Once the menu reengineering process is completed, the next step is the development of an enhanced menu communications and design program using the strategic schematic layouts developed in Step 4 as a framework for designing your optimized menu communications.


howland.pngHowland Blackiston is Co-Principal of King-Casey.  King-Casey has been helping restaurant brands grow their businesses and dramatically improve the customer experience for over half a century. King-Casey’s solutions are grounded in insights derived from hard data and analytics relative to consumer behavior. King-Casey provides a complete range of menu optimization services, including assessment, research, TURF analysis, menu complexity analysis, menu reengineering, menu strategy, and menu communications.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.