Menu Builder 2.0 Update 5/30

Have you tried the Menu Builder 2.0 yet? It’s our new online menu maker, a powerful app for creating fully custom menus. Here’s a glimpse of what’s new this week:

1. Graphics mode (button located above your menu preview) makes it easier to select only graphics, especially if they are positioned behind your content

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2. Choose from 40+ fonts! From woodcut to script, hand-drawn to Celtic-style, unique fonts let you customize your menu to match your brand.

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3. Now you can control the space between a section header and the first item. Look for the new controls on the Layout toolbar

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4. Specials boxes have been added to the theme graphics, so you can easily highlight featured items.

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The team is hard at work on a bunch of new features, but our top priority is making the app quicker and easier to use. And we are grateful for the bugs you report; it helps us find and fix them quickly.

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10 Cool Features in the New Menu Builder 2.0

Create menus with a new level of convenience and control.

Here at MustHaveMenus, we are dedicated to delivering the best possible menu tools for small businesses. Guided by feedback from our users, the team has been hard at work developing a whole new Menu Builder experience. It’s packed with new features, and we’re excited to finally share it with you!

Here are some of the great features you’ll find in Menu Builder 2.0:

  1. Enter your content only once. Then preview it on any design.
  2. Your content auto-flows to create more pages as needed.
  3. Switch paper size with a click. Today we offer 7 sizes, with more to come.
  4. View your content and preview side-by-side, so you can see your changes immediately.
  5. Reorder your sections, and customize each section to suit any type of items.
  6. Want a different background? Hide the theme background and insert your own, or choose one from the graphics library.
  7. Customize your menu layout by changing columns.
  8. Move headers, footers, and sections around on the page to create the layout you need.
  9. Access thousands of images and menu labels in the graphics library.
  10. In addition to setting font color and size, now you can choose the font-face, style (bold, italic), and alignment.  The Apply All button makes it easy to update your fonts everywhere.

Even in this early stage, the Menu Builder 2.0 heralds a new level of customizability for online menu creation.  Stay tuned in the coming months as we add many more design themes, paper sizes, and features.

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Portland Sports Bar Has Efficiency On The Menu

The Bucket Brigade Sports Bar in Portland, Ore., is one of those classic neighborhood restaurants “where everybody knows your name,” as the theme song goes for the popular ’80s sitcom Cheers.

BucketBrigade_logoFor the past twelve years, owner Debbie Marinello has cultivated a diverse and accommodating atmosphere that’s reflected by her friendly staff’s knowledge of patrons’ names, drinks and favorite foods. The Bucket Brigade includes a mouth-watering array of twists on traditional pub favorites, such as the Peanut Butter Bacon Burger and the Turkey Melt with grilled onions and avocado.  Specialties like their Deep Fried Tender Chicken Gizzards are longtime favorites.

BucketBrigade_MustHaveMenus_1“We are a diamond in the rough here at Bucket Brigade and so is MustHaveMenus,” stated Marinello. “It’s quicker and easier now to manage our menus—we are glad our FSA (Food Services of America) rep introduced us to MustHaveMenus.” MustHaveMenus’ service team helped Marinello condense the Bucket Brigade menu from six pages down to two, a move that would make even Gordan Ramsay proud.

With a separate and ever-changing happy hour menu, it’s also super simple for Marinello to make quick changes and to print out updates in-house. Bucket Brigade has its own website, but thanks to MustHaveMenus publishing tools, their new menu is also on Facebook and Places, MustHaveMenus’ mobile optimized business directory. “Now we have a more user-friendly menu that is optimized for online and mobile; we can update them all in a snap,” Marinello said.

BucketBrigade_MustHaveMenus_NachosKeeping up with General Manager Carl Kidd and Bar Manager Doug Prentice as they continue to innovate and expand the menu has been a challenge for Marinello, who is a very busy single mother of three young men. “MustHaveMenus helps me to run the business more efficiently,” stated Marinello. “There’s an endless list of things I try to get done every day and MustHaveMenus took menu management off of my to-do list.”

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Great Menus Help Launch a Dream for Spa Entrepreneur

Wendy Hritz is doing what most of us simply dream of: going out on her own and being her own boss. After almost a decade of working for a variety of day spas, Hritz launched her own venture at the Courtyard Med Spa.

Menu2Providing a personal touch and going the extra mile for her customers has been Hritz’s signature since her early days as an esthetician in southern California. Over the years, she has honed her skills for all types of spa treatments including facials, chemical peels, waxing and eyelash extensions. But beyond trade skills, Hritz realized she would need some help to properly launch her business to the good folks of Midland, Texas.  She needed a way to create a marketing piece to professionally sell her services,  both in person and on the web.

“I just Googled menu design and I was quickly put at ease by MustHaveMenus’ easy-to-use web templates,” stated Hritz. Starting a business from scratch can be a daunting task for any seasoned professional; however, Hritz was able to quickly check off many important tasks with the help of MustHaveMenus.

“The MustHaveMenus’ support staff helped turn my draft concepts into professional quality menus and business cards, and now they’re on Facebook and mobile-ready! I never thought it could be that simple,” Hritz said.

Hritz wanted professional-quality marketing tools for her high-end spa. By using MustHaveMenus print service, she was able to click a button and have her menus and business cards delivered right to her door rather than working with a designer, going to the print shop and wasting extra time managing the process. “The paper is great, excellent stock, they look beautiful. The team did a great job and were proactive getting them to me and coaching me along the way,” she said.

Hritz also wanted to make her menus instantly available to online customers, including the rapidly growing number of customers doing searches using a mobile device. Despite having no technical experience, Hritz found MustHaveMenus’ Places page made that a snap. She was able to create her mobile page in just a few clicks, the final piece to her menu management puzzle. Hritz also added the MustHaveMenus app to her Facebook page so any time she makes a change to her menus, it will instantly show up on Facebook as well.

“I’m so excited for this new venture and I owe a big thank you to MustHaveMenus,” stated Hritz. “They made my menus as easy as ordering cotton balls and wax. Its just that simple.”

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Online Menu Builders Finally Make Sense

Successful Restaurateurs Use MustHaveMenus to Do A Week’s Worth of Work in A Day

“MustHaveMenus operates like we do: very straightforward, not gimmicky. When I called for help, a real person actually answered the phone.”
— Stephanie Copeland, Bimini Bar & Grill

Bimini Bar and Grill Menu Cover Template Online 1With 15 years of restaurant experience and four successful restaurants under their belt, husband and wife team Stephanie and Pete Copeland have found a new niche in the small coastal community of Osprey, Florida. Their Bimini Bar and Grill has been winning over patrons for two years with a variety of fresh, from-scratch seafood dishes. The menu blends East and West coast influences, including Pete’s favorite Philly cheese steak and Stephanie’s California-style fish tacos. A favorite dish among regulars is the Scallops St. Jacque: pan-seared scallops with a classic sherry and mushroom cream sauce over a bed of parmesan risotto.

Bimini Bar and Grill Menu Cover Template Online 2Over the years, Stephanie Copeland has served as the menu developer for the family business. Traditionally, she would go through the cumbersome process of creating menus in Word, then sending them to her husband and the chef for feedback before printing on their in-house printer. But one day Stephanie discovered MustHaveMenus, and an evolution took place. “MustHaveMenus has great templates and tools so that I’m still in control of the design of my menus; they make me look like a pro,” she said.

The convenience of online tools has made the whole menu process easier for the Copelands and their team. “I never would have guessed that I’d have a Facebook menu app, a mobile website and the ability to make edits and changes in the cloud—super helpful for all of us to access the menus wherever we may be,” Stephanie noted. “It used to take us a week to create and print event menus for New Years Eve or a sports event. Now it only takes a day to turn them around.”

2014 is going to be a big year for the Bimini Bar & Grill as they continue to source the best local ingredients and foster a strong relationship with the community. As the business grows, the Copelands and their two children look forward to planting roots deep in the West Florida sand.

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SiP Bistro showcases their Menu in an iframe

MustHaveMenus_SiP_Homepage_Menu_LinkSiP Wine & Coffee Bistro, a favorite local cafe in Holly Springs, NC, has a clever way of integrating their Places menu directly on the homepage.

When you click the button for SiP Menu, the menu pops open in an iframe directly below. This is a great way to let customers view your latest menu within the branded experience of your own site.

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Bo Daddy’s links to their Places menu from homepage

MustHaveMenus_BoDaddys_Homepage_Menu_LinkThe on-trend website for Bo Daddy’s Smokehouse, a barbecue restaurant in Greenville, SC, covers all the basic info customers might need. The link for “Menu” is easy to find at the top of the homepage.

Bo Daddy’s links this directly to their Places page, so visitors to their site will always see the most current version of their menu.

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Is your business ready to grow in 2014?

MustHaveMenus Photos in templates food restaurantsSimple menu upgrades make a big impact

The post-holiday lull is the perfect time to consider your goals for the year, and a great opportunity to evaluate your menus. A menu is your most powerful selling tool, so don’t let it be an afterthought. Follow these 5 tips to be sure your menu is really working for you.

1. Update Your Look

If you’ve had your current menu design for a while, think about what could be improved. Want to improve sales by moving desserts or signature cocktails to a table tent? Need to condense your wine list into an easier format? Ready for a new takeout style? Whatever you want to try, our menu experts are standing by to help. Give us a call at 1-800-452-2234.

2. Trim Your Offering

Winter is a great time to look critically at your menu. Which items are hot sellers, and which are duds? Don’t hesitate to remove low-performing items; it will help streamline everything from stock and prep to customer ordering. You’ll also be clearing space to try new items that could become new favorites.

3. Add Visual Appeal

As they say, people eat with their eyes first. Including tempting images of items on your menu can have a measurable impact on sales. But of course, low-quality or unappetizing images will have the opposite effect, so it’s worth investing in quality photos.

4. Get Some Fresh Prints

Are your tabletop menus looking worn out? Stains, creased corners, and torn lamination can distract customers and cheapen the experience. With new prints on our top-notch menu paper, you’ll feel confident that your menus make the best impression. Order prints today and you’ll have new menus on the tables by next week.

5. Sync Changes Everywhere

Whether you’re ready for a new design or a few new items, you’ll want to keep your menus in sync, from tabletop to takeout to online listings. This consistency builds your brand and lets your customers order with confidence. Sync your print menu with your website, Facebook page, and Places mobile menu with just one click at MustHaveMenus.

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Tips to Sell More Takeout

MustHaveMenus Takeout Menus Printed
From quick service to fine dining, offering takeout can be a great way to increase business without much overhead. The 2013 Restaurant Industry Forecast found that 33% of adults in the U.S. rely on restaurant takeout. Whether you’re just branching into takeout or giving your takeout menu a makeover, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Takeout should be a separate menu.

Some of your regular menu items may not be suitable for on-the-go, such as hot soups or delicate desserts. Consider what your kitchen can prep in a reasonable time frame (20 minutes max) and package securely. And only include items you can consistently offer; save the seasonal or limited supply dishes for in-house specials. Browse takeout menus.

Takeout menus should build your brand.

Consider your takeout menu an ambassador for your restaurant. Customers will often encounter this menu away from the restaurant environment. Wherever they find it, they should immediately get a feel for your brand. Take cues from your in-house menu and the restaurant atmosphere. Better yet, match your carryout menu to your tabletop menu design with Design Sets. Always include your logo, hours, and complete contact information.

Takeout menus should be published online.

With one click, your takeout menu can be published to Places, MustHaveMenus’ free online business directory. Your mobile-ready takeout menu is synced to your account, and lives online to help diners find you. Then link your Places webpage to other online directories, such as Yelp or UrbanSpoon, and your own website. Your takeout menu will always be current, so diners can order with confidence.

Takeout menus should be professionally printed.

Takeout menus tend to be an afterthought for restaurants, but quality menus promise a quality dining experience. You can easily order professional prints right from your MustHaveMenus account. Keep a stack of trifolds on the counter by the register or hostess stand for guests to grab as they leave. You might even distribute menus in the neighborhood; the vast majority of your clientele live within 5 miles of your business.

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Online marketing tools have big value for small restaurant

MustHaveMenus BigUns BBQ Online Marketing Menus

Photo: Thad Allton/The Capital-Journal

When opening a new restaurant, owners often count on friends and family to pitch in and help the business grow. For Big’Uns Grill in Topeka, Kansas, it was an Atwood family affair to launch their new culinary venture. Big’Uns is the first restaurant for brothers Craig and Lee Atwood. Lee is the meat expert; his bbq prowess has been well documented at many Atwood family functions over the years. Craig and Lee’s mother contributed financial support, while their cousin donated time in his welding shop to help them build their own smoker. Lee’s wife, Amanda Atwood, volunteered to do the marketing. In less than 90 days, with no formal training, this modest online-marketing maven created an online and social media presence for Big’Uns Grill to rival that of the big chains.

“Customers need to see our menu online; it’s very convenient for local doctors and busy business owners to check our menu online since they can’t get away from the office,” said Amanda. “It’s great to be able to create and control our own authentic online menu and keep it updated for Facebook, our website, and for printing here at the restaurant.”

BBQ Menu Management

After first creating a Facebook page for Big-Uns Grill, Amanda found MustHaveMenus while searching for a simple way to create and update their menu. She was initially impressed by the variety of templates to choose from and how easy it was to create a custom menu herself. Amanda’s menu can now be found all over the Internet. It’s on Facebook with MustHaveMenus’ Menu App. It’s on Urban Spoon linked to their MustHaveMenus Places page (optimized for mobile devices) and it’s on their own website Bigunsgrill.com. Now whenever Amanda needs to update the tabletop menu, with one click she can sync her changes across all of these websites as well.

“We are confident that our marketing efforts are reaching our local customers in a variety of productive ways,” said Atwood. “With a TV commercial, a strong Facebook following and online menus being updated on key websites, we are well positioned to reach local businesses, consumers and out-of-town travelers.”

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