MustHaveMenus Blog

Fresh Ideas to Grow Your Business

The Natural Next Step to Grow your Business

shutterstock_231684511It’s  a great time to be alive; we live in a time where the technology and resources to build some of the best and most exciting solutions to our conundrums are readily available. And more and more, people are turning to their phones to make use of this technology.

Today, we have more mobile devices than people on Earth! This means a great deal for you and your customers.

You already know that it’s important to have a website and to have your beautiful menus published, up-to-date, and easily readable online for your customers. But, as people expect more and more functionality and convenience from their mobile and online experiences, isn’t it time your menu did more? These rising expectations correlate directly with what we are doing here at MustHaveMenus, where we are working everyday to build an all-in-one solution for restaurants around the world.

We want to help you succeed in this new, do-it-all-on-mobile landscape. That’s why we think the natural next step for you, and us, is online ordering.

Our new online ordering product will provide all the tools and insights you need to set up and manage online takeout orders for your restaurant or food service, and will integrate seamlessly with your existing menu on MHM. (Don’t have a menu with MustHaveMenus yet? It’s easy to get started.)

Generating more takeout sales will be easier than ever.

We’re excited to help boost your growth and keep you competitive. Interested in being an early adopter, and generating more takeout orders? Our ahead-of-the-curve customers can get started today. Contact us for more information.

3 Things to Do to Improve the Dining Experience

Extensive series in a barbeque restaurant.  Multi-ethnic group includes Caucasian, African American and Indian models.  Friends having fun, and a family as well.

When you run a restaurant, you’re not just in the business of feeding people. You’re in the business of creating an experience—one that will keep your customers coming back again and again.

Here are three simple yet powerful steps you can take to improve that experience, and to get your restaurant’s diners back to the table more often.

1. Empower Your Front-of-House Staff

When employees know they have your trust, they’re better able to earn your customers’ trust in turn. Give your servers and other front of house staff the power to make up for minor problems without needing to run it by management, and let them comp a dessert here and there just because.

You can still set the guidelines, but give your waitstaff freedom and flexibility to work within them. Let them know you trust them to make the right choices for your restaurant, and they’ll wear their new empowerment with pride—and translate it into five-star service for each and every table.

2. Make a Better Menu

Davis_Ale_House_MenuToo many dining establishments see menus as a means to an end, rather than a core part of the dining experience. Your menu is your customers’ gateway to everything you have to offer; if it’s unappealing, confusing, or plain old dull, you’re creating low expectations for the entire meal.

There’s no cookie-cutter method to effective menu creation; every restaurant needs to figure out what their clientele wants in their meal and their experience, then design their menu accordingly. With a carefully customized menu, you’ll clue customers in to exactly what they can expect. They’ll be ready for their experience to match up to the menu’s promise.

3. Build a Stronger Brand

Many restaurateurs hear the word “brand” and immediately think of tacky color schemes and logos stamped on every square inch of their building. While logos (used correctly) and color schemes (good ones) are important branding elements, they’re just the beginning.

Effective branding ties everything together, creating a cohesive experience that starts at your restaurant’s exterior and stays strong through service. A strong brand gives you control over how your customers see your business and respond to your marketing efforts, and helps them build a relationship with you rather than seeing you as just one more option when they’re feeling hungry.

A good brand involves everything you do, from menus to decor to how your staff interacts with customers. It informs everything your restaurant does and communicates, during open hours and in your offsite outreach. You can start building a better brand and menu today by getting started with MustHaveMenus, or reading some of our other articles for specific, actionable tips that will take your restaurant wherever you want it to go.

How MHM Handles 5 Million Menu Updates Monthly

5 million menu updates every month. This is the number we’ve come to, and it keeps growing.

Our restaurants power their websites with our high-resolution, print-ready, mobile-friendly menus, plus MHM for Facebook. This means that we have to eliminate processing delays to ensure no lost business for our restaurants.

When a menu is updated, we take a number of steps.

  1. Create a point-in-time snapshot so you can go back to an old version.
  2. Replicate your new menu data and back it up.
  3. Process the menu design and graphical images, and reprocess your online services that are linked from your website.

Yes, this happens over 5 million times per month.

MustHaveMenus is able to do this instantaneously, without any waiting for long network updates and menu reprocessing. Your menus, PDFs, mobile menu, and Facebook pages stay online and receive the latest changes, even if your menu design changes, or you add new ones.

We’ve implemented a number of backend systems to keep restaurant menus up and running for fast response times and during heavy loads. For instance, our Menu Builder 2.0 is actually sprawled across a network of NoSQL database nodes, called Couchbase, which lets thousands of restaurants simultaneously update their menus at once. More than that, we’re able to grow and keep up with all of the new demands of our restaurant members.

(For the technically inclined, we chose Couchbase over Mongo for it’s MVCC approach to data-writes, plus it’s auto-sharding cluster management.)

couchbase

If you have not put your restaurant menus in the cloud with MHM, let us help your business and bring new eaters. It’s easy to get started.

Make Your Takeout Menu in 5 Minutes

 

Once you’ve created your tabletop menu in Menu Builder 2.0, it’s a snap to make a takeout version. Simply open your menu, make a copy (with the Copy Menu button), and the new version will be your takeout menu. Change the paper size to Trifold or Quadfold, and your content will autoflow into the takeout template. Adjust the headers and spacing, and you’re ready to print!

Don’t have a menu yet? It’s easy to create your takeout menu from scratch, too. Pick a design, select a takeout size, and enter your content. You can customize the cover panel, change font colors, add your logo and icons, and more.

When you order prints, we’ll trim and fold them for you; they will arrive at your door ready for your customers.

Southern Oregon Restaurants Adopt Cloud Menus

Howard Prairie Lake Resort and Oberon’s Tavern Modernize Their Menu Management

“Our menus have leapt into the modern era with the help of MustHaveMenus; their simple tools and great customer service open up so many marketing opportunities for us.” — Emily Parish, director of guest services, Mt Ashland Howard Prairie Lake Resort

“Besides live music, our menu is our #1 form of advertising and we couldn’t be more pleased that MustHaveMenus allows Oberon’s eclectic Shakespearean vibe to come across to patrons loud and clear.”
— Jordan Mackay, owner, Oberon’s Tavern

Oberons MenuModern restaurant owners have a lot on their plate: from the kitchen to social media, management to marketing, there are many aspects of the business to coordinate. Many savvy restaurateurs are turning to cloud resources to simplify the process. Two businesses in Southern Oregon have taken the leap to cloud-based menu software with MustHaveMenus.

The Howard Prairie Lake Resort is set in a stunning lakeside wilderness overlooking Mt McLoughlin. Emily Parish, director of guest services, used to rely on desktop publishing tools to create menus for the resort. But the software limited her creativity and didn’t deliver the professional results she wanted. Now Parish uses MustHaveMenus’ dynamic web tools to create her menus and deliver them seamlessly to the resort’s online marketing channels.

Oberons MenuNearby, in downtown Ashland, Oberon’s Tavern has an eclectic Shakespearean theme, enhanced by nightly music and Elizabethan-inspired fare. Owner Jordan MacKay also used to rely on home publishing programs such as Microsoft Word. “MustHaveMenus provides us with exponentially better menu management,” MacKay says. “Thankfully, gone are the days of wrestling with Word documents. Now our fun, spirited atmosphere, full of music, belly dancers and chicken plumb pies can be articulated through our menus; we are so thankful for MustHaveMenus.”

New Look And New Themes

This month we’ve launched a new look for the Menu Builder 2.0. Here’s a quick overview of what’s new & improved:

1. The workspace is simplified.
The navigation has moved to the top, making it easier to view your content and the menu preview side-by-side. And instead of toolbars and buttons spread around the workspace, now they are all contained on the left.

The new & improved workspace has tools on the left, preview on the right.

The new & improved workspace has tools on the left, preview on the right.

Controls are now easier to find.

Controls are now easier to find.

2. Tools are more discoverable.
Some of the tools have been reorganized to make them easier to find. For example, you’ll now find Fonts, Spacing, and Columns settings under Styles. The control for “hide background” now lives under Graphics. If you have any trouble finding the tool you need, our service team will be happy to help (1-800-452-2234).

No more delays for auto-refresh.

No more delays for auto-refresh.

3. Refresh preview is now manual.
Instead of auto-refreshing the preview every few seconds, we’ve turned the control over to you. Now you decide when you are ready to see the latest version of your preview.  No need to slow down for auto-refresh. This change makes the menu-building experience faster and simpler.

4. New Themes to choose from.
Themes are designs created by our professional menu design team. They offer inspiration and a starting point for your custom menu needs. We’re adding new options to the collection every week. If you have a favorite design you’d like to use in Menu Builder 2.0 but you don’t see it in the theme gallery yet, just give us a call.  Click here to see the newest designs.

New themes are added daily.

New themes are added daily.

Get Creative with Menu Builder 2.0

The new menu builder at MustHaveMenus offers more flexibility than ever to create a menu that perfectly fits your business.

Start with a template created by our professional menu designers, or select Build Your Own for a totally custom experience. Type in your menu content, then create your design. Here are some ideas for designing your own unique menu:

Add Graphics & Photos
It’s easier than ever to add your logo, a custom background, or photos to your menu. Upload your own art, or choose from one of the graphics galleries. Theme-related graphics include specials boxes and accents, or browse the large Clipart library for food images, seasonal graphics, word art and more.

NextGen-Sample-3NextGen-Sample-4NextGen-Sample-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Layout
Try different paper sizes – including legal, tabloid, half-page, or table tent – with just one click. Select from several column layouts, and adjust spacing as you prefer.

Customize Fonts
Select from more than 40 fonts, in a wide range of styles.  Match the text colors to your brand or logo.

Your Design, Your Brand
Whether you have an established brand or you’re searching for inspiration, Menu Builder 2.0 has got you covered. What will you create?

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.”

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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