Catering Menu Design
Design tips for your catering menu
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Catering can be big business, even more profitable than the restaurant-side of a brand. While word-of-mouth is probably the most significant marketing force in the business, menu design is a crucial and often overlooked part of selling a catering service. Prospective clients often spend days collecting catering menus to review before contacting anyone. Make sure yours is designed to win those potential customers over.
Capture Your Defining Characteristics
Regardless whether you cater in conjunction with a restaurant, you aim to convey a particular image with your marketing, food, and service. Design your catering menu to reflect these characteristics. For example, if your brand is upscale and refined, a menu with understated and tasteful design complements the image. If you're all about comfort food and friendly service, warm colors and a few playful graphics fit. If you serve the cuisine of a certain ethnicity, you have a ready-made color scheme. That doesn't mean your menu should be completely colored like a flag; use the colors on a smaller, more subtle scale for a classier approach.
Make it Legible
Print your catering menu in an easy-to-read font. Avoid letters that loop and squiggle all over the page. If people need a magnifying glass, they usually won't bother finding one. Make sure background images or colors aren't too dark or distracting, and that they don't otherwise interfere with reading the text. Including the foreign language associated with your cuisine can add a touch of authenticity, but it can also prevent potential clientele from understanding what you're saying or serving. Stick to well-known foreign-language words and phrases, or offer parenthetical translations where they would be helpful.
Categorize to Maximize Appeal
It's not particularly complicated for people to look at a restaurant menu and decide whether or not to eat there. However, someone shopping for a caterer usually needs a business that will please far more people at once. Catering customers have a varied list of concerns, such as providing vegetarian or gluten-free options, offering something for guests who don't like seafood and the person who's deathly allergic to shellfish (there's one at every party), and serving delicious appetizers that don't prematurely spoil appetites. Assuming you have a sizable selection, break down your catering menu into more categories than you would a restaurant menu. Give the appearance of great variety, topping each section with a slightly enlarged header. If you take requests for items not listed, note that prominently.
Pitch Your Services with Description
There's no better way to sell your food on your menu than by crafting enticing descriptions. Don't just tell people what's in a dish and how it's cooked. Tell them how it smells, looks, feels, sounds, or makes them feel. A catering customer seeks reassurance that the food you provide will delight all their guests. Use a little extra copy on your catering menu to put certain notions about your food into potential clients' heads. This shows you take your food seriously, generates interest in it, and gives the customer confidence when they get none from the competition.
Written by: Jon Mohrman