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Four Restaurant Menu Fails & Surefire Fixes

Last year, we brought you a popular post called Five Restaurant Menu Design Fails. It was very popular and we thought it was time to bring up a few new ways that menu design fails can hurt your business. But this time we’re offering some surefire fixes to keep your menu top-notch and top of design fail

Menu Design Fail #1 – Scratching through or “whiting out” prices instead of creating a new menu.

Sure, it’s easy, but what impression are you putting forth for your customers? When you don’t keep a source file easily accessible, this may seem like the only option if you suddenly need to change a price or take something off the menu.Surefire Fix: Keep all of your menu templates in one place. That’s why MustHaveMenus gives you a home in My Menus for all of your menu files that you can access anywhere, anytime – from your computer or on facebook

Menu Design Fail #2 – Not posting your menu to Facebook.

Facebook is a surefire way to reach current and new customers. So when you have a Facebook page and don’t add your menu, it’s a failure to communicate with your customers. Don’t let this happen.Surefire Fix: Connect your customers with your menu on Facebook with the MustHaveMenus Menu App. It works in two ways:

  1. My Menu Tab – Your customers can click the My Menu button at the top of your page and see your professionally designed menu in an instant and share it with their friends and family.
  2. Publish to Your Wall – Got a special dinner coming up? Want to let your customers know about your upcoming holiday catering specials? It’s as simple as a click to publish your specials menus and event flyers to your Facebook Wall.

Learn more about the benefits of putting your menu on Facebook.

Menu Design Fail No. 3 – Too much clutter on your menu.

The best menu design guides your customer in what to order. Too much clutter such as large borders, too many items packed into one page and photos everywhere can distract your customers from your great food.Surefire Fix: Keep the menu design simple!Keep the design simple and clean to help customers find their favorite dishes and to increase sales. Have a large selection? With MustHaveMenus, you can simply add pages or select a longer menu to accommodate your expansive menu.clean menu designDesign Do: Keep the design simpleto make it easy for customersto find favorites.

menu design failMenu Design Fail No. 4 – Using hard-to-read or too many fonts.

When you use too many fonts on your menu, it can look amateurish or cluttered like in this example. When there’s too much going on, it’s hard for your customer to focus on your offerings. That can lead to confusion when it comes time to order.Surefire Fix: Keep your fonts to three complimentary fonts or less per menu design. If selecting fonts isn’t your thing, our professional designers have set the stage for a clean menu design in our more than 3,000 menu templatesGet access to more than 3,000 designer menu templates, online software and publish your menus directly to Facebook for just $29/month.

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Branding Your Restaurant with Menu Sets

american bar menu setOne of the most important parts of branding your restaurant has to do with consistency. Keep Reading ›

Six Steps to Success in Menu Design

At MustHaveMenus, we’re in business to help you grow your business. And that starts with great menu design. Since it’s back to school time, we thought we’d revisit what makes a great menu for your restaurant.Here are six basic steps for success in menu design or redesign.

fine dining food menuDetermine your look.

  • Do you have an existing logo or brand? If not, you’ll need a look that says what you do and who you serve.
  • Are you upscale, casual, family-friendly or modern? Pinpoint your look by describing it in a word or two.
  • What look doesn’t appeal to you? Hard to read fonts? No white space? Look at lots of restaurant menus to see what you do and don’t like and take a few notes.

Determine how your customers will use your menu.

Your customers will use your menu to make a decision about what to eat at your restaurant. But it goes much deeper than that. Your restaurant menu should be easy to read, clear and organized.The customer should be able to:

  • Find your name and contact info
  • Find general categories of dishes (appetizers, main entrees, sides, desserts, drinks)
  • See the menu in all lights – watch too tiny fonts, light colors and hard-to-read swirly letters.
  • Focus on your offerings – When you have too much text, too many options or too many graphics (photos, clipart, etc.), it can be like looking at map and not knowing where to start. Be organized and critical in your menu formatting.

menu on facebookDoes your menu work on Facebook and online?

Another consideration is the digital version(s) of your menu. More and more diners are looking to Facebook and online for restaurant menus before they call in that takeout order or issue a lunch date request. Your menu should look as good online as it does on your counter or table tops.

Determine how your menu will be handled.

At least once a year, a study or article comes out citing how dirty restaurant menus are. That should be a consideration in your menu design. Will you laminate it or print fresh paper menus each week? Will you put your menu in a menu cover?These simple questions will help you avoid problems with layout and help you determine exactly what space you have in your menu design.

todays menuDo you need supplemental menus?

This depends on your offerings. If you have the same menu year-round, you can probably get by with a single restaurant menu or café menu. If you want to entertain the kids and separate their offerings, a kid’s menu may be a good option. If you offer specials at the bar or a rotating soup or dessert menu, you may have a need for a few different menus.Separating your menus has both pros and cons, but it can help you in two ways – drive more interest and keep the main menu clean and attractive.See this recent MustHaveMenus blog article on the six menus every restaurant needs for a look at why separating your menus can drive sales.

menu design setsCould you benefit from a central look?

One of the strongest branding tools is to get a base look such as a menu design set. This piece will have coordinating menus and promo materials that can tie everything together. This is especially helpful in restaurants with seasonal or different menus at lunch and dinner.Take a look at our menu design sets to see how you can create a streamlined, branded look for all of your restaurant marketing materials – everything from the lunch menu to the daily specials to your comment and business cards.We hope this article helped you answer a few questions about your menu and how important design is to helping your customers make decisions and for driving more sales.Get access to more than 3,000 designer menu templates, online software and publish your menus directly to Facebook for just $29/month. 

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Four Top Tips for Highlighting Restaurant Menu Specials

Menu specials serve a “special purpose” in your restaurant – they give you an opportunity to introduce new menu items, to sell more of a menu item that needs to move and to give regular customers variety.Communicating these specials can help you build interest in your daily lunch menu or help you reach new customers. Here are four ways to highlight your specials and grow your sales.

summer specialties menuSpecials Menu

In our recent article, Six Menus Every Restaurant Needs, we highlighted why using a separate specials menu can help you increase sales. It’s a great way to showcase limited time items, holiday offerings and a daily lunch plate.But there’s another reason to highlight specials on a printed menu – it helps your customers make a decision.  Think about it: a customer sees the special at the door while he/she is waiting. They sit down and can’t remember exactly what the special is. They have to ask the server. No big deal, but wouldn’t it help the customer to have a menu to review the ingredients, price, etc.?Same goes for the server spouting off the specials. Most customers don’t hear all that and can’t catch the special quickly enough to ask questions.Bottom Line: A printed specials menu is a simple way to sell more high-profit menu items and a way to help educate your customers on your delicious food.See our selection of designer specials menus that you can edit and print in a matter of minutes.

flyer for restaurant eventSpecials Flyers

Looking for a way to drum up some Tuesday night business? Or to increase lunch sales on Sunday? Try creating a specials flyer for Tapas Tuesdays or Family Brunch.Using a flyer to highlight special menu offerings can help you reach a new crowd and fill in a gap in your sales. Here are a few tips for creating a winning specials flyer:

  1. Keep the specials flyer simple. Give customers the highlights, pricing, times/days specials are valid and contact info for your restaurant.
  2. Highlight 3 to 5 menu items or buffet highlights on your flyer. Try to keep the entire flyer to under 50 words. This will help you communicate but not over inform.
  3. Use calls to action. Try leading them somewhere else such as – See our full menu at our website or Facebook page and the link.

hamburger table tent menuTable Tents

An alternative to printing up a specials menu is to give your customers a guide to your weekly specials in the form of a table tent. Keep the text simple with a name, a brief description and pricing as well as the dates/times the specials are available. This is especially appealing for bar food options, dinner specials, desserts or vegetarian options.


If you offer daily specials, it’s probably safe to assume your Facebook page has a good number of fans. What better place to see what’s for lunch or dinner? If you do offer daily lunch specials and don’t have them on Facebook, get started today!Here are a few tips for sharing your specials on Facebook:

  1. Use a picture. Sure, you may have more than one special for the day, but a great graphic will result in more eyeballs seeing your special.
  2. Use a short, detailed description. Make a serving suggestion or describe the flavor of the dish. Use adjectives that will make your customers hungry!
  3. Use a call to action and give a price. It’s not a bad idea to give your customers the price and a simple “come see us.”
  4. Link to your longer specials menu. If you have more than one daily special or a rotating menu, post it to your Facebook page with the Menu app and link your special to it. Here’s a guide on how to do that.

Next Steps

Tell us what you think about highlighting specials on our Facebook page. Did we miss anything? Are you doing something that works great and want to share?Get access to more than 2500 designer menu templates, online software and publish your menus directly to Facebook for just $29/month. 

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Six Menus Every Restaurant Needs

Menus are your marketing piece. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. That’s why we give you more than 2,500 menu design templates to help you present your food and drink in the best light possible.While your main menu should be your real focus, splitting your menu into six separate menus can do two things for you and your dine-in customers – simplify the ordering process and drive more sales. Let’s explore the six menus every restaurant needs.

Main Menu

Your main menu should house all the information about your appetizers and main courses. It’s fine to give customers a glimpse of dessert and drink offerings, but these are often afterthoughts for most customers. Giving them the main idea in your main menu makes the process of ordering their main entree a little easier. It also presents everything to customers browsing your menu online or on Facebook.

The Other Five Menus

Not all of these menus will apply to your restaurant, but if you offer sit-down service or a bar option for your customers, then it’s important to consider these other types of menus. Even if you don’t have sit down service, your customers can benefit from a catering menu or seasonal specials menu.The goal of these other menus is to give you another chance to reach out to your customers. Here are the five other menus and how they can benefit you:

Drink Menu colorful summer drinks menu

Whether you call it a wine list, bar menu or cocktail menu, this menu is a chance to cash in some lucrative drink sales. During that brief interval where customers are waiting on a table or a server, when they’re presented with this menu, it gives them a place to start.

Kids Menu

The little ones at the table feel honored when they get their own menu, plus the kids menu provides some entertainment for the wee ones. It’s an investment worth making because it gives your customers an easy way to communicate your kid offerings to their children. It’s also a good distraction so Mom and Dad can peruse your main menu.

Dessert Menu

healthy dessert menu Unless the customer is ordering their dessert for their meal, a separate dessert menu makes sense for dine-in customers. It gives the server an opportunity to upsell the customer to dessert and to refer customers to their recommendations.

Catering Menu

catering platter menu If you’re in the catering business, it’s a given that you need a separate catering menu for your bulk items, trays and catering options. This menu should be displayed in a convenient location (near the register, at the door, on Facebook and on the tables)

Specials Menu

Specials menus can range from limited time items to a daily lunch plate. The benefit of specials menus is that they can increase sales, help you determine whether something will be a hit for your main menu and act as a promotion during holidays and times when you need to drive business. Consider specials menus as “hooks” to stay top of mind with your customers.Get access to more than 2500 designer menu templates, online software and publish your menus directly to Facebook for just $29/month.

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Expanding Your Marketing Reach with the Menu App

restaurant menu on facebookAs we announced last week, more than 1,500 restaurants are using the MustHaveMenus Menu App to publish their menu and flyers directly to Facebook in a single click. Keep Reading ›

Five Best Practices for Restaurants on Facebook

facebook best practicesNew research shows that Facebook is an increasingly important communication channel for restaurants. Take a look at these findings from Forrester Research:

  • Facebook fans are more likely to be repeat customers than the average customer
  • Facebook fans are more likely to recommend your restaurant to others
  • Facebook fans are more likely to talk about your restaurant with friends and family

That’s powerful! And especially in light of this stat from the National Restaurant Association – 28% of customers look to Facebook for a place to dine out. Nearly a third of your customers are looking for a reason to visit your restaurant by searching Facebook for menu items and specials.In this article, we’ll discuss five best practices for restaurants on Facebook to give customers what they want and to drive sales in your restaurant, bar or cafe.

1. Keep your page active and up-to-date.

No one says you have to post 16 times a day, but posting new info on your page at least once a day, but no more than three times a day helps you show up more in your customers’ news feeds. A simple schedule could be:

  • Monday morning – Daily special menu for the week/Afternoon (around 3:30) – Tonight’s dinner special (with pic)
  • Tuesday morning – Any live music/events you have coming up for the week with a menu or flyer to help it stand out.
  • Wednesday morning – A pic of your new club sandwich
  • Thursday morning –  Something fun – “The best place to enjoy a Frank’s sub is ______________ with __________________.”
  • Friday morning – A giveaway or a fan of the week and any updates about weekend festivities.
  • Other things to post – Pictures from live music and big events, an engagement, the packed patio on a Saturday night, a signature drink, etc.

MustHave: Keep the message and visuals (like menus and flyers) focused on your products and brand. That’s why Facebook fans like you.

2. Use visual aids as much as you can.

Facebook bought Instagram (a simple photo sharing service with cool photo filters for smartphone users) this year for a reason. They know the future of content is visual. Just look at how crazy people are about Pinterest. You can increase your customer comments and shares (ways your page shows up in front of your customers’ friends and family) by adding a pic or even publishing your menu and flyers to your Wall. You can do this in a simple click with MustHaveMenus.

3. Answer questions and encourage feedback on your page.

Nothing turns a customer off more than when you have a Facebook page, but you don’t answer their questions. If you’re going to have a page, you have to respond, or customers will check out. Train a few people on your team on how to handle Facebook comments and questions and respond as quickly as possible. It’s simple with the new Pages app for your smartphone.Also, if you’re using the Facebook messaging service (where fans can send a private message to your page), be sure to respond right away. That customer typically has a more urgent need or question.One last note on Facebook interaction – handle all concerns with transparency and tact. No personal attacks or arguing on the Wall. Remove offensive comments, but don’t be so quick to remove a concern. Often, when you resolve an issue quickly, you may get some very honest and credible feedback from how you handle a comment.

4. Share news about your business.

As we learned in recent research from Facebook, your customers want to hear about your business. When you participate in a charity event, a BBQ cookoff or even a farmer’s market demonstration, this shows your customers that you’re active in their community and that you have a spirit of goodwill. That’s important to a lot of people. Take this example from Meredith and Aneil Mishra (authors of the book Trust is Everything):

We have had a couple of homeless bouts in our lives (times between homes–when they were being built) and when we needed a place to use Wi-Fi and landed at Panera.  We didn’t just mooch Wi-Fi, we spent money on food and drink as well.  Now, they offer special perks to Wi-Fi customers, as well.

Something as simple as free Wi-Fi is important to your customers and it’s important to let them know about it. Sharing details like the fact that you have free Wi-Fi or that you took dinner to the local fire station last night are signs of this.Now, there’s a right way to do it and a wrong way. When you’re sharing news (especially published elsewhere), be sure to thank the organization for their support or for letting you be involved. Also thank them for their feedback.

5. Use Facebook the right way.

You’ve probably seen other local businesses set their page up as a personal profile and ask you to friend them. This takes away from the experience for your customers and you don’t get the benefit of seeing what your customers are interested in.For customers, pages require a simple click on the Like button. To “become your friend,” they have to wait on you to accept their request. This is brutal for your business when they are “doing research” on where to eat. They also can’t see your menu or a map of your location.Follow these best practices to generate more interaction and sales with your Facebook customers and check out these other resources on making the most of Facebook: Post These 3 Things to Facebook to Make More SalesHow to Get Your Menu on Facebook in Just a Few Clicks and How Facebook Timeline Boosts Your Business.

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News Update: More Than 1,500 Restaurants Using MustHaveMenus Menu App – Are You?

MustHaveMenus (, the leader in menu management, announced today that more than 1,500 restaurants are using its Facebook Menu App to upload and update menus on Facebook. The company also reported that more than 15,000 active restaurants are using its cloud-based menu template and social media marketing service for print and Facebook menus.The Facebook Menu App is an important new product addition in MustHaveMenus’ resource portfolio for member restaurants. Providing up-to-date menus on a Facebook page gives fans a reason to comment and like favorite dishes, specials, and events, and this causes the menu to appear on their friends’ newsfeeds. This creates new visibility for the restaurant and can help grow the business.

We look at Facebook as a free marketing tool with a simple premise – get your audience talking…MustHaveMenus makes it quick and easy to publish these menus and update them as frequently as you want. – Jim Williams, CEO of MustHaveMenus

“Restaurants don’t need to be especially clever or exciting about Wall posts, they just need to give customers what they’re hungry for – great pictures of food and a place where they can be sure to find the most recent menu. The appeal to diners becomes even greater if the menu is time-sensitive, as in a happy-hour or specials menu,” said CEO Jim Williams. “MustHaveMenus makes it quick and easy to publish these menus and update them as frequently as you want.”MustHaveMenus’ members also have anytime access to over 2,500 professionally designed menus, menu sets, promotional flyers and other creative services materials. Grills, cafes, sports bars, pizzerias, fine dining establishments and many other types of restaurants use MustHaveMenus’ online menu editor to save time and money. And now the site simplifies social media marketing by giving restaurants a one-step process for publishing their print-ready menu to Facebook. Printed menus match the Facebook menus, allowing restaurants to maintain branding and accuracy.Williams added, “Our members have reached out to MustHaveMenus to extend their brands online, using the menus they’ve already made and printed for the tables. We’re glad to see the Facebook Menu App is taking off.”MustHaveMenus was incorporated in August 2011 when it was spun out of Internet incubator Letters & Arts. MustHaveMenus offers restaurants an easy-to-use, low-cost menu management service. The company serves over 15,000 restaurant clients who create tens of thousands of menu updates and events flyers every month. The Facebook Menu App is a one-click publishing solution to Facebook. Restaurants pay a $15 monthly membership fee for unlimited access. MustHaveMenus’ founder Jim Williams is also a co-founder of Internet companies Ellinee Design House, Sharefaith and MarketHome.Learn more about how MustHaveMenus helps you promote your restaurant in print and on Facebook.

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How to Boost Spring Sales with Spring Parties

With spring comes warmer weather and warmer sales. Even though sales may naturally climb as the temperature climbs, it’s still a good idea to drive business with special promotions during the month of May. In this article, we’ll give you 10 ideas for driving more sales this month without spending much money at all.

May is BBQ Month

May is a great month to introduce a BBQ sandwich special, host a weekly BBQ on your awesome patio or or add a little catering business with pulled pork sandwiches, cole slaw and baked beans plates for fundraisers, family reunions and company retreats. Here are a few promo ideas:

  1. BBQ Specials – Update and print a BBQ specials menu and add to your four walls and distribute to your neighboring businesses.
  2. BBQ Party – Find a band that plays for tips, crank up that smoker and invite all your customers with flyers in the restaurant, club or bar as well as on Facebook. You can get your BBQ promo flyer in just a few clicks with MustHaveMenus and the Menu App.
  3. BBQ Catering – Put together a list of contacts at businesses with 10-100 staff members (use the Chamber of Commerce list to get get a contact). Prepare a BBQ catering menu with MustHaveMenus and send the professional PDF with a short note and a personal offer (free meal to give away or some free app/dessert coupons) to the company contacts on your email list. Follow up with a phone call and start booking BBQ sales.
  4. Memorial Day – Families are looking for simple solutions to celebrate the unofficial start of summer. Whip up a Memorial Day specials flyer featuring some of your bulk catering items such as banana pudding, cole slaw, potato salad and strawberry pies. Promote in-house and on Facebook.

May Kicks Off Wedding Season

May is a popular month for weddings because June is always so popular and Memorial Day weekend offers the wedding party an extended weekend. While you may not get all the orders in May, now is the time to start promoting your catering options for weddings. You can also get smart and market little extras to May wedding parties. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Put your wedding catering menu on Facebook. One way Facebook can help restaurants is the word-of-mouth aspect. If your customers weren’t aware you catered weddings, this can spark conversation or be thie first thing they think of when a friend asks for a recommendation.
  2. Put photos of events you cater on Facebook. If you cater a wedding, showcase your work with photos of the dinner setup, a plate of your delicious food and the wedding dinner menu.
  3. Host a wedding tasting party. Why wait on brides/grooms to come to you for catering orders? Bring in the business by partnering with another wedding vendor or wedding directory to host a wedding tasting party. Your guests don’t pay anything, but they get to try your wedding menu selections and ask questions. We can guarantee you the competition isn’t taking it to this personalized level.

Baseball, Graduation & Other Events

May is the end of school and sports in many parts of the country. Take advantage of this time of celebration.

  1. Head to the ball fields with menus, lemonade and coupons for the hungry players and their families.
  2. Become a Facebook resource. Find out when all of the area schools are holding their graduation ceremonies – Add a calendar with the dates/times as a note to your Facebook page. This useful information can get your customers thinking about where to go before or after the big event. Also, don’t forget to mention baseball scores, post pics of teams when they come in, etc. to show your support for the community.
  3. Offer an early bird dinner special or takeout option for grads. Many of the graduations are at 7 or 8 p.m. That means rumbling tummies during the ceremony. Post to Facebook and email to your customers about your ready-to-go salads and sandwich plates to help make the celebration a success.
  4. Gift certificates make great gifts. Create a gift certificate on the MustHaveMenus site and publish it to Facebook to remind your customers to purchase for friends and family who are graduating.

These are just a few ideas for making more sales in May. How are you celebrating special spring events in your restaurant? Tell us about it on our Facebook page.

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Post These 3 Things to Facebook to Make More Sales

facebook chartA recent report in Ad Age says most of us are doing it wrong when it comes to posting on our Facebook pages. That’s why we’re bringing you the Post This, Not That for restaurants and other foodservice establishments. Keep Reading ›

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