MustHaveMenus Blog

Category: ‘Case Studies’

Custom Menu Design Peaks Traffic and Revenue for County Seat Restaurant


Tracey Cifers, owner of County Seat Restaurant & Gathering Place, has been a MustHaveMenus customer since 2007. And she’s been delighting her clientele with custom menu designs ever since. With Powhatan County’s population just over 28,000, being the local go-to gathering place for three generations is a brand to be proud of. Tracey makes the time to “revel in her brand” through frequent menu creations. The result? Increase in the frequency of regular customers, new customer acquisition, and a boost in revenue.

MHM: You’ve been a customer since 2007. How did you come to find MHM?
Tracey: I think I just stumbled across it searching the internet for easy do-it-yourself menu creation. It’s a great option for people who like to be creative but aren’t graphic designers. I used to just scrap and piece together menus in the past. It not only took forever but they also didn’t look very professional. I love to reinvent our restaurant from time to time. It freshens our brand, re-engages our customers and attracts people visiting the area. You can always recognize a newcomer by the way the mispronounce Powhatan
(a dead giveaway that they’re not from Virginia). 

MHM: What do you like the most about using MHM?
Tracey: I love how I can enter all my information once and then switch between design themes to see which I like best. It’s so easy to do. I have done our main menu over about six or seven times, moving menu items around, experimenting using borders and highlighting certain specials. I also like the fact that all of my graphics and files are in one place. I can grab a menu I’ve previously designed, change the theme and I’m done. Simple and cost effective.

MHM: What enticed you to change your menus so frequently?
Tracey: I think it really speaks to showing our customers our sense of pride of place. My mother started this restaurant 23 years ago with one cook, a cashier, and a waitress. Now, we have 30 employees and do over $1 million in sales. That comes from loyal customers. We want to show our appreciation by continuing to be the gathering place they’ve come to expect. We know half of our customers by their first name. They love that!   

MHM: How have your customers responded to your menu designs?
Tracey: Whenever I create a new menu I put it on our website and post it on Facebook. Our customers get really excited when I introduce a new menu. What’s really interesting is how frequently a customer will order something they’ve never ordered before simply because it’s in a different spot or I’ve put a box around it.They think we have all new menu selections but it’s the same items we always have. We’ve even seen a rise in the orders of some of our more pricey dishes by calling them out with graphics.

MHM: How has changing up your menus impacted your business?
Every time I introduce a new menu there is a two-week spike in our restaurant traffic and revenue. We’ve noticed that our regular customers (50% of our clientele) come in more frequently and we also attract between 5% to 10% of new customers.

MHM: What other features do you use on MHM?
Tracey: I create a lot of flyers on MHM. I can design a flyer in just 30 minutes. It brings in a lot of additional business. I’ve used flyers to promote our happy hour, maybe a theme night or holiday. It creates an immediate “wow” factor. I created my first takeout menu just last week. I can’t wait to see the results.

MHM: Why did you decide to use MHM’s Design Services for your latest menu?
Tracey: We decided to update three menus at the same time, breakfast, luncheon and dinner menu. I was really pressed for time. They were able to do in a few hours what would have taken me days to accomplish, with all the changes happening at once. The MHM Design Services team was very helpful and fast. But honestly, I really enjoy carving out the time to create menus myself.


Relaunch of New York Restaurant Chooses MHM for Custom Menu Design

Blog-CASE-STUDY-image-Spillane'sAfter 25 years in the food and beverage industry, General Manager Carey Chaney has seen a lot of change. That experience translates to an invaluable business savvy along with an in-depth understanding of a restaurant’s need to keep up with changing customer desires and sophistication. More importantly, she knows when it’s time to refresh. When Molly Spillane’s decided to re-launch their brand, Carey embraced the expertise of MHM’s Design Services team.

MHM: What was the main motivator in re-launching Molly’s brand?
Carey: Customers are more informed and concerned about their diet now. Their expectations are higher—better quality food, greater value, and superb service. When I started at Molly’s the menu didn’t reflect those standards. There was no menu accommodation for gluten-free, dairy-free or organic choices. People are much more discerning, now. They know the difference in quality, freshness, etc. and what is healthiest for them. If we don’t provide those choices, there are plenty of other restaurants that do. If a customer doesn’t see that we are willing to take care of their needs, they’ll go someplace else. And they won’t come back.

MHM: What criteria do you think is important when creating a menu based on customers higher standards? 
Carey: Menus now have to have a fresh look coupled with an eclectic offering in order to serve everyone’s needs. And that has to extend through the brand at all touch points. When we decided to refresh the menu we realized we needed to revisit the entire restaurant experience from the minute they walk in the door to dessert.

MHM: What happened as a result of the menu redesign?
Carey: Once we started looking at redesigning the menu and realized how the change would reflect on Molly’s brand, we began reviewing the entire dining experience, striking five points: 1) Greet quickly. 2) Accommodate discerning palates. 3) Deliver good quality. 4) Provide the best value. 5) Offer seamless service.

MHM: How familiar were you with MHM when you embarked on the re-launch?
When I joined Molly’s, the owner already had an account set up. They had been utilizing the MHM platform for all Spillane’s menus—at Molly’s alone, we revise our menus one to two times per week, including our beer and dessert menus. Spillane’s also has three other locations that use MHM to design their menus: Mickey’s, Maggie’s and Nellie’s. Each restaurant has its own select menu items at that location. Spillane’s restaurants have been around for nine years. Molly’s is the newest at six years.

MHM: How did your previous menu-making method differ from MHM’s online platform?
 At the last restaurant I managed, someone did the menu design in-house and then shipped it out to get printed. It took a week and a half. We had to be really good at planning ahead but it didn’t allow for any changes unless we did the whole process again. Our menu is five pages, including the cover. We create them as single, one-sided copies.

With MHM, I can bang out a customized menu in just 30 minutes. It’s pretty easy. At first, I spent a couple of weeks getting comfortable with spacing, margins, mixing a variety of fonts, and feeling more confident playing with backgrounds, borders, coloring and graphics. There are a lot of options to explore! I tried three or four themes I liked. Now I can make changes immediately, print it out and it’s done. We don’t use MHM’s printing feature only because it’s easier for us to print them in-house simply because of the frequency of menu updates.

MHM: Why did you decide to have Design Services create the menu instead of doing it yourself? 
Carey: With the Molly relaunch, we had just a three-day window to create an upscale menu with more offerings. Not only were we changing the menu in three days, we were changing our serving sizes, retraining our servers, and familiarizing everyone with the new menu offers, all in an effort to take our service and standards to next level. I felt my attention should be on the staff and servicing and trust the menu design to MHM.

MHM: How happy were you with MHM’s redesign? How did your customers respond?
Well, what I loved the most was working with Samantha in Design Services. She was great! And she made it fun. Our customers loved the new menu design. It was a masterpiece! They were very receptive to the new menu items, too. We make sure to touch base with every table in the dining room to get their feedback. It’s really important for customers to feel heard.

MHM: What other MHM features do you see exploring in the future?
Eventually, we will offer weekly specials and will need to create a menu for that. We also will need tri-fold menus. All the MHM benefits are great. We’re definitely getting our money’s worth out of the program.

Spanky’s Pub House Already Has Three MustHaveMenus (and A Kids’ Menu On the Way)

Blog-CASE-STUDY-Spanky-2Despite Spanky’s three-year success as a favorite Myrtle Beach destination for locals and resort visitors alike, owners Carrie and Bob Ross thought it was time to upgrade their menu. They wanted a fresh look to compliment their reputation for serving only freshly cooked pub food (no frozen-to-fryer fare like other pub establishments). Carrie admits she’s a numbers person, not a creative person. While she was happy to let go of the creative process she did not want to compromise her vision. Within a few hours of speaking with MHM’s Design Services she had exactly what she wanted…and more.

MHM: What drove your decision to use our Design Services?
Carrie: Friends of ours that own a restaurant in the area referred us to MHM. I was able to touch and feel their menu so I knew the quality was good. I had absolutely no reservations about the quality. But our friend’s menu is pretty complicated, with multiple columns, and I was a bit intimidated to attempt it myself, especially since I was looking to do more customization. The end result was beyond my skills. You have to understand, we ran a residential building business so I’m a numbers person, not a creative person. Additionally, I needed something “yesterday” and wasn’t able to give it the time needed. When I emailed Design Services they could see that I had started a couple of menus and got stuck. I signed up with membership so I could benefit from their member discounts and additional services.

MHM: What happened during your conversation with Design Services?
Carrie: They completely got me. I had tried explaining what I wanted via email but it just wasn’t translating. Once we had a chance to connect over the phone I was amazed at how quickly they were able to take my chosen template, customize it, and email me a rendition that represented exactly what I envisioned. And within hours!

MHM: How did your MHM experience differ from past menu creations using traditional resources?
Carrie: In the past, a friend of one of our bartenders would create our menus in her spare time. Timeliness was not an option. She did two menus for us. We told ourselves they were just temporary menus. The last “temporary” menu lasted 18 months. While it was free the trade off was a long drawn-out process. In contrast, after talking with MustHaveMenu’s team for just 30 minutes one Friday afternoon and providing menu information they needed to get started, we had a design layout to review by the following Tuesday. The final draft was complete within a week as compared to two and a half months with the previous scenario. The Design Services team was great to work with—friendly, responsive, and talented!

MHM: From a cost perspective, how did your MHM membership investment compare? 
Our design development investment was only $100. We then decided to have a take out menu created, too. At $561 for 100 full-color 8 1/2″ x 14″ menus with lamination, plus 2,500 trifold, full-color glossy take out menus, it was far less expensive than the cost of printing at our local Staples. What we learned was by paying a higher premium for printing and losing valuable time, we ended up spending more money in the past. Our investment in MHM was well worth every penny spent, hands down.


MHM: What other MustHaveMenus products and benefits have you utilized with your membership?
 Once we got the printed versions taken care of we didn’t hesitate to convert the menu for use on our Facebook page and website. In fact, the menu is our website (except for an illustration of Spanky, their 14-year old Boston Terrier mascot and the subject of their $8,000 merchandising revenue).

MHM: How were the new menus received?
Carrie: We introduced them at the beginning of November and our customers absolutely love them! We’ve gotten huge amounts of compliments. We used to have a 4-page menu in a plastic folder. It looked weathered and beaten. Our customers love how the thicker stock laminated menus look and feel—all snappy and new. It’s very exciting.

MHM: What’s next up for menus?
We’re definitely going to want to create a kids’ menu. We have a lot of families that are regulars and their children are our customers by default. We realize that those children are potential customers, as they become young adults. This time I am going to try to do the kids’ menu creation myself. Since MHM has so many fun templates to choose from and they make it super easy to do, even I can be creative!


Rosa’s Pizzeria Celebrates 5 Years and A New Menu Design

Rosas-Pizzeria-CASE-STUDYAt the approach of Rosa’s Pizzeria’s fifth year in business, General Manager Aaron Wind had a vision for a menu redesign but didn’t have the time to do it himself. He wanted to be able to work with someone who could take direction and create exactly what he envisioned, cooperatively and quickly. Working with independent designers in the past proved too expensive with less than desirable results.  

MHM: What prompted you to create a new menu?
Aaron: As we entered our 5th year in business, it became apparent that we needed to upgrade our entire line of menus.

MHM: Why did you decide to change your menu building process?
Aaron: We were fortunate that our business had grown and we needed our menu to reflect the look and feel of our restaurant, today. We had been using a generic template since 2011. It didn’t allow for customization at all. Everything from getting the text edited correctly, allowing room for graphics to making columns was a challenge. And we wanted something that looked like a menu instead of an office document. Traditional printing services don’t understand the nuances of menu building: font sizing, columns, graphics, enhancements, copying and editing text–those options were never on the table before until MustHaveMenus.

MHM: What were your concerns using our Design Services (DS) and what ultimately gave you confidence that they could meet your expectations?
 I chose to use the Design Services because I simply don’t have the time to build the menu myself. I was confident MHM would be able to create a great product based on their website/samples I had received. My main concern was about the attention to detail not working face-to-face with someone. However, it became immediately apparent that this was not going to be an issue. Within 24 hours of sending over my current menu (at the time), I had a draft on a themed template that I had selected. It didn’t work like I imagined. After selecting a new theme, I received another draft less than 24 hours later, which had been customized to fit my menu options. I appreciated that the thoughts I had exchanged via e-mail were being expressed on the menu design and that my desire for perfection was embraced and not seen as an annoyance. They ended up delivering in a big way. We ended up creating a whole new line of menus; an in-house menu, a kids menu, a dessert menu, and to-go menus.

MHM: Was the cost of membership worth the benefit of working with DS?
The cost of membership was easily worth it. I’ve spent much more money in the past for much less talented design help. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would cost me to pay an independent designer to do this task, but I know it certainly wouldn’t have been in my budget. The turnaround time was exceptional. Oftentimes, I would request changes and they would be done within hours of when I submitted them. That was my favorite part of the experience: how personal it was but at the same time, incredibly efficient. We completed an entire set of menus from start to finish in less time than I’ve spent creating a single menu at a traditional office print center in the past. I am so pleased that I chose to work with Must Have Menus.

MHM: What stands out the most for you about your MustHaveMenus experience?
 What I appreciated the most was how quickly the Design Services team was able to work on my menus and make changes when I requested. They were very detail-oriented and executed to perfection the vision I had in my head. I was just so thrilled with the level of customer service and the speed and efficiency in which they produced my menus. It felt like I was their only client and they had a vested interest in the menus themselves. I have received wonderful feedback from my guests already — commenting on how clean and easy to read they are, as well as the nice use of colors.

MHM: How do you see MustHaveMenus’ role in the future?
 I can’t imagine using anybody else for my menu needs going forward. It’s such a relief knowing I have a business partner that will alleviate a lot of the stress that goes into menu creation in the future. I now look forward to updating my menu in the future to keep up with guest demands, seasons, food cost and everything else that goes into creation. I look forward to a long partnership with Must Have Menus. Thank you, MHM!



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.”

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.”

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.

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.


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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