MustHaveMenus Blog

Category: ‘Design’

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.

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.

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 ›

Maximize Your Restaurant Profits on Mother’s Day with Facebook

Mother’s Day is just over a month away and now is the right time to make the most of the busiest restaurant day of the year. That starts with smart marketing. Today’s post will give you some tips and tricks on how to make the most of your profits on Mother’s Day with Facebook. Keep Reading ›

How Facebook Timeline Boosts Your Restaurant Business

In case you haven’t heard, Facebook is changing how pages look and act with Facebook Timeline, which becomes mandatory March 30. This upgrade is designed to make it easier for your fans to interact with your page and your menu. For you, that means more customers on your page and more business!

Today’s tips are on how Facebook’s Timeline helps you build your brand and credibility.

1. Tell your story in dates.

One of the new Facebook updates is that your customers can see your history and your story in a Timeline. This means they can see where you came from and where you’re going. Adding this element to your fan page gives your brand a story and helps you build credibility.

For instance, when you say you are the leading caterer in your area for outdoor weddings, you can send the potential customer a link to your wedding catering photo album. They can see the dates and may even know the people in your photos.

MustHave – Dates on your photos, posts, events on all new posts and past posts. Take a few minutes to check dates and locations. It will help improve your story.

2. Set your milestones – like Easter.

Milestones are memorable moments in your restaurant’s history – your grand opening, a new location, an annual charity fundraiser or event such as a Cinco de Mayo fiesta or Mother’s Day brunch.

Setting milestones is simple. You just click milestone in the status update bar and add the details. Facebook even gives you the option to tag a photo or upload a significant photo to document the milestone.

MustHave – Be sure your founding date is on your Facebook Timeline. The first time you post a milestone, you’ll be asked to update this info.

3. Encourage fans to utilize the Timeline.

“Talking about this” is a newer Facebook measurement tool, which you can see under your restaurant’s name on your page or in the new Admin Panel. This new tool can help you identify how people are using your page. First of all, it’s much more visible when you are inactive for more than a day or so.

When you have at least 30 customers talking about your page in a seven-day period, you can see details about them – how many men versus women and breakdown by age group.

This is valuable information for your page posts and marketing. When you understand who is visiting your page and responding to your posts, you can better target your posts and promotions.

So, how do you get more customers talking about your page?

  • Call them to action in your posts. Be very specific about what you want them to do with posts like, “Check in when you dine with us to enter a monthly drawing for free dinner.”
  • Ask customers to share the page or event with their friends. This is especially useful when you are running a promotion or contest.
  • Ask them to post their pictures. For instance, if a couple had a proposal last night at your restaurant, ask them to tag your location in the pictures. Or be proactive and take your own photo. Be sure to get the customers’ names and tag them (with their permission, of course). Moves like this can earn you likes and “talking about this” credits.

MustHave – Create actionable content on your Timeline. Ask questions, ask for photos and ask for shares/likes. You’ll get much more engagement this way and reach more customers.

4. Highlight posts to cross the Timeline.

You have the option to make a post span the Timeline, meaning that it will stretch across the two columns of your new Facebook page. This is a great way to highlight something big on your timeline such as your St. Patrick’s Day shindig or your Easter brunch promo.

Highlighting a post is simple! All you do is click the star in the upper right corner of the post, and the post will span your timeline.

Something to remember – you can only highlight a post or pin a post – not both. We recommend that you experiment with highlighting and pinning to see what engages your restaurant’s customers more.

MustHave – Be sure to add visuals such as a flyer or photo to draw customer eyes to your highlighted post.

Next Steps: Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page to see how we’re making the most of Timeline and check out how you can make your menu more Facebook friendly.

Photo Credit: GusF

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Design of the Week: Frozen Cocktail Menu + How to Promote Your Signature Drinks

Frozen Cocktail Menu of the week


This week’s Design of the Week features a Frozen Cocktail Menu. This cocktail menu’s black and green design elements speak elegance, which is perfect for the upscale bar. You can get this fab menu out and about in minutes with the Menu Editor. Just click, update and print! It’s so simple.

Summertime is a great time to introduce a new cocktail menu and a signature frozen drink.

Here are ideas for promoting your signature drink:

  • Facebook. Post pictures on Facebook of the customers who try your drink at your restaurant, and quote them on what they want to say about the drink.
  • Frozen drink menu. Make a menu that focuses only on frozen drinks for the summer. Highlight the signature drink by putting it on the top of the menu.
  • Drink of the week. Select a frozen concoction and give it a special price. Let the customers vote on which drink they like best and make it the drink of the week! You can see how many likes it gets on Facebook to track the popularity.
  • Bring a friend. Pick a night of the week like Thursday to make your signature drink 2-for-1. Be sure to Tweet, Facebook and invite your email list on in!

How are you promoting your specialty drink?

5 Last-Minute Promotions for Memorial Day

Memorial day table tent

Memorial Day is approaching fast! That means it’s time to break out all the barbeque and ribs you can to satisfy your guests. Above we have a red, white, and blue table tent that is perfect for promoting your specials. It’s easy to update online and print in minutes with the Menu Editor. If you’re ambitious, you could get them on your tables today.  Every mall, car dealership, and fire works warehouse will be having a sale so people will be out and about. Take advantage of hungry deal shoppers with these five, last-minute Memorial Day promotion ideas:

  1. BBQ Party Package. BBQ is a great way to feed a huge party for a small amount of money. Promote a party package that includes the slaw, potato salad and beans. Oh yeah, don’t forget the banana pudding.
  2. Veterans. Make sure we don’t forget the reason we are celebrating today. Invite local veterans to eat at your restaurant for free! You still have time to run this promo on Facebook.
  3. Flags for kids. Give a mini American flag to every kid that walks in the door to show how patriotic your restaurant is.
  4. Coloring contest. Hand out coloring books with red, white, and blue crayons. Hold a coloring contest for the kids to win a free ice cream scoop. Send the winning drawings to the local media.
  5. Drinks. If you have a bar or a pub, let soldiers and veterans drink half price. This is another great Facebook and Twitter promo.

How will your restaurant be celebrating Memorial Day? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Design of the Week: Cafe Bistro Happy Hour Menu + How to Make Happy Hour Happier

Cafe Bistro Happy Hour Menu

The bright and fun colors in this week’s Design of the Week – a cafe Bistro Happy Hour menu – got us in the mood for happy hour. It’s sure to perk up sales between the hours of  3 and 7 p.m. Happy Hour also is a way to bring in new customers and build your business. With our extensive portfolio of restaurant marketing designs, you can create menus, flyers and even business cards in minutes with the Menu Editor.

So here are some tips on how to make your happy hour happier:

  1. Advertise. Hand out flyers (this week’s design makes a good one), and don’t forget your four walls and table tents. And, be sure to post specials socially (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.). Incentivize servers to sell the most margaritas during Happy Hour and have them hand out cards with a QR code linking to your Facebook page for Happy Hour specials. Send an email or Facebook update around 3:30 p.m. because many of your customers will be getting off of work thinking of where to go to wind down.
  2. Eat and drink. Consider pairing food and drinks for Happy Hour specials. You could also do a reverse side of the happy hour menu above with bar food offerings.
  3. Discount. Make sure the discount is worth it to the customer. Try using a popular discount like 2-for-1 specials.
  4. Music. You want your customers to let go and have fun. Pick a night or afternoon out of the week and host live karaoke, or a live band.
  5. Specialty drinks. Give your bartenders creative license to make up a drink that will appeal to your customers. Involve customers by letting them pick your new drink in a Facebook contest. You’ll want to post pictures!
  6. Partner with a local business group such as the shops and offices around you for an after-hours cocktail event. Provide the food and offer great Happy Hour specials. Oh yeah, make sure you collect business cards if you cater. This is a great opportunity to do a little networking of your own. It’s also a great opportunity to show off your banquet and party spaces.

What will you do to make your Happy Hour happier?

National Egg Month – A Great Reason to Promote Breakfast

breakfast buffet menu

May is National Egg Month and it’s a great reason to promote breakfast in your restaurant. It’s easy to do with our breakfast menu templates. Here are five ways you can use breakfast to gain

  • Ask your social following to vote for their favorite egg dish. This is the time of year magazines and newspapers start their best of campaigns. Get a head start on spreading the buzz about your incredibly yellow fare.
  • Roll out a new breakfast menu. Even if you have breakfast on your regular menu, a nice insert like the one above allows you to call attention to breakfast. This buffet breakfast menu is a great option because you can update it in minutes with the Menu Editor. Plus, you can add your own logo. Learn how the Menu Editor works here.
  • Generate some breakfast meeting contacts. Want to really dazzle some executive types? Get a list together of the HR people in the immediate  area (3-5 mile radius of your restaurant). This is easily done by having a staff member stop by or call the list of companies you can find by doing a Google search on “companies near Insert Your Address.” You can give them some coupons or business cards. See the screenshot below for a few examples:

restaurant coupon templates

  • Send email reminders each month. When you get introduced to the above contacts, get their email addresses. Set up an email campaign called Meeting Specials. Send out a reminder at the beginning of the month reminding them of upcoming events and your willingness to deliver or the fact that you’re the only place open before 7 a.m. for breakfast meetings. (This is true in my area. I know that’s why one restaurant started serving breakfast. It’s a competitive differentiator.)
  • Post your eggcellent specials in pictures on Facebook. Research from Vitrue, an Atlanta-based social marketing firm, shows that Facebook posts with pictures have a 54% better engagement rate. If you’ve put the camera on the backburner, pull out an iPhone and start post pics with those egg specials today.

How Online Menu Software Helps You Tell a Better Story

Rebecca Pollack Scherr revealed that most restaurants provide a separate kids menu for the little ones in the Restaurant SmartBrief weekly poll. In her recap of all that’s happening in kids menu land right now, she wrote that restaurants, chefs, federal agencies and other foodservice professionals are working to tell a better story than fried chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese on the kids menu.

This got me to thinking about how our customers can use their MustHaveMenus online menu software subscription to make a better kids’ menu. We make an effort to give our customers lots of options in kids’ menu choices. Kids’ menus are actually in the top 10 menu template types on our site.

Today, I took a tour of our kids’ menu samples and came up with few ways to help you tell your healthier kids’ menu story in just a few minutes.

Tell the Story of Exercise

kids party menu template

This kids party menu template gives kids some fun jokes about being outside and being active. Using this menu, you can show kids that activity and healthy options are fun. Our advice (listed in the sample menu text) is to give kids lots of healthy options alongside their favorites.

While the menu itself is not going to change a kids mind about what they eat, the healthy lifestyle imagery is a conversation starter for kids and parents. In essence, the design is the beginning of a healthy story time for the kids.

Tell the Story of What Goes on a Healthy Plate


kids chef menu

Our chef kids menu template can help the server tell a healthy story for the little patrons of your restaurant. He or she can ask the kids to draw a fruit, veggie and meat on the plate as a way to remember their order. The games on this template also teach kids about what happens in a restaurant.

Marketing Tip: This little menu is a good tool for chefs to to kids and parents about the importance of picking healthy options.

Tell the Story of Fun & Conversation

kids menu game template

Not only should the kids menu give kids healthy options, it should give kids the opportunity to have a conversation with their family. Conversations about the food they order, the activities on the page and the creativity kids show in their self-portrait helps kids learn. Kids learn from talking about the things they read, draw and see. A kids game menu can be a stepping stone for those conversations.

How Our Menu Editor Online Software Helps

We produce menus based on our customers’ needs and we know that helping kids and families make better choices is at the top of the list. We want you to have conversation starting designs that are easy to update in minutes. Get started with telling a better kids menu story here.

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