MustHaveMenus Blog

Category: ‘Design’

How to Hire a Restaurant Menu Designer – The Portfolio Review

Welcome to part two of our five-part series on how to hire a restaurant menu designer. Each week, we’ll walk you through how to hire a restaurant menu designer. We have a team of designers here to help you with Made to Order menu designs, but moreover, we’re here to help you get the best marketing resources for your restaurant. That’s why we want you to understand what’s important in hiring a designer from start to finish.

Today, we’re going to look at the design portfolio review. This step is crucial and you need to look for five elements in a winning design portfolio. Let’s get started.

  1. The variety of projects. One way to see a designer’s ability is to view a variety of samples. You’re looking for a designer that has a portfolio of designs in your industry, but you’re also looking for flexibility in designing for a variety of concepts.
  2. The ability to present unique concepts. You don’t want to just see different color schemes. You want to see completely different designs. A great designer will use a much different approach in each concept.
  3. Showcasing the design process. If a designer can show you the process from concept to final design in his or her portfolio, you will gain an understanding of how to work with them. Seeing early work shows you how the designer handles revisions and provides creative feedback when a menu needs a little something or something is not quite working.
  4. Discussion of how they arrived at the concept. A good designer is not just artistic. He or she can tell you the story behind their designs. Discussion should include the why behind color choices, the experience the restaurant menu portrays and the style of the place.
  5. Discussion of the elements that make the designs work. This is key to understanding how the designer will approach your project. A good designer will talk about the research behind the design samples – restaurant type, target audience and what the client envisioned.

Design of the Week: Cafe Mother’s Day Flyer


mother's day brunch flyer

It’s almost time for Mother’s Day. How will you let your cafe customers know? With a cafe Mother’s Day flyer, of course!

This bright, beautiful design is sure to attract attention and remind customers to book their reservations or join you for Mom’s special day.

Get this flyer updated with your details and to the printer in minutes with the Menu Editor, our exclusive online menu software.

Not the right flyer? No problem! Check out our other Mother’s Day flyer and menu designs here.

Need something even more customized? Check out our new Made to Order Design Service here.

Easter’s Over, Now Get Ready for Mother’s Day

mother's day brunch flyerIf you’ve checked your email today, the Mother’s Day campaigns are out. What about yours?

What are you doing to attract guest on the number one eating out day of the year? More than 60 percent of Americans will be eating out, according to the National Restaurant Association.

You have two weeks from yesterday. Here are three things you need to do by Wednesday, if you haven’t started getting your promotion in order.

  1. Create a Mother’s Day menu or flyer. Prix fixe menus are a popular choice for Mom’s special day. Check out our collection here. Consider adding the gratuity in the total price. A recent study says this is much more favorable than listing it separately.
  2. Send an email or mail a reminder to last year’s list. Remind them that you want to share Mom’s special day again. Showcase a dish or give them a discount to thank them for their loyalty. You can get them out tomorrow with our restaurant coupon templates (it fits in a greeting card envelope) and the Menu Editor.
  3. Get some flyers printed and distributed to your immediate 3 to 5-mile radius. Most people probably haven’t made a reservation. If you or a staff member shows up at the local office park with a stack of flyers on a Mother’s Day promotion, don’t you think at least a few are going to make reservations? Here are some ideas for flyers.
  4. Get your social profiles up-to-date with your promotion. Again, no one has booked a reservation, but they will be SOON. Get top of mind.
  5. Send a press release or calendar announcement to your local media. People look at the online listings, newspaper websites, magazines on what’s going on while they are waiting for the dentist, doctor or other appointment. Take advantage of this wait time. (Add these to the step 3 list). Also, check out these “around town” Facebook pages, etc. for opportunities to showcase your event.

Even if you haven’t done anything so far, you still have time to promote Mother’s Day. Add to your bottom line without spending a lot and take advantage of the busiest restaurant day of the year.

How to Hire a Restaurant Menu Designer – A Five Part Series

hire a menu designerWhen it comes to your menu, design is really important. Your menu design needs to showcase your brand, food and experience in the best light possible.

You spent lots of money developing your concept and recipes; so don’t take this decision lightly. Hiring a menu designer may be one of the most important steps you will take as a restaurant owner. In this five-part series, we’ll walk you through how to hire a restaurant menu designer. We have a team of designers here to help you with Made to Order menu designs, but moreover we’re here to help you get the best marketing resources for your restaurant. That’s why we want you to understand what’s important in hiring a designer from start to finish.

Here’s a sneak peak at the series outline:

  • Understanding what kind of designer you need.
  • What to look for when reviewing a designer’s portfolio.
  • What you need to bring to the table to get a winning restaurant menu design.
  • Understanding the design lingo so you can communicate your needs better to save time and money.
  • How to work with a designer during the design process (handling revisions, concepts and payment).

Part One: Understanding what kind of designer you need.

Menu design falls into three categories – logo, engineering and creativity. Not every designer creates logos and not every designer is an expert in print menu design, so you need to talk about these three categories when you interview a designer.

1) Logo

If you don’t have a logo, you may want to start here. Your logo needs to give a customer an image of what your business is all about.

Good logo design is made up of five elements:

  • You can describe it.
  • You can scale it (make it bigger or smaller and still read it).
  • Memorable. When your customer sees your logo, they know it’s you.
  • Looks just as good in black and white as it does in color.
  • It’s relevant to your business and industry. For example, you don’t want a sombrero if you serve Italian food.

Hiring Tip: A good designer will walk you through these five elements when providing you a logo concept.

2) Engineering

A good designer will know something about menu engineering. He or she will know that a menu should be organized for profitability, not just art. Read about the basics of menu engineering yourself and ask the following questions when you speak with a designer:

  • How will you showcase foods with high profitability?
  • How will you use design to call attention to specials?
  • How will you “hide” lower profit items on the menu?
  • How do you think a menu should be organized?

Hiring Tip: A good designer won’t be opposed to a little art direction in name of menu profitability. If you get push-back, you may want to consider the potential working relationship.

3) Creativity

The layout of your menu works hand-in-hand with menu engineering, but its ultimate dependent factor is the design. A pleasing design is just as important as calling out items for their sales profitability. Here are some questions you will want to ask:

  • Can you show me some examples of how you worked around a menu design problem?
  • What do you look for when you eat at a restaurant? What makes the design work for you?
  • What do you think of our existing menu? What recommendations can you make off the top of your head?

Hiring Tip: You’ll learn a lot about a designer when you ask them open-ended questions and for their recommendations. Their answers will speak to their experience.


7 Signs Your Menu Needs a Design Makeover

stop the menu design madness

It’s time to stop the design madness and give your menu a makeover. If you commit any of the seven sins of bad menu design, we can help. Let’s get started.

Comic Sans font. You do not want this font anywhere near your menu. It’s reserved specifically for elementary school teacher newsletters. And there’s a documentary against it.


Paryrus font. This font is the stereotype of stereotypes for Greek restaurants. (There’s even a blog about the overuse of this font.) If you’re truly Greek and serve a mean gyro, you deserve something more creative. Such as this classy menu.

Dollar signs. Want to scare off your customers from the higher-profit items? Just attach a dollar sign to the price. There’s even a study to back this up. Read it right here.

Clipart. If you’re using the Microsoft Windows clipart collection to illustrate your menu, stop right now. Check out our collection of designer-quality graphics for your menu.

No logo or type treatment for your name. If you don’t have a logo or stylized treatment for your restaurant, you may as well not have a restaurant. A logo gives you an identity. We have a team of designers to get you started with MustHaveMenus Made to Order.

Curly fonts. Fonts have to be easy to read, especially in dim lighting. Try the squint test to see if you can read your menu. Learn more about it in this recent interview with our art director.

Too many pictures. When you have too much going on in the menu photography, your customer doesn’t know where to look. Don’t be afraid to only showcase a few dishes or none at all. Copy and servers are there to help describe food. Samples never hurt either.

We would love to help you makeover your menu. Check out our new Made to Order custom menu, flyer and logo design service packages here. And, join our Facebook community to get free menu design tips each weekday.

Design of the Week: Traditional Easter Brunch Menu + Last Minute Easter Ideas

traditional easter brunch menu

Are you ready for the crowds? Get ready for your Easter buffet brunch with our Design of the Week. A traditional brunch menu featuring beautiful tulips makes the perfect statement this Easter.

Update it easily with the Menu Editor. You can update and print in just minutes.

Need some last minute ideas for Easter promotions? Sign up for the Fresh Sheet, our weekly e-mail newsletter that’s certain to give you an idea or two to help you grow your business. This week we’re featuring last minute Easter email marketing ideas.

Don’t miss our 33 ideas for Easter promotions from last week.

Tell us about your Easter promotions on Facebook and don’t miss our daily menu design tips.

Online Menu Software vs. Menu Software Downloads

What’s the easiest way to get a new menu in 2011? Online menu software. That’s the topic of our continuing series.

One of my deep, dark secrets is that I know a little bit of this and that about the software industry. There are battles between the software-as-a-service and installed software companies of the world. It’s easy to take the side of either in marketing positioning, but at the end of the day online software really benefits small businesses.

And, that’s the definition your budget applies to your business. It’s expensive to buy fancy design software. It’s also hard to use. See our recent article on this.

Yes, I work for MustHaveMenus and I’m a little biased toward our online menu software, but I have also worked with hundreds of small business owners in the past. When it comes to technology, they like it cheap, effective and simple.

Cost is often the biggest concern of food service businesses, and it’s understandable. Our industry is one based on highly variable customers and expenses. So, when it comes to any purchase, we spend our dollars wisely. From a cost standpoint, an online menu service that gives you access to a library of thousands of great designs with fill-in-the-blank web forms makes the most sense.

What are the alternatives?

Downloaded menu design software

  • Cost – The downloaded options we researched either come as part of a larger bundle or their cost is exorbitant. When the cost is upwards of $400 to $500, it’s easy to see how an online option makes more sense.
  • Designs – We couldn’t find a downloadable menu product with the depth and quality of designs you get with MustHaveMenus.
  • Ease of Use – Downloaded menu software comes in two skill levels – drag and drop or requires a certification course or design degree.

Hiring a designer with the fancy design software

  • Cost – The designer option is going to cost you if you want quality. Average designer rates are about $75-$125 per hour. Three concepts will run you over $300.
  • Designs – You can’t beat the one-on-one attention of a designer. That’s why we have pro designers on staff dedicated to restaurant and food service designs. We even have a very affordable custom option. Check out our new Made to Order design service for custom food service logos, menus and flyers. (Plus, you still get access to our thousands of design templates.)
  • Ease of Use – When you’re working with a designer, he or she is doing the work. However, you lose control of the timing and revisions. You also have to find a designer, which can be a process all in itself.

Template sites where you download pre-designed menus and flyers

The concept is similar to what MHM does. We offer you menu templates, but we give you the option to either update it with our Menu Editor online or download template for a very common program – Microsoft Word.

Other sites have this ability as well. However, they have some drawbacks when you apply our small business formula.

  • Cost – The cost of most the downloadable templates are typically equal to a year of access to MHM templates.
  • Designs – Most template sites are not dedicated strictly to menu templates. Often, they have an assortment of businesses they want to serve with a few templates for each specialty area.
  • Ease-of-Use – Probably the simplest option for the downloadables, the templates often come in Microsoft Word or a program you already own. However, sometimes the designs are so layered (a design term), it’s sometimes hard to make changes without messing it up.

If you want the most bang for your buck, best designs and easiest to use menu software, check out what we have to offer.




What to Look for in a Menu Company

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. Your menu is your billboard. If you don’t have a great menu, you’re not giving your customers the best representation of your food, service or experience.

That’s why you should choose a menu design company wisely. Here are five tips for you on what to look for in a menu company:

Professionalism and focus on one area of design.

Sure, most designers are flexible and creative. However, when you work with a specialist or team of specialists, you get experience. Experience speaks volumes when you’re working on something as scientific as food service menu design. Our designers are focused on giving you fresh designs for restaurant marketing success.

The option for customization and on-the-fly changes.

The restaurant business is fast-paced. Prices and menu items change. But that shouldn’t stop restaurateurs, caterers or club managers from updating their menus to maintain professionalism and profits. One of the most common complaints we hear is the turnaround time or fees to make a change in a design.

For restaurants with slim margins, limited staff and a slim marketing budget, it’s important to be cost-effective in your professional services. MustHaveMenus gives our customers the option to purchase a subscription to our templates and a custom design service for logos, menus and flyers. The beauty of our Design Services is that we load your design into your MHM account. You can make simple changes and updates from within the Menu Editor software at no additional charge. Plus, we give you access to our entire database of templates when you work with our designers one-on-one.

A web presence.

A web presence is more than just a website. A good menu design company will share tips, tricks and be involved in social media. For example, MustHaveMenus is highly involved in social media and dedicated to providing our customers useful content such as:

  • Facebook Community – We share articles, design ideas and videos on how to use our templates and market your restaurant, catering or food service business.
  • Menu Design & Restaurant Marketing Blog – We consider this the hub of our online communications. We share tips, tricks and ideas for growing your restaurant or foodservice business 4-5 times a week.
  • Twitter – We Tweet about restaurant menu design news, ideas and interact with others in our space to bring you even more ideas.
  • Weekly E-Newsletter – The Fresh Sheet is a free weekly communication with to-the-point marketing ideas and a featured design template.
  • New design templates every week – We have a packed production schedule based on requests from our customers and social media audience.
  • The Menu Editor – We want our service to be so easy to use that we’ve developed an online software program for our customers to edit and save their menu templates anywhere they go.

What do you think makes a good menu design company? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Design of the Week: Best Easter Brunch Menu + Promotion Tips

easter brunch menuIt’s just three weeks until Easter. Are you ready for the customers who will choose to dine out? It’s not too late to put together your best Easter brunch menu to take the stress out of cooking for your customers.

Get an Easter Brunch Menu in Minutes

That’s just want you can do with our Design of the Week. Featuring his best a light brown and yellow page decorated with floral images, this elegant menu can enhance your Easter feast. And, it’s easy to prepare with the Menu Editor. You can have a new menu ready to get on the tables this weekend in under 30 minutes.

Ideas for Promoting Your Easter Brunch

  1. Start promoting your brunch inside the restaurant this week. Check out our Easter flyer designs.
  2. Send an e-mail update to customers letting them know you’ll be open. Emphasize the importance of spending time with family, instead of worrying about cooking the ham.
  3. Post a Facebook event. Add two or three updates a week about the special Easter brunch. Tweet it every day (if you are on Twitter).
  4. Submit a calendar announcement to the newspapers about your brunch and Easter egg hunt (if you are having one). You’ll at least end up in the calendar section. You may end up in a wrap up article of “Who’s Open on Easter.” A call to the local paper to see if they are doing such an article may either get one on the press or get you in it. You do need to call this week on this.

Are you open on Easter? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments below.

New Menu Editor Training Video – How to Update a Springtime Specials Menu

Learn how to use our online menu software to edit your new spring specials menu in minutes. Print it just in time for brunch on Sunday.

Check out the template here or view other spring menus here.