MustHaveMenus Blog

Category: ‘Industry News’

5 Foodie Vocab Words You Should Know

aioli cropped

Foodie might be an overused word right now, but it’s still one to wear as a badge of honor. Legendary chef and food lover Julia Child summed it up perfectly: “People who love to eat are always the best people.” And being the best means having a truly confident culinary vocabulary! Here are 5 foodie words to know, so you can keep your menu masterful.

An oldie but a goodie, aioli has been around since the late 1800s in Mediterranean fare. More recently, it has captured the imagination of modern chefs, who include it on their menus with everything from onion rings to prime cuts of steak. There is some debate among culinary purists about the accurate recipe for aioli; the name itself means “oil and garlic” but the inclusion of egg yolks and lemon juice is common. While many aiolis contain other flavoring, the truest version of aioli contains no seasoning other than garlic.

A liqueur made from cynani (the bitter chemical found in artichokes) may seem unorthodox, but like Amaro or any other Italian herbal liqueur, the benefits of this brew outweigh any weirdness. No stranger to versatility, Cynar is often mixed with orange juice and can be enjoyed as an àperitif, cocktail, or digestive. For mixed drinks, this liqueur offers a full flavor profile with a sweet honey beginning before the herbal finish. Low alcohol content also means that Cynar adds flavor without packing a strong punch. Salute!

Pronounced with a hard G (like “gift”), ghee is a trending alternative to standard butter. Ghee is a “clarified butter” prepared by simmering butter to separate the milk solids. The fat becomes caramelized which results in a nutty flavor. Popular as a component of South Asian and Arabic menus, ghee has become internationally prized for its low smoke point and used as a substitute for vegetable oil in many recipes. Not only is ghee shelf stable, it is also lactose free and has many health benefits!

A close sibling of the banana, the plantain is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient for tasty restaurant fare. Served cooked, plantains resemble green bananas but are often smaller and have a thicker skin that can appear black when ripened. As fruits go, this one is very low in sugar and has a starchy, durable texture that can be used to great effect in both sweet and savory dishes.

Ube (Purple Yam)
This sweet tuber is currently taking the culinary world by storm and starting to appear on menus around the world. Hailing from Filipino and Indian cooking, the purple yam is used in a variety of desserts for both its flavor and rich, natural color. One of the most popular uses for ube in the Philippines is in Halo-Halo (Haluhalo), a dessert served in a tall glass featuring shaved ice, evaporated milk, coconut, nuts, and fruit.

3 Things to Do to Improve the Dining Experience

Extensive series in a barbeque restaurant.  Multi-ethnic group includes Caucasian, African American and Indian models.  Friends having fun, and a family as well.

When you run a restaurant, you’re not just in the business of feeding people. You’re in the business of creating an experience—one that will keep your customers coming back again and again.

Here are three simple yet powerful steps you can take to improve that experience, and to get your restaurant’s diners back to the table more often.

1. Empower Your Front-of-House Staff

When employees know they have your trust, they’re better able to earn your customers’ trust in turn. Give your servers and other front of house staff the power to make up for minor problems without needing to run it by management, and let them comp a dessert here and there just because.

You can still set the guidelines, but give your waitstaff freedom and flexibility to work within them. Let them know you trust them to make the right choices for your restaurant, and they’ll wear their new empowerment with pride—and translate it into five-star service for each and every table.

2. Make a Better Menu

Davis_Ale_House_MenuToo many dining establishments see menus as a means to an end, rather than a core part of the dining experience. Your menu is your customers’ gateway to everything you have to offer; if it’s unappealing, confusing, or plain old dull, you’re creating low expectations for the entire meal.

There’s no cookie-cutter method to effective menu creation; every restaurant needs to figure out what their clientele wants in their meal and their experience, then design their menu accordingly. With a carefully customized menu, you’ll clue customers in to exactly what they can expect. They’ll be ready for their experience to match up to the menu’s promise.

3. Build a Stronger Brand

Many restaurateurs hear the word “brand” and immediately think of tacky color schemes and logos stamped on every square inch of their building. While logos (used correctly) and color schemes (good ones) are important branding elements, they’re just the beginning.

Effective branding ties everything together, creating a cohesive experience that starts at your restaurant’s exterior and stays strong through service. A strong brand gives you control over how your customers see your business and respond to your marketing efforts, and helps them build a relationship with you rather than seeing you as just one more option when they’re feeling hungry.

A good brand involves everything you do, from menus to decor to how your staff interacts with customers. It informs everything your restaurant does and communicates, during open hours and in your offsite outreach. You can start building a better brand and menu today by getting started with MustHaveMenus, or reading some of our other articles for specific, actionable tips that will take your restaurant wherever you want it to go.

How MHM Handles 5 Million Menu Updates Monthly

5 million menu updates every month. This is the number we’ve come to, and it keeps growing.

Our restaurants power their websites with our high-resolution, print-ready, mobile-friendly menus, plus MHM for Facebook. This means that we have to eliminate processing delays to ensure no lost business for our restaurants.

When a menu is updated, we take a number of steps.

  1. Create a point-in-time snapshot so you can go back to an old version.
  2. Replicate your new menu data and back it up.
  3. Process the menu design and graphical images, and reprocess your online services that are linked from your website.

Yes, this happens over 5 million times per month.

MustHaveMenus is able to do this instantaneously, without any waiting for long network updates and menu reprocessing. Your menus, PDFs, mobile menu, and Facebook pages stay online and receive the latest changes, even if your menu design changes, or you add new ones.

We’ve implemented a number of backend systems to keep restaurant menus up and running for fast response times and during heavy loads. For instance, our Menu Builder 2.0 is actually sprawled across a network of NoSQL database nodes, called Couchbase, which lets thousands of restaurants simultaneously update their menus at once. More than that, we’re able to grow and keep up with all of the new demands of our restaurant members.

(For the technically inclined, we chose Couchbase over Mongo for it’s MVCC approach to data-writes, plus it’s auto-sharding cluster management.)


If you have not put your restaurant menus in the cloud with MHM, let us help your business and bring new eaters. It’s easy to get started.

New Look And New Themes

This month we’ve launched a new look for the Menu Builder 2.0. Here’s a quick overview of what’s new & improved:

1. The workspace is simplified.
The navigation has moved to the top, making it easier to view your content and the menu preview side-by-side. And instead of toolbars and buttons spread around the workspace, now they are all contained on the left.

The new & improved workspace has tools on the left, preview on the right.

The new & improved workspace has tools on the left, preview on the right.

Controls are now easier to find.

Controls are now easier to find.

2. Tools are more discoverable.
Some of the tools have been reorganized to make them easier to find. For example, you’ll now find Fonts, Spacing, and Columns settings under Styles. The control for “hide background” now lives under Graphics. If you have any trouble finding the tool you need, our service team will be happy to help (1-800-452-2234).

No more delays for auto-refresh.

No more delays for auto-refresh.

3. Refresh preview is now manual.
Instead of auto-refreshing the preview every few seconds, we’ve turned the control over to you. Now you decide when you are ready to see the latest version of your preview.  No need to slow down for auto-refresh. This change makes the menu-building experience faster and simpler.

4. New Themes to choose from.
Themes are designs created by our professional menu design team. They offer inspiration and a starting point for your custom menu needs. We’re adding new options to the collection every week. If you have a favorite design you’d like to use in Menu Builder 2.0 but you don’t see it in the theme gallery yet, just give us a call.  Click here to see the newest designs.

New themes are added daily.

New themes are added daily.

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.

15 Common Restaurant Menu Typos

Food words often have tricky spellings, thanks to their far-flung linguistic origins. But typos on menus are distracting to customers and detract from your overall sense of quality dining. Double-check your menu for these common mistakes.

1. caesar

The emperor of salads is a tough one to type. A before e.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos caesar salad

2. bruschetta

This classic Italian appetizer is hard to spell and pronounce (it’s brew-sket-ta), but don’t skip that c in the middle.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos bruschetta

3. homemade

Same goes for housemade – it’s written as a single word.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos homemade

4. tomato / tomatoes

To-may-to, to-mah-to…however you say it, there’s only one correct spelling. That pesky e only makes its appearance in the plural.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos tomato

5. jalapeño

This pepper comes from Mexico, where ñ is a different letter than n. To use this symbol on your menu, find it on the Character Map (on a pc) or Character Palette (Mac), or use Insert > Symbol in Microsoft Word and copy it into your menu.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos jalapeno

6. iced tea

Ice up that tea, and don’t forget the d.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos iced tea

7. vinaigrette

This classic salad dressing is made with vinegar, but not spelled the same.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos vinaigrette

8. aioli

Yes, there are a lot of vowels involved, but sound it out and you’ll get them in the right order.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos aioli

9. breadstick

Nom nom nom. Everyone loves breadsticks. Hitch the words together with no space between.
MustHaveMenus_MenuMustHaveMenus Menu Typos breadstick

10. broccoli

This cruciferous green has a double helping of c – Vitamin C, in fact.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos broccoli

11. ciabatta

Ciao baguettes, ciabatta is the new favorite bread in town.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos ciabatta

12. raspberry

Beware the silent p in these sweet berries.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos raspberry

13. fettuccine

Italian words use double-consonant combos all over the place (mozzarella is another good example), so double-check your spellings.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos fettuccine

14. filet

Like salmon and veal, filet has a single l.
MustHaveMenus Menu Typos filet

15. whipped cream

A whip is the tool you use, but the cream is whipped.
MustHaveMenus_Menu Typos whipped cream

Make Facebook Work for Your Restaurant

Hook customers with snappy posts and tempting photos

Most of the people in your community — your active and potential customers — are among the 1 billion+ Facebook users. Interacting with those consumers on Facebook is one of the most worthwhile marketing efforts for an independent restaurant. With a few simple engagement strategies, you can expand your audience and attract new customers without investing endless hours or purchasing ad space.

Facebook Rewards Genuine Activity

There are only two ways to use Facebook as a marketing tool: pay for advertisements, or be an active user. If you don’t want to purchase ad space, then you’ll need to invest a little bit of time each week to engage with your Facebook fans. The reward for this engagement are free exposure to thousands of potential diners. What does it mean to be an active user? At least a couple times a week, make a post to your page, and engage with customers.

What Should You Post?

Your page will be seen by your favorite customers, as well as friends of friends, and perfect strangers just searching for a place to eat. What can you share that appeals to all these viewers? Just stay simple, professional, and timely. Here are some ideas to inspire you:

• For lunch today we’re serving up a fresh-catch special: Seared Halibut with Grilled Asparagus
• Tonight is the big game! Enjoy our classic Big Burger and a draft pint for only $8.
• Just got our new crop of habaneros. Come on in to try our famous mango salsa.
• The Tutti Frutti cocktail is back! Fresh pineapple puts this drink over the top.
• Come enjoy the sunshine with lunch on our outdoor patio.
• Karaoke this Friday, don’t miss it! Starts at 8, all ages welcome.
• In honor of national Craft Beer Week, we’ve got 6 Northwest brews on tap. Try a flight to find your favorite.
• The Hometown Little Leaguers have their first game today. We’ll be rooting for you!

Irresistible Images

The new Facebook feed is designed to be a visual feast: pictures and videos are displayed larger and more prominently than ever. Restaurants have an advantage here, as customers will devour photos of your delicious food and your establishment. Try to include visuals in most of your posts by uploading your own photos, linking to other images, or sharing relevant Youtube videos. Food is a visual experience, and you can foster loyalty simply by sharing your passion for food. People often connect with restaurants where they had a memorable experience — a birthday dinner, a favorite hometown bakery. Serving up pictures of your food keeps you fresh in their minds and close to their hearts, and lets them recommend you to their friends with confidence.

Engage with Customers

Facebook is more than just a billboard for your promotions; it’s a chance for your customers to communicate with you, too. Visitors to your page can reply to any of your posts, share photos on your page, or post their own question or comment. Although it’s a lot less formal than talking to a customer face-to-face, take this communication seriously. If someone asks a question on your page, be sure to reply in a timely fashion, so that everyone can see your response. Most of your fans will use your page to praise you, but some customers will want to vent about a bad experience. If they offer a specific grievance (e.g. “The server Mindy was so rude”) send that user a message directly and try to salvage the situation.

Your brand, your customer service, and your reputation now must extend beyond the walls of your restaurant. Think of Facebook as a tool to help you build these relationships and grow your business.

Will we see you in Chicago at the National Restaurant Assoc. Show?

Saturday, May 18, kicks off the National Restaurant Association’sannual tradeshow, a four-day event that brings together all the biggest names in food service. From celebrity chefs to industry trends, the show connects hundreds of thousands of restaurateurs from around the world. This will be our second year at the show, and we’re so excited to participate and meet our members face to face. If you’ll be attending, stop by our booth (#6170) in the Technology Pavilion for demos of our latest products, get answers to any questions, and meet our team.

We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!

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 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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