MustHaveMenus Blog

Category: ‘Industry News’

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.

Design of the Week: Easter Fun Flyer + 33 Ideas for Easter Promotions

easter fun flyerIt’s just a little over a week until Easter Weekend. And, according to the National Restaurant Association, nearly 33 million consumers are expected to dine out this year. In celebration of this fantastic opportunity to drive sales on a traditionally at-home holiday, we’re offering you this fun Easter flyer Design of the Week and 33 promotion ideas.

  1. We have 136 menu, flyer and image templates for you to promote your Easter brunch or event available here.
  2. Offer an Easter buffet. It’s the most popular choice in the NRA’s survey of 1,000 Americans.
  3. Give kids a chance to hunt Easter eggs. One out of five surveyed said this was an important factor in restaurant choice.
  4. Invite your regulars. Forty-eight percent of diners said this was the number one factor for the Easter meal decision.
  5. Lunch is hot. Brunch not so hot. Forty-six percent said lunch was their top time to dine out. Only 29 percent are brunching; while 21 percent are breakfasting.
  6. Dinner is a winner. Forty-four percent of diners-out want dinner fare for Easter.
  7. Swine is fine for 39 percent of Easter eater-outers.
  8. Pie is fly. Got a mean chess pie or pastry special? You could attract about 37 percent of the Easter crowd.
  9. Green eggs and ham? It’ll work for about 27 percent of Easter fare seekers.
  10. Tell the lamb to scram. It’s only got about seven percent of the votes in the sought-after Easter food.
  11. Holiday menus are special. Sixteen percent of diners want Easter-centric menus or specials.
  12. New kid on the block? Thirteen percent of diners want to try something new.
  13. Kids menus are not the most important part of the Easter game. Only 4 percent want great kids menu.
  14. Hide Easter eggs in your menu designs. (It’s simple to do in the Word template designs on MHM.)
  15. Hold an Easter coloring contest at the local church preschools. Reward the winning school with kids-eat-free coupons and an Easter cake or dessert party
  16. Place a basket plastic eggs at the hostess counter to give your customers Easter surprises such as coupons, free menu items and a grand prize of dinner for two. (Talk about it on Facebook.)
  17. Hold a tackiest Easter basket photo contest on Facebook.
  18. Submit Facebook event invitations to all the local churches and “around town” Facebook listing services. (Great downtime job for a hostess.)
  19. A visit from the Easter bunny never hurt the crowd appeal.
  20. Invite your local churches to dine with you on other church nights during Easter week. Services are often held on Thursday and Friday.
  21. Contact three local schools this week to ask about teacher lunch needs on Monday. Many schools are closed that day for the kids, but not for the teachers.
  22. Hold a drawing for an over-the-top Easter basket giveaway. Partner with a local salon, spa or hotel for the contents.
  23. Mail out a church staff appreciation card. Your staff could gather a list of the church staff from the surrounding 5-mile radius. Send a card for a free meal to that person. They will want to dine with their families and appreciate the gesture at the end of their second longest week of the year.
  24. Set up an egg painting booth on the patio. Kids get a free ceramic egg and distraction while the family dines.
  25. Offer a special on brunch drinks such as bloody Mary’s and mimosas.
  26. Feature your chef and his/her signature Easter brunch in a cooking demonstration. Set the tables up so the customers can ask questions and get cooking tips.
  27. Tout the reservations all this week and next. The last thing you want is mad guests come Easter Sunday.
  28. We saw where one restaurant is offering bottomless mimosas with the $55 prix fixe menu.
  29. Run a week-long Easter special dish such as a sushi roll or ham dish starting on Palm Sunday, April 17 through April 24th.
  30. Breakfast place? Go all out on the eggs – Benedict, deviled, scrambled, fried, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, omelettes and the kind you hide. Call it something fun like Egg-cellent Easter Brunch.
  31. Beer on tap? Have a hops fest.
  32. Golf course club? Rope off an area for for bunny hop races, Easter egg hunts and hold a drawing for free cart rental and a few rounds of golf.
  33. Caterers – You need to be working your previous orders list to remind last year’s customers to get their orders in for that artichoke dip and ham souflee they loved last year.


What are you doing to draw crowds on Easter? Tell us about it at our Facebook community.

Design of the Week: Cafe Gift Certificate

cafe gift certificate

This week the Design of the Week is a Cafe Gift Certificate. Part of the Market Cafe Set, this beautiful design is perfect for a corner bistro or cafe.

With MustHaveMenus Menu Editor software, you can usually create a beautiful marketing piece or menu design in under 1o minutes. This particular design only takes about three minutes to update, save and print.

See more gift certificate designs here.

Sign up for a MustHaveMenus account and save 15%.

Take a tour of the Menu Editor.

Check out our Facebook Community or follow us on Twitter for fresh marketing ideas and menu designs.

Biggest Loser Says Restaurants Need to Shape Up Their Menus

patrick house, biggest loserPatrick House, winner of the 2010 season of The Biggest Loser, lost a whopping 181 pounds to win $250,000, and he gained a new outlook on life. Now, at a trim 219 pounds, he is coaching teens on weight loss at Mindstream Academy in Bluffton, S.C.

I recently caught up with this former pre-diabetic father of two on some hot restaurant issues – the obesity epidemic and the movement to get healthier options on menus and into the tummies of consumers. Read on for House’s view on these hot button issues and his recommendations for how restaurants can help consumers make better choices.

The Obesity Epidemic and Restaurants
Restaurants with more than 20 locations now have to label their menus with caloric, sodium and fat content. While this regulation is still being debated and the effectiveness is in question, House says restaurants can help Americans become healthier.

“Restaurants need to take matters into their own hands,” he says. “They can keep all the options on their menus, but they need to add healthier options – more than just salads – for people that are watching what they eat.”

House recommends that restaurants add grilled chicken, turkey and fish dishes paired with steamed veggies for weight watchers and the health-conscious.

Under 500-Calorie Menus Work
House made his way to the top of the Losers’ bracket by minimizing the calories in his meals by trading in the potatoes for veggies and holding on the butter and oil.

“This is a lifestyle change, not a diet,” he says. “Now, when my family and I go out for dinner, I like restaurants with menu options under 500 calories.”

Menu Labels Appeal to This Loser
Putting the calories, sodium and fat up front gives customers inside information, says House.

“I like the idea of having nutrition info right on the menu. It allows people to see just how unhealthy [even] their favorite dishes are. He says this helps him make more informed decisions.

Give the Kids Healthier, Happier Meals
When we quizzed House on his view of the Happy Meal ban, he doesn’t think “banning” these kids meals is the answer.

“You can’t take everything away from them,” he says. “Families will just go somewhere else.”

He recommends putting more emphasis on raising awareness about health and nutrition, and he credits restaurants with expanding beyond fries to apples and yogurt for sides.

Parents Are the Key to Healthier Kid Choices
Throughout the tenth season of the Biggest Loser series, House said he was doing this for his kids. He says that it’s up to the parents to make the example in what they order at restaurants.

“Being a parent is a 24/7 job,” he says. “Even when you think those little ears and eyes are not listening or watching, they are. By ordering more healthy options at restaurants, and ordering your kids healthier options, you can set examples for them that will lead them towards a healthier lifestyle.”

Restaurants Need to Promote Their Healthy Options
House says that as consumers are becoming more conscious of what they eat, restaurants need to take advantage of this new awareness. They can do this in two ways, he says.

“Designate a certain day each week to serve low-sodium, low-fat and low-calorie meal options and advertise the fact that your restaurant offers healthy options.”

Article first published as Biggest Loser Tells Restaurants to Shape Up Their Menus on Technorati.

Your Marketing Action Plan: Revisit the Kids Menu

kids healthy menuKids menu choices have been big news lately – Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity, banning Happy Meals and healthcare reform that’s shed new light on just what our kids are eating.

That’s why now is the right time to revisit your kids menu. It fits in the seven questions of newsworthiness (timely, local, future impact, prominence, conflict, number of people affected, and human interest). Plus, it’s the right thing to do (if you do it right).

In this post we’ll explore the five ways your new kids menu can become a promotion as well as a better way to build relationships with your customers. Let’s start at what a kids menu revisit should look like.

The 2011 Kids Menu

The 2011 kid likes hotdogs and fries as much as the next person, but they and their parents are more informed about what a restrictive diet based on overly-processed, trans fat-laden foods can do to arteries and waistlines.

Today’s kids have been exposed to a wider range of food selections and cuisines than any generation in the past. We should capitalize on these changing desires and needs. Here’s how you can begin:

  1. Move away from fried, cheesy and overly processed meats (hamburger, chicken nuggets and hotdogs). Try adding grilled and baked dishes (smaller adult options) to your kids menu.
  2. Add more fresh fruits, veggies and whole grains. You can lean up a burger with turkey, a whole grain bun. Add a side of fruit or small salad, and your kids menu goes down in saturated fat and up in sophistication (something older children will appreciate).
  3. Give them food to that’s fun to play with. Options that allow them to build their own taco or pasta dish can drive sales and please the kiddos. The secret is lots of fresh ingredients and lowered fat and salt content. They’ll be too busy playing with their food to notice simple substitutions.
  4. Offer healthier sides. No one says you have to remove all the favorites, but add the apples, carrot sticks with peanut butter and a light soup to the list of sides.
  5. Use your menu to educate. Menus with simple facts and games that promote healthy eating are great conversation starters for kids and parents. Here’s one to get you started.

How to Make Your Kids Menu Makeover a Promotion

Let me be clear. This will not work if you are not genuine in your intentions, but you can build a positive multi-channel buzz if you do this promotion right. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Approach some organizations about doing an awareness campaign on childhood obesity. Sponsor an event, do demonstrations for a school on how to select the right menu items, host a kids and parents cooking class and promote it via the schools other organizations. Check out your local chapter of the Junior League or Auxiliary – these groups are dedicated to improving children’s live in the local community.
  2. Send a series of press releases. Yes, I said series. You can tie this menu change to several different news angles and different publications. Here are a few ideas for press releases:
    • We’re joining Let’s Move with a new kids menu;
    • We care about kids, so we unveiled a healthier menu;
    • We’re partnering with X organization to promote healthy food for kids
    • Healthy kids workshop teaches parents and kids how to eat better
    • We’re in it to win it! The battle for the next generation
  3. Promote it to your customers via the USPS. One of the most effective communication tools is still the snail mailed letter. It’s 44 cents per customer to let them know you are making a pact with them to help their kids eat better. Outline all of your activities, menu launch date and invite them to try you out for a healthy change. Your owners should sign it.
  4. Make it part of social media. Discuss the issue of childhood obesity and share links to news articles, resources and your new menu and press mentions.
  5. Make it the focus of your e-mail newsletter. You can even make it a spotlight section every month or quarter.

Have you recently transformed your kids menu to include lighter or more sophisticated? Tell us about it on Facebook.

What MustHaveMenus Customers Are Promoting for Valentine’s Day

According to the National Restaurant Association, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday to dine out behind Mother’s Day. This year restaurants are expected to entertain more than 70 million Americans. That’s about 33 percent of the population. Babysitters – are you paying attention?

Here’s some interesting data on why consumers choose a particular restaurant:

  • 42 percent choose theirs or their significant other’s favorite dining establishment to celebrate
  • 21 percent of diners choose a restaurant for the romantic atmosphere
  • See the entire breakdown in the graphic to the left.

MHM Customer’s Take on Valentine’s Day

We surveyed our members in the past two weeks of January and here are the results of how they are celebrating the holiday of love:

  • Food specials top the list at nearly 35 percent
  • Prix fixe menu offerings come in second at 16 percent
  • Anti-Valentine’s event – 13 percent
  • Tasting menu – 11 percent
  • Drink specials – 6 percent
  • Other – 5 percent

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? Share your promotion plans with your peers in our Facebook Community discussion here. And, check out our menu designs and flyers templates Valentine’s Day category. You can make a menu or flyer in minutes to celebrate in just minutes with the Menu Editor.

Poll: What Do You Think of Michelle Obama’s Push for Healthier Kids Menus & Smaller Portions?

When Mainstream Menu Items Become Chic – How to Capitalize on Them in Your Restaurant

pork belliesBeen to a trendy restaurant lately and come across pork bellies on the menu? I did, and my food-savvy better half reminded me that this was a pretty way of saying bacon.

Seriously? Bacon is now pork bellies. And, pork is no longer the food of paupers, it’s fine dining. According to a recent Chicago Sun Times article, pork bellies are just the tip of the iceberg on how ordinary foods become chic.

Pork is now chic. And, so are sliders (mini-hamburgers). And French-fried veggies. Hop on over to an “eclectic” restaurant in your city and take a gander at the “new” takes on ordinary foods.

What’s behind these ordinary foods becoming restaurant staples? According to Eleanor Hanson, co-founder of FoodWatch – a trend-consulting firm, there are three roots behind restaurant trends – marketing, immigration and social media.

For instance, Hanson says many of the trends you see today start at as movements. Recent examples include “Meatless Mondays,” “Pork – the Other White Meat,” and now baby carrots – “Eat ‘em like they’re junk.”

Michael Lachowitz, the chef behind Michael in Winnetka, Ill., told the Sun Times, “Trends are driven by fear and the Food Network, which is appalling to me.” He claims that chefs who aren’t confident in their own skills turn to trends.

 And, you’ve seen the increase in comfort food comebacks such as cupcake bars, gourmet burgers and cocktail parties. Hanson says that foods become trendy through “cultural context.” The recession and popularity of shows such as Mad Men point to recent menu trends of “cocktails” and interesting takes on macaroni and cheese.

Three Ways to Capitalize on Food Trends

  1. Use it for promotional purposes. Run a special on a food trend “pork belly tacos” or “sweet potato gratin” to take advantage of the buzz around trendy items. This way you don’t have to reinvent the menu and potentially increase sales. If the special isn’t a success, you’re not losing much by offering a singular special. Or, you can tap into the publicity opportunities around healthy, organic or meatless. Food editors eat this stuff up.
  2. Bake trends into catering or special events. Brides always want the latest cakes, dishes or haute food on their menus. Take a creative approach to these events by offering a trendier menu or showcase your culinary prowess at special charity events by looking at new takes on trendy foods.
  3. Buck the trends. Follow the advice of Lachowitz and stick to your guns. He says he won’t add trendy items for the sake of being trendy. His take on the pork trend? Adding a stuffed pig’s foot dish to his menu just for kicks. He says it won’t sell, but it’s not for the trend; it’s to appease himself and his crew.

How do you make mainstream items chic in your restaurant? Discuss it with our Facebook community.

5 Restaurant Marketing Trends to Focus on this Decade

restaurant industry trendsToday, I’d like to share five trends you should focus on for the next decade. These tips are to help you set goals for this year and beyond. Here you go!

Your Customers Care About Price – Now More Than Ever
The Great Recession taught us something – that the fallout of the economy made being frugal and looking for deals a national consumer trend.

Sites like Groupon, Living Social, FourSquare and even Facebook saw this trend and location-based deal searching is a new way of life for consumers. And, those who do not compete with this trend may be hanging up the closed sign permanently.

According to an article on the Yahoo! Advertising blog, fast food restaurants are doing well because consumers are “trading down.”

The No. 1 Local Search on the Internet? Restaurants
Yahoo! reports that more than 35 million searches for restaurants were the most popular kind of local search in October 2010.

Know what that means? Consumers are looking for you on the web – not necessarily in their mailbox or driving down the road. What’s more is that they are reading reviews, message boards and looking for deals at sites like, and

Health & Transparency in Menu Items
The government is now in the car manufacturing, healthcare and even the restaurant business (well, sort of). As you well know, restaurants must be transparent in some of the nutritional content on their menus if they have more than 20 locations.

And, while this is an effort to make consumers choose more wisely for their health, they are doing it on their own. According to Mintel Research, 62% of consumers plan to eat more healthily in the next year.

Where Your Food Comes From
Consumers also want to know more about the origin of the food they consume. New food safety laws, the few-years-back labeling debacle with basa fish, and organic, meatless and local movements all have consumers wanting to know the origin, quality and allergen content of their food. The foodie culture has moved into the mainstream, and we should take notice of this.

Indulgences Still Sneak By
Less-than-healthy options like Burger King’s new stuffed burger and the McRib are exempt from the labeling laws. And, according to Technomic, consumers are still apt to order the “treats.” Combining these high-profit items with a promotional period creates a sense of urgency for restaurants, and it’s something you should consider in your marketing this year.

What else is top-of-mind with your customers? Have you asked them lately? Tell your peers about it in our growing Facebook community.

Top Five Menu Template Designs of 2010

In 2010, MustHaveMenus’ members showed a preference for cafe menus, family restaurant menus and holiday menus and flyers. Our top downloads prove that simple, clean, easily-customized designs are what our members look for when they join MustHaveMenus. We present to you the top five menus, according to number of downloads:

#5 – East Cafe Menu
#4 – Family Style Dining Menu
#3 – Cafe Restaurant Menu
#2 – Park Cafe Menu

And the #1 menu of 2010…

Market Cafe Menu, with an astounding 2,500 downloads!

Happy New Year, from the MustHaveMenus team! We look forward to providing our members with more beautiful menu and flyer designs in 2011.

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