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Menus, Marketing, & Management tips to grow your restaurant business.


How To Create A Memorable Food Cart Menu

You’ve decided to open your mobile food truck business. Congrats! Now you’re wondering, “How do I create a stellar menu that will set me apart from the competition?”

The first thing to nail down is your brand and overall concept. Think about how you want to present yourself to customers, and the type of clientele you are catering to. Do you want a fun, playful vibe? How about a bright, eye-grabbing look? What kind of food do you offer? How will this affect the aesthetic?

Likely you will be set up in an area that has other food trucks -- how will you draw eyes to your cart? The branding you establish is what customers will notice first, so make sure it best represents you and your business.

Marcelo Flores, owner of Poblano Pepper PDX, established his branding by painting his trucks bright green and having a memorable and recognizable poblano pepper logo designed by a local artist and friend, Eduardo Norel.

Flores wanted his menu design to reflect where he’s from, “I’m from Puebla, Mexico and people from there are called Poblanos. And poblano peppers are from that area.”

With your customers’ eyes zeroed in on your truck, they’re ready to check out your menu. Here are 5 steps to maximize your menu’s potential:

Limit What You Offer

You have a smaller kitchen, smaller staff, and therefore will most likely want a condensed menu. And of course, you’ll want your ingredients to be fresh, so you won’t be able to keep an extensive pantry that would be required for a large menu. Keeping your menu limited is not only practical, it makes it easier for readers to digest the information (pun intended).

Flores mentions, “I’ve been working in the food industry for 20 years and what people really like is fresh food and original ingredients.”

Use Space Effectively

This may seem obvious, but with a food truck, you’re working with much less potential marketing space. Be sure you’re maximizing that limited space. You should have a large menu (eg: poster size) located on the side of the truck, preferably positioned so you are still highlighting your logo and truck design. If your logo isn’t located close to where your menu is placed on the truck, add your logo to the menu board itself to further solidify your branding.

Don’t have any more space to work with? Set up a sandwich board in front of your truck! Here you can include anything from eye-grabbing, fun messages to updates and specials.

Make The Text Work for You

Large text is key -- no one will want to squint to read your menu. If it’s too hard to see, customers will walk on by. Consider spacing as well as the amount of words you are using to describe your menu. Being descriptive is key, but too much text will take up prime real estate in your limited area. Try to cut down any descriptions to one line of text. The more spacing you can provide between menu items, the easier it will be for customers to read and therefore not feel overwhelmed.

When pricing, see what your competition is charging for similar food items and list your offerings competitively by charging a dollar more or less. Avoiding dollar signs in your menu text is important, too. This will help direct the focus to the menu items instead of the cost.

Highlight Specials and Best Sellers

Feature specials alongside your best sellers and make sure they’re located in a place where customers’ eyes will go. The top right corner of the menu is a key location for this, but you can use other tactics to draw attention as well like highlighting, bolding, arrows, or stickers.

Add Bright, High-Quality Photos

The goal with photos is to make sure they accurately depict what your meals will look like so customers will want to give them a try. Quality photos will get your customers’ mouths watering before they even order. Using a professional camera is ideal for this, but most phone cameras can produce quality photos now, too.

While there are many factors to a successful food truck business, make sure your menu and menu design reflect all the hard work you put into your delicious creations so you can turn hungry humans into paying patrons.

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