Restaurant Menus Are On A Diet And It’s Not About Low-cal

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menu and scale

Restaurant Menus Are On A Diet And It’s Not About Low-cal

I still remember my first experience at TGIF (in the early 80’s) restaurant; the weight of menu and the enormous selection grabbed my attention. Once I stepped into TGIF it was hard not to take notice of all the cool décor and memorabilia. There was a neat UK (working) telephone booth in the center separating the bar from the dining room.



All I could think, was this is one wild eatery!

But it wasn’t till the wait person put the menu in my hands that I realized I stepped into the future of casual dining…Lost In Restaurant Space, beam me aboard and seat me at the dinner table of the future. I’m hungry but if this menu is the foodie answer to War and Peace I may not make it by the time the food arrives.

The menu had to weigh about 5 lb. or at least it felt like it did. Once upon a time menu appetizer space consisted of 4-8 selections, when TGIF’s menu came along try 3 or 4 pages of apps! My arms were getting tired and I hadn’t even found the entrees…

Those days are long gone and the one page and two fold menus are making a comeback!

For many years the size of the restaurant menu grew. Diners demanded choices! Menus had to span continents and cuisines. Restaurant-goers were often met with an overwhelming list of choices.

Restaurants figured if they offered more options, diners would stay loyal.  Once again “trendy” wins out!

5 lb. menus were in for a while, many restaurants joined the food bandwagon and followed their competition and the consumers demand for more choices.

5lb. menu


Now, the opposite is the case. Long-winded menus are out and shorter restaurant menus are in.

So why the change of menu heart?

Diners are now looking for easier-to-read formats. Even McDonald’s menu has gotten out of control. So much for quick menu searching and fast food double drive thru efficiency.

Today’s average diner is busy and doesn’t want too many options when opting to eat out. Today’s trend- less is more.

man looking at a overwhelming menu


how our eys read a food menu

Finally restaurants are learning they can no longer be everything to everyone. My concern has always been how can you possibly put out fresh and consistent food with a menu that offers way too many options?!


In the past, restaurants tried to differentiate themselves with an abundance of selections. Now, restaurants recognize that offering too many choices makes it hard for diners to make a choice.

fridays first menus were heavy

This result is diner confusion. It also increases table turnover time as diners spend extra time looking through large menus. TIME IS MONEY…


Diners will remember a restaurant’s specialized cuisine while the five-page or 5 lb. menu is forgotten. Restaurants are now looking to distinguish themselves based on quality, not the quantity of their menus selections.


Small local restaurants to fast food and casual dining chains are changing their ways. Consider the success of limited-menu fast-casual chains that focus on a particular cuisine, such as Five Guys.

As restaurants are shrinking their menus, there is also a trend towards customized options. Along with the shorter menu come more options. Fast Casual restaurants for instance have a few main signature selections but customers can choose from nearly 15 or more optional ingredients. They have a short menu, but they offer plenty of customization options.


There’s without a doubt a new trend towards simple, hassle-free dining. Minimal menus are entering the market in 2015! Restaurants are going to continue to trim the excess from their menus so they can focus on a few easy-to-order, well-executed dishes.

Restaurant Menus Are On A Diet And It’s Not About Low-cal

Diners want focused menus. The larger the menu, the more people will wonder if all the food is fresh and good.

After the success of fast casual places like Five Guys and Chipotle, giant chains such as McDonald’s and Red Lobster, and Olive Garden are putting their menus on a diet. They need to get rid of items that cost a lot to make and create service and staff issues.


With the less is more menu trend, restaurants can focus on making delicious food and provide faster services. Less selection also leads to lower costs, lower prices and higher profits.

All the way around this change of menu size makes it less difficult for everyone, the staff, diners, inventory ordering, and the focus on quality increases, it’s a winning situation.

When restaurants trim their menus, it is an easy way to cut costs. When you offer fewer items, restaurants have a handle on food quality, avoiding waste (they don’t have to maintain a deep inventory) thus boosting profit margins by spending less and perhaps charging more.


Outside of the food aspect, restaurants can also save money on menu printing. Smaller menus require less print space. Restaurants can focus on the mechanics of laying out their menu. Shorter menus are often simple with easy-to-read fonts. This simplicity appeals to people as they go about their busy day. They know at-a-glance what a restaurant offers and what they can expect.


Menus are marketing tools. They are often the first printed piece of marketing material customers see. The shorter menu is more eye appealing!

There a lot of start-up restaurants prompting larger food chains to follow suit. Included in that list are growing number of food trucks, pop-restaurants and single-item restaurants (Cupcake Stores), and the trend towards simplicity and focus in the restaurant menu is sure to continue.

Restaurant Menus Are On A Diet And It’s Not About Low-cal


five guys logo

Bottom line making your customer happy and satisfied is your first priority! They’re hungry for food not a 5 lb menu work out.

They also can do with out the headache from squinting while looking at an overcrowded menu board.

hard to read menu baord

FEED your customer in a reasonable amount of time, with the best and freshest ingredients and a menu they can read in a reasonable amount of time and they’re sure to return…





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