Restaurant Menu Design During Covid-19


How should you design the restaurant menu during Covid-19? In other words, you can even increase your restaurant sales with the right menu design.

In the Covid-19 lockdown, restaurants were among the most affected businesses, at least in my location, in Europe. Even now, during as we speak, restaurants aren’t in their best shape.

After the lockdown period, restaurants that were in open air get permission to operate again. That was useful but even so, people were not “running” to eat outside their homes.

So everybody expected that after a long period of being blocked in the house, people will use restaurants just like before. And how wrong they were.

They didn’t. People are afraid of Covid-19 and changed lots of their habits, including the habit to eat at a restaurant. In addition to this, some people went broke.

Although it was extremely difficult, some restaurants adapted to the new economical context and even increased their sales. Interesting, isn’t it? How they did it? Find out below.

Menu engineering

Menu engineering is a field of study fully devoted to the construction of restaurant’s menu. How it can help you? Do a great restaurant menu design and you can improve your sales even during Covid-19.

There are menu engineers that can help you create the best menu for your restaurants.

The goal of menu engineering is to maximize your restaurant profitability by subconsciously encouraging customers to buy what you want them to buy, and discouraging the purchase of items you don’t want them to buy.

Menu strategy takes into consideration the following aspects:

  • Psychology (perception, attention, emotion/effect)
  • Managerial accounting (contribution margin and unit cost analysis)
  • Marketing and strategy (pricing, promotion)
  • Graphic design (layout, typography)

How to engineer a menu so you can maximize your profits?

Menu engineering is divided into four steps:

  1. Cost your menu
  2. Categorize menu items taking into consideration the profit and popularity levels.
  3. Menu design
  4. Lots of tests

Cost your menu

At this step, you need to know exactly how much costs to create each item from your menu.

Invest time and attention, you don’t what to make mistakes.

Studies say that almost 80% of worldwide restaurants don’t cost their menu, and 5% cost their menu incorrect. As a result, they don’t know how to improve the menu design.

  • Categorize menu items taking into consideration the profit and the popularity levels.

You will categorize all your menu items according to profit and popularity levels.

Split your menu into categories and sections.

Common categories are Appetizers, Entrees, Desserts, and Drinks.

Break out the categories in sections.

Create 4 quadrants and place each of your menu items into one of them:

  • Stars—high profitability and high popularity
  • Plow-horses—low profitability and high popularity
  • Puzzles—high profitability and low popularity
  • Dogs—low profitability and low popularity
4 quadrants that help you create the perfect restaurant menu design

Now you have the right picture of your restaurant menu. After this step, you can make decisions.

  • Stars— It is obvious, your menu should highlight the Stars.
  • Plow-horses— Try to create more profitable versions of these menu items. You will increase your restaurant revenue.
  • Puzzles- Lower the prices. Therefore you will produce higher overall profits.

Dogs – Best is to get rid of these menu items.

Menu Design

The menu design will be based on the 4 quadrants that we discussed about.

Here are some common and best practices:

  • Highlight your stars (a box design can do wonders).
  • Don’t list your prices in a column down the right side of your menu.

This is the number-one problem I see with restaurant menus.

Placing your prices in a column causes customers to focus on price, not your food, and could lead them to choose the cheapest item in the column.

Avoid using a dollar sign or the word “dollar” next to the price, as that causes customers to think about money.

  • Use menu item description – This is mandatory for expensive items. Write an interesting description, make your customer curious about this menu item.
  • Use nice font menus – Here you can search for both free and paid restaurant fonts.
  • Adapt your menu based on your menu cover.

Lots of tests

Test your new menu design and check the numbers. Did you increase the sales? What are your customers thinking about your new menu?

Offer them a quick and simple way to write their feedback about your menu design.

In other words, take your time to do all your tests. As a result, you will see what works great and what needs to be improved.


In conclusion, menu engineering is as important as the quality of the food, how people serve you, restaurant location, design, and everything else. You can improve your restaurant menu design even during Covid-19.

Once you master the menu design, you will get much more sales and happier customers.

Pin It on Pinterest