Do You Really Need So Many Menu Items?

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What’s the right number of items to offer? Of course, the answer depends on your particular concept, customer expectations and possibly other factors, but we like to remind operators to be careful not to overextend the size and scope of their menu if there’s no need to.

As the menu grows so does the complexity of your kitchen and the needed skills of your staff.

Bigger menus require more products to be purchased and kept in inventory so food cost and quality becomes more of a challenge.

There are lots of practical reasons to maintain an adequate but not excessive number of items on your menu.

The 80/20 Rule Applies to Menus Too!

Menu expert Banger Smith who has evaluated hundreds of menus, says that regardless of the number of items in a specific menu category like appetizers or entrees, the top 3 to 4 sellers consistently account for 60% or more of each category’s sales.

So, why have 10 to 12 appetizers when 6 or 7 would satisfy the vast majority of your customers and will likely generate about the same amount of sales?

Look at your sales mix in each section of your menu. The number and extent of unpopular items on your menu will become very apparent.

Consider simplifying your kitchen by dropping some of your slow sellers, especially if they contain ingredients that aren’t used in other recipes. That will reduce the number of products you purchase and have to keep on your shelves.

Chances are, few guests will notice and you may greatly simplify the management of your kitchen, reduce your food cost and enhance the quality of your remaining items.

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