It’s Time to Update Your Menu. Here’s Why.

December 11, 2023

How often to update your menu depends largely on cuisine and food availability. But a good rule of thumb is to update your menu at least twice a year to keep things fresh and exciting for your loyal customers. Some cafes may choose to update their menu seasonally to take advantage of seasonal produce and ingredients. It’s really up to you, but here are some good indicators that it’s time for a change and how to do it.

 

When to Change Your Menu

Here are a few key indicators that it's time to update your menu:

1. An item has a low profit margin

Use a food cost calculator tool to gauge the effectiveness of dishes by sales, cost, and profitability. If the numbers are low, it's time to replace it. Download a free food cost calculator excel plugin to automatically calculate profit margins and costs every time an item is changed.

2. There's a more cost-effective alternative

Find ways to cut down on the cost of ingredients, like using in-season produce. If there's an equally delicious alternative menu item because of seasonal ingredients, you might want to swap out a low performer for a dish that costs you less to make.

3. There's a trending dish in your niche

Whether it's sushi burritos, poke bowls, or ramen, tap into the power of trends by testing them on your summer menu or as a special.

4. It’s been a while

Eventually, even the most faithful recurring customers will want to try something new.


Waiter showing woman the menu board.

Different Types of Change

1. Full Remodelling

Revamping your entire menu from scratch. This works well for small, boutique restaurants with specialized menus that go out of season frequently, like farm-to-table restaurants.

2. New Items

Adding new items is a great way to add diversity without getting rid of what's already working.

3. Replacements

Swapping out old, tired menu items for new trendy dishes can keep your menu exciting and fresh. Just make sure you monitor the metrics closely to see if there's an increase in sales.

4. Redesign

Sometimes a little word-smithing goes a long way. If you know your dishes are trendy but not performing as well as you'd like, try changing the dish's name or description and monitor the metrics closely to see if there's an increase in sales.


Make the Change Easier

Consider running a special menu to adjust for seasonality or trends without disrupting your core menu offerings. Special menus are also a great low-risk way to test a new dish and gauge its success before it becomes permanent.

Most customers will look at your menu online before walking through your door, so make sure to have your new specials listed on your website and on your menu. Promote your special menu on social media to create a sense of urgency and exclusivity around the limited-time offer.

 

Dig Deeper: Find out why smaller menus make big profits here