Menu engineering is the process of designing and structuring a restaurant menu in a way that maximizes profitability and customer satisfaction. It involves analyzing menu items, their prices, and their popularity, and making strategic adjustments to increase revenue and improve the dining experience for customers. Here’s a brief history of menu engineering:
The concept of menu engineering dates back to the 1930s, when restaurants began to use menus as a way to showcase their offerings and prices. During this time, menu design was largely focused on aesthetics, with little attention paid to profitability or customer preferences.
In the 1970s, the concept of menu engineering began to emerge as a strategic tool for restaurants. A group of researchers, including Michael Kasavana and Donald Smith, developed a system for analyzing menus and identifying profitable menu items. They introduced the concept of “menu item popularity” and “menu item contribution margin” to help restaurants make data-driven decisions about menu design.
During the 1980s and 1990s, menu engineering became more widespread, as restaurants began to recognize the importance of analyzing menu data to increase profitability. New technologies, such as computerized point-of-sale systems, made it easier to collect and analyze data on menu items and customer preferences. Many restaurants also began to experiment with menu psychology, using design elements such as font, color, and placement to influence customer behavior.
In the 2000s and beyond, menu engineering has become an even more important tool for restaurants, as competition has increased and customer expectations have grown. Many restaurants now use sophisticated data analysis tools to identify trends in customer behavior and optimize their menus for maximum profitability. They also incorporate customer feedback into menu design, using surveys and other tools to gather information about customer preferences and adjust their menus accordingly.
In recent years, the rise of digital platforms and online ordering has also had a significant impact on menu engineering. Restaurants must now design menus that are optimized for mobile devices and online ordering platforms, and they must also consider the impact of delivery and takeout on menu profitability and customer satisfaction.
Overall, menu engineering has come a long way since its early days as a simple menu design tool. Today, it is a complex and sophisticated process that requires careful analysis of data, customer behavior, and market trends to create menus that are both profitable and appealing to customers.