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Readers sound off on updating restaurant menus

Readers sound off on updating restaurant menus

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In the March issue, editor Michael Sanson asked why many restaurant operators aren’t updating their menus. It’s frustrating, he said, when customers make a selection and are told the item is not available. Even more frustrating is when beverage menus aren’t available and customers have to rely on the memory of servers. Paper menus can be updated and printed in a matter of minutes, he pointed out. The following are excerpts of some responses.  

Welcome to America, Mike! These people are lazy and are trying to pinch a penny. Printing paper is costly but you have to spend money if you want to make money. It’s no surprise that staff members don’t know alcohol percentages or can’t recommend a beer that isn’t 86’d. As a server and/or restaurateur, your menu is your life source. It’s how you communicate effectively to guests. If you can’t make simple updates, your time is going to be limited in this fast-paced industry. People will go where they know they can get consistency. That’s what makes a restaurant go round. Invest in a printer; get some beautiful card stock and print, bitch!

Patrick Greene
Assistant Restaurant Manager
Duke Inn
Durham, NC

Your remarks are well-stated and spot on. With 45-plus years of hands-on experience in the foodservice industry I feel disappointed if I do not learn something new each week. As guest chef instructor, I’ve been presenting a class on menu engineering, at the UCLA Extension Program since 2004. With my students, mostly up-and-coming food service operators, I stress the importance of ensuring that an establishment’s menus, both bar and food, are kept up-to-date. Additionally, it’s imperative that a staff is constantly trained on any changes. I certainly agree paper, good-quality paper, is the best option when it comes to printing a menu. With a basic template in place, a foodservice operator can easily make adjustments depending on seasonality, specials or when an item sells out.

An early exposure to designing menus came about when I was a young up-and-coming employee at my father’s restaurant in New York City. This took place in the mid to late ’60’s, long before menu engineering was taught. My father’s experience as the former v.p. of public relations for Sheraton Hotels certainly had an impact on me. We had a printing press in the basement of the restaurant and I was responsible for “romancing the verbiage” and printing our dinner and bar menus. That background apparently stuck with me throughout my career. I am delighted and take pleasure now in sharing pertinent information with future and current foodservice operators on the importance of properly designing and engineering menus for profitability.

C. Tracy Davis
Hospitality Industry Consultant, Advisor and Chef
Westwood, CA

I could not agree more. I do feel that printing new menus with current beer offerings is an easy way to promote brews. However, what happens to all that used paper after the menu changes? Does the server use it as scrap paper to write orders on? Or, is the paper thrown out? I worry about the environmental impact of paper menus. I believe that servers should know the beers they offer in their head. Just as being in school, servers should learn. I enjoy when a server can tell me in depth about each beer selection. But I also think that if you are offering 20 beers, then a printed menu is essential. Also, the rotating electronic beverage menu you encountered is a terrible idea.

Meaghan Cassily
Former Fine Dining Captain
North Conway, NH

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