Increasing Profits through Menu Engineering in Restaurants

In the dynamic and competitive world of the restaurant industry, every choice you make can have a ripple effect on your bottom line, including your menu engineering.

Beyond just a list of dishes, a carefully engineered menu can dramatically increase profits, enhance customer satisfaction, and create a unique dining experience.

So, if you’re a restaurateur looking to boost your profitability, stay tuned as we serve up some delectable insights about restaurant menu engineering. Let’s get started!

What is Menu Engineering?

Launch a New Menu
Launch a New Menu

Menu engineering is a strategic approach to evaluating and optimizing a restaurant’s menu. It involves using data-driven techniques to identify the most popular and profitable items and make strategic decisions about their pricing, placement, and promotion on the menu.

The goal of menu engineering is to maximize profitability by promoting high-profit items and encouraging customers to buy what the restaurant wants to sell.

This process also leverages psychological insights to influence customer choices, helping increase overall business profits.

What is a Menu Engineering Example?

To better understand the concept of menu engineering, let’s take a look at some examples of menu engineering below:

Item Descriptions

How to Write Menu Descriptions
How to Write Menu Descriptions

Item descriptions in menu engineering involve using enticing and strategic language to describe dishes on a menu.

For instance, instead of simply listing “Chicken Salad”, a menu might feature “Farm-Fresh Chicken Salad with Crisp Organic Greens and a Tangy Citrus Vinaigrette”. This menu description sounds more appealing and gives the impression of higher quality and value, justifying a higher price.

This can influence customer choices, enhance perceived value, and increase restaurant profitability.

Strategic Menu Item Placement

Use White Space Well
Use White Space Well

Dishes positioning on the menu also helps draw attention to high-profit items. Research suggests that customers often look at the top-right corner of a menu first, so placing profitable dishes there can boost their sales. Similarly, “eye magnet” spots, like the first and last items in a list, are more likely to be ordered. This strategic placement can influence customer choices and increase restaurant profitability.

Menu Pricing

Bundling and Fixed Price Offerings
Bundling and Fixed Price Offerings

Strategically setting the prices for the dishes to maximize profit is also a menu engineering example. Using tactics like ‘price anchoring‘ (placing high-priced items near standard ones to make them seem more affordable), ‘odd pricing’ (setting prices slightly below a round number, e.g., $9.99 instead of $10), or bundling (offering combinations of items at a lower total cost) are recommended.

The key is to balance customer-perceived value and restaurant costs to optimize profits.

High-profit Items Highlights

Featured Menu Item Stories
Featured Menu Item Stories

Another menu engineering example is emphasizing high-profit dishes on a menu using design elements. This could include using call-out boxes, bold text, images, or other visual cues to draw customers’ attention to these items. The aim is to guide customers towards selecting these profitable items, maximizing the restaurant’s earnings.

This strategy is based on data analysis of sales and food costs, helping determine which dishes to feature prominently on the menu.

How to Use Menu Engineering to Boost Your Restaurant Profits

Here are some key strategies on how to use menu engineering to boost your restaurant profits:

Determine the Exact Food Cost

A chef pouring a meat roll menu with a sauce
A chef pouring a meat roll menu with a sauce

Calculate the cost of each ingredient, determine portion costs, and add these to find the total cost to produce the dish. Next, set the selling price to ensure a healthy profit margin. As menu prices can fluctuate, reviewing and adjusting your costs regularly is important. This process helps optimize pricing and identify high-cost dishes, ultimately increasing profit margins.

Determine Popularity

A woman eating vegan menu at a restaurant
A woman eating vegan menu at a restaurant

Analyze the items that sell the most; these are your popular items. Once you know these, you can use several strategies to boost profits.

You can place these popular items in prime spots on your menu to attract attention. You can also experiment with pricing—if an item is extremely popular, a slight price increase may not affect sales but will increase your profit margin.

Compare Profitability with Popularity

A Man Calculating the Bar's Profit Margin
A Man Calculating the Bar’s Profit Margin

While some dishes may be popular, they might not be the most profitable due to high ingredient costs or preparation time. Similarly, high-profit items may not be as popular.

Creating a matrix that plots popularity against profitability can help identify these items. Create a matrix to categorize menu items into four menu engineering categories: high-profit/popularity, high-profit/low-popularity, low-profit/high-popularity, and low-profit/low-popularity.

Keep star items (high profit/popularity) prominent. Then, market or reposition high-profit/low-popularity items. Meanwhile, consider cost reduction or a slight menu price increase for low-profit/high-popularity items. Lastly, remove low-profit/low-popularity items.

Redesign Your Menu

Divide the Menu into Logical Sections
Divide the Menu into Logical Sections

Redesigning your restaurant menu design can boost profits. The aim is to make profitable items attractive and easy to find, thus increasing sales.

You can do this by placing high-profit dishes in ‘hot spots’ that customers usually look at first and highlighting them with design elements. Use enticing descriptions to make dishes appealing and de-emphasize or remove low-profit items.

Test and Assess

A Woman Reading The Menu Descriptions
A Woman Reading The Menu Descriptions

After enhancing your menu design, it’s important to test it in a real-world setting. This could involve offering new dishes as specials or limited-time offers to gauge customer reactions. During the offer, collect sales data to understand which items are popular and profitable.

Review and analyze these data regularly to identify trends and adjust your menu accordingly to ensure maximum profitability.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does menu engineering help restaurants?

Menu engineering helps restaurants by guiding customers to profitable dishes, improving customer satisfaction, optimizing pricing strategies, and ultimately, increasing overall profitability.

What are the objectives of menu engineering?

The objectives of menu engineering are to increase profitability per customer, improve customer satisfaction, and optimize the use of resources by strategically designing and pricing the menu based on the menu item’s popularity and profitability.

Why is menu analysis important?

Menu analysis is important because it helps restaurants identify their best-selling and most profitable items, understand customer preferences, make informed decisions about pricing and dish placement, and ultimately increase overall profitability.


A careful and skillful menu engineering process can significantly boost a restaurant’s profitability. By strategically analyzing and arranging your restaurant menus, you can highlight high-profit dishes, encourage customers to try new menu items and provide a more satisfying dining experience.

The journey of menu engineering is an ongoing process, one that requires consistent attention, testing, and innovation. If you want further restaurant marketing assistance, contact us at SEO for Restaurants now!

Andrea Abbondanza

Andrea Abbondanza, born in Milan (Italy) and now a proud Australian citizen, is a passionate food lover and the dynamic CEO of With his rich culinary background and deep understanding of online marketing strategies, Andrea helps restaurants and cafes around the world elevate their online presence. His journey from Italy to Australia has infused his work with a unique blend of European flair and Aussie charm, making him a go-to resource for cafes and restaurants looking to elevate their digital presence and grow their businesses.

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Seo for Restaurants is a boutique agency specialised in Google Business Management, SEO and Local SEO for restaurants and Cafes.

What can we do for you?

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  • Increase the number of bookings and most importantly, increase revenue for your restaurant

Andrea Abbondanza is a passionate food lover and the CEO of Seo for Restaurants. With his rich culinary background and deep understanding of online marketing strategies, Andrea helps restaurants and cafes worldwide elevate their online presence and increase

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