Restaurants, especially newer restaurants, will need to know how to present a new menu that will dictate their business’ future. There are a lot of reasons to introduce a new menu:

  • Past menu items didn’t sell

  • New menu items may be requested

  • Menu was dated

No matter the reason, you have a new menu and need to introduce it to customers. If you have regulars, this change may be ill-received.

But you may also be adding new items to a similar menu, so it truly depends on how to introduce these new items.

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How to Introduce New Menu Items

New menu items need to be tested, and cooks need to learn how to prepare the item. One of the key reasons that restaurants offer specials is to try out new items. The goal is to find items that customers may enjoy and choose.

These items need to be tested before making their way on the menu, or be prepared to make changes to your menu often.

You’ll also want to use a point-of-sale tracking system to monitor the sale of items. The idea is to determine:

  • When an item is purchased

  • How often an item is purchased

  • If the item is in demand

A new menu at a restaurant may also have the following:

  • New items listed in a special “new items” location

  • New items listed with a special icon next to them

The goal is to have these new items stick out, but you also don’t want to change the placement of well-selling items on the menu – you may lose sales as a result.

Restaurants need to bring attention to the new items, and a lot of this will come from the staff. When a waitress goes to the table, he or she should bring it to the customer’s attention that the menu has changed and point to the new items on the list.

If restaurants want to go a step further, they can offer specials on new menu items to drum up sales and get customer feedback on the items.

Advertising should also be done to introduce new items to new and frequent customers. This advertising can be done in:

  • Print

  • Web

  • Placemats

Make your new items pop, and promote them until sales start rolling in.

How to Introduce a New Menu

If you’re revamping your menu, it’s important to keep all of your items in a similar place. For example, if your restaurant has been in business for 20 years and the top appetizer on the list is mozzarella sticks, customers will grow accustomed to the placement of this dish.

Now, if the dish is selling well, it may also be due to placement.

There are “hot spots” on a menu where the reader’s attention may be drawn. This is why some restaurant items sell at a much higher rate when pictures are included. Some upscale restaurants will keep their menu as basic as possible so that guests are more inclined to read the entire menu.

So, when introducing a new menu, you’ll want to:

  • Keep key items in similar locations on the menu

  • Create a best-selling section if you want to bring attention to top dishes

  • Add “new” icons to dishes that may have been added to the list

Of course, if you want to know how to promote a new menu, it’s going to start with the waitress. The waitress will do much like they have in the previous section, telling the customer of the menu change and any additions to the menu.

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How to Promote New Menu Items

Promotion is key because a lot of patrons that have been to your establishment before may overlook new menu items. The key is to offer an easy means of knowing and perhaps trying new items.

You know that you can use placemats, the Internet and print to advertise the new items, but you may also want to:

  • Offer free samples of the new items

  • Offer discounts on new items

  • Offer 1/2 off on certain items

Sometimes, an item may not be well-received, and other times, it may be a hit. You'll want to add in items that are:

  • Frequently requested by patrons

  • Selling more often in your area

Removing items from a menu may also be something you want to consider. Smaller menus tend to do better than menus with 200 dishes, and the reason is that the customer is overwhelmed. There may be a few reasons to remove a dish:

  • Sales of the dish aren’t performing well

  • Prices of the dish have risen and become uneconomical

Use an analytical approach to removing items, tracking sales and seeing if the dish is worth removing on the new iteration of your menu.

A few ideas on how to promote your new menu include:

  • Create Facebook ads for local customers showcasing your new menu items

  • Use Instagram to showcase the entire journey of creating your new menu

  • Send out print ads to customers with coupons for new items

  • Showcase the items on your website

  • Invite influencers to your restaurant to give the items a try (e.g. leaders of local schools or meetup groups)

There is a lot of work that goes into creating a new menu, and if you have an easy means of printing the menu without much of a cost burden, you may also consider having a special “new items” section where the items are listed boldly.

New items may also have a different text color or font.

But if you don’t plan on reprinting the menu in the next 6 months to a year, it may be best to use your waitresses and other forms of advertising to bring attention to new menu items. Oftentimes, if nothing else has changed besides text or removing an item, it’s very cost-effective to reprint the menu with minor changes.

In either case, it’s important to bring attention to the new menu, keep favorite or best-selling items in a similar location on the page, and offer promotions to gain feedback on new items from customers.