Menu Design is All About Psychology

The menu at Chicago’s Moto is also a dish

We’ve seen a couple of unique pricing gimmicks in the last few weeks with Fish & Farm’s single-price menu and Urban Tavern’s pay-what-you-feel experiment, but almost all restaurants use more subtle strategies on their menus to try to separate you from as much money as possible. The Baltimore Sun’s Consuming Interest blog lays out a few of those tricks in a post today.

It seems leaving dollar signs off of prices can bump up spending a little bit by disassociating the number from the price. A menu [PDF] we received today from McCormick & Kuleto’s does just that. Restaurateurs also know that people skip around while reading menus. The National Restaurant Association recommends putting the items chefs most want to sell in the center of the inside right page of the menu. At Max’s On The Square, that’s where the slightly more expensive (and perishable) “carvery” [PDF] items go. The association also recommends including pictures of dishes, such as those on the menu of Borobudur.

It’s not surprising that a lot of strategy goes into writing and laying out menus, but we were reminded just how crucial that is by Dave Pasegic, of the Restaurant Resource Group, whom the Sun quotes: “[The menu] is the only piece of printed advertising that you are virtually 100 percent sure will be read by the guest. Once placed in the guest’s hand, it can directly influence not only what they will order, but ultimately how much they will spend.” [Consuming interests via The Big Money]

[Photo: Via swanksalot/flickr]


Menu Design is All About Psychology