5 Factors That Go Into Choosing A New Menu Item

Daniela Kelly April 24, 2019
 5 Factors That Go Into Choosing A New Menu Item

One may wonder how a new item makes it to a restaurant’s menu. For independent restaurants, it may be as simple as the chef looking to see what’s in season and can be found locally. They may take some time to come up with a creative name and description, what the cost will be based on the ingredients and then it goes on the menu.

And, in some cases, the staff can just offer it to customers as the day’s special.

This process can be even longer for chain restaurants with more than one location. The larger the chain, the longer it takes to get a new item on the menu. There are many steps involved here including marketing, operations, legal, supply chain, etc. What is the process in which a new item may or may not make it to a menu?

Does it support the restaurant brand? Does it fit into the expectations of customers? A restaurant never wants to offer an item that doesn’t fit into its image. For example, wouldn’t you think it would be weird for Firehouse Subs to offer Lasagna? Firehouse Subs is about offering sub sandwiches, regular sandwiches and chili. Lasagna is more for Italian restaurants.

Will the new menu item bring in more customers or will some veto the restaurant? When a group of diners chooses a place to eat, they look for what is on the menu. If it’s geared to a particular style, they may veto the restaurant altogether.

What will the price point be for the new menu item? McDonald’s had some difficulties with its Fruit and Walnut Salad. While customers were glad to see the fast food chain offer fruit, they did not want to pay the $5 it was asking (as many saw the food as a side dish, not a meal). Despite a reduction in price and size, it never measured up to customers’ expectations.

Will the new item fit into the restaurant’s constraints? How much cooking and assembling will the new item take? The majority of vendor partners will do the cooking while the staff heats and assembles the products. However, dining restaurants may be all about sourcing ingredients and making the dishes themselves.

How are customers going to act to everything about the new item? It’s not uncommon for restaurants to do customer surveys, asking them various questions such as”

  • How likely are they to order the food item?
  • Would they order the item from a restaurant chain?
  • Is it new and different from other items?
  • Is it something they’d order regularly?
  • Would they eat at the restaurant for the item only?
  • What is a good price for the menu item?

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