This is a hot topic among restaurant owners and patrons. The question presents itself frequently, "How often should I be changing my menu? What if I take away a menu item that my customers like?" These are great questions, but they are also easier to answer than you may think.
WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS TELLING ME?
The key is to look into your restaurant's sales data to determine which items are being sold more frequently compared to others. However, just because one item is being sold frequently, it does not mean that it is adding value to your restaurant's profitability. Gauging popularity and comparing it to the profitability of the menu item will give you a more complete picture. It is easiest to first target items that are not profitable and do not have popularity among your patrons. These items present an opportunity to remove and replace, hopefully with a more productive item. Of course a few patrons may miss their favorite dish, but you have the opportunity to present a new menu item that will gain more devout followers, as well as add value to your bottom line. It is a risk worth taking.
WHAT SHOULD I ADD?
Let's say that you have found an item you would like to replace on the menu, but what should you do next? There are few things to keep in mind when adding a new menu:
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE?
Every restaurant handles the fluctuation of menu items differently based on supply change availability, preference, or business model decisions. Some of the larger national chains rotate menus seasonally to keep their supply chain consistent for longer stretches of time, while other restaurant groups embrace locally grown and sourced food allowing them to change menus weekly and daily. Also, some types of menus may change more frequently than others. Beer and wine menus can change based on availability of local craft or seasonal beers and wines, while a dinner menu may be the same for the year. Financial performance will usually confirm if you are moving in the right direction regarding your menu changes.
Overall, the frequency of menu changes should be determined by the performance of each restaurant, as well as by the goal of the operator. There is not simple rule for how often you should change your menus, rather it is a continual process of testing and looking at the results to determine what works best for your restaurant and its patrons.