The Biggest Menu Mistake of All Time

I call it the “Price List Line Up”. You’ve seen it hundreds of times. The menu item listed in bold followed by a series of dots leading to the price—all right hand justified and easy to read.

Oven Roasted Prime Rib………………………………$19.95
USDA Choice Prime Rib slow roasted served
with choice of blah blah blah.

Pork Tenderloin………...…...…...…………………... .$14.95
Moist pork tenderloin served
with more choices of blah blah blah.

The problem with prices being lined up and right hand justified is this—consumers, some by accident and some by design, tend to shop by price first and product second. The line up makes it easy and almost irresistible to make menu selections based on price, or perceived value, first and product description second. Now this doesn’t mean your customers will always buy the least expensive product in a menu category, it just means they will be looking at price points first and product selection second.

The menu’s job is to market your product—to maximize sales of your most profitable items. In other words the menu is the commercial for selling your stuff! Unfortunately many operators view the menu as a decorative price list and not the powerful marketing piece it can be. Your menu should be seen as a marketing vehicle to maximize sales and not just a line item on your P&L wedged between linen and postage.

So where should the price go? Well operating under the premise the menu is a marketing tool to sell your product the price should go at the end of the menu item’s description. Studies have shown consumers perceive prices to be high when they price is presented in bold font and preceded by a dollar sign. The sequence is this; Menu item in bold font, underneath mouth watering description with a few adjectives and finally the price in the same font as the description. No dots. No bold font. No right hand justified. No dollar sign. The technique is called embedded pricing. Please note this method is not designed to trick or deceive your guest, but merely to place the emphasis on the food first and the price second.

Oven Roasted Prime Rib
USDA Choice Prime Rib slow roasted. Insert more mouth
watering words here 19.95

Pork Tenderloin
Moist pork tenderloin served with your choice of really yummy
stuff 14.95

I guarantee when applied correctly this technique can increase your guest check average without having to raise your prices.

Views: 11

Tags: design, engineering, layout, marketing, menu, profit, restaurant


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Sara Hohn on September 15, 2008 at 9:25am
Great post!

On a somewhat related note, there was an interesting article this summer in Time magazine about a study of diners' perceptions of restaurant menu typefaces, font sizes and descriptions.

A couple of quotes:

"To conduct one of her experiments, Song compared the responses of subjects exposed to menu descriptions typed in a simple Arial font with responses from those exposed to identical dish descriptions in a harder-to-read Mistral font. Subjects in the latter group were more likely to conclude that the dish was hard to prepare and required great skill."

"Allen recommends using sans-serif fonts and few capital letters. He instructs managers to draw diners' eyes to the most profitable items on a three-panel menu by positioning those golden dishes in three key places: the center of the middle page and the top-right and top-left corners, which he calls the sweet spots. In addition to avoiding bad translations, Allen says chefs should use simple language when possible."

I'll Have That Typeface On the Menu
Comment by Trip Kadey on September 12, 2008 at 8:46am
This is good sound advice. It is also taught by the Menu Engineering Master - Gregg Rap




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


GrubHub: Hotel guests rely more on local restaurants

Online orders from hotel guests jumped 125% over the past three years, as travelers cut spending on room service and opted fo -More

GHIRARDELLI® — Premium, Indulgent, Versatile
81% of consumers prefer to order products Made With Ghirardelli ingredients and 72% will pay more for them. For samples, recipes or to consult with one of our chocolate experts visit

Tweet this: What did your #FirstJob teach you?

Team work, multitasking and customer service are among the lessons restaurant employees learn early on.  -More

Many contenders are seeking to become a breakfast champion

Yum Brands, Burger King and others see big potential for growth and profit in breakfast as consumers move away from cereal, b -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $50 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

National Restaurant Association Applauds Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

Today the National Restaurant Association (NRA) praised federal leaders’ commitment to workforce training programs through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. NRA’s Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs, Scott DeFife, issued the following statement of support:

Restaurant Trends - Growing And Emerging Concepts - Change and Activity July 22, 2014

Update from on growing and emerging restaurant concepts

Tropical Smoothie Café Commits $20 Million for Franchisee Financing

Tropical Smoothie Café, with the backing of private equity firm BIP Capital, has launched a financing program to help existing franchisees open additional restaurants nationwide by providing up to $20 million in loans.

Domino's Pizza Announces Second Quarter 2014 Financial Results

Domino's Pizza, Inc. (NYSE: DPZ) announced results for the second quarter of 2014, comprised of strong growth in both same store sales and global store counts, which resulted in 17.5% EPS growth, or 67 cents per share.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Ze Frank: Are you human? - Ze Frank (2014)

Have you ever wondered: Am I a human being? Ze Frank suggests a series of simple questions that will determine this. Please relax and follow the prompts. Let's begin …

TED: Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime - Heather Barnett (2014)

Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.

TED: Shih Chieh Huang: Sculptures that’d be at home in the deep sea - Shih Chieh Huang (2014)

When he was young, artist Shih Chieh Huang loved taking toys apart and perusing the aisles of night markets in Taiwan for unexpected objects. Today, this TED Fellow creates madcap sculptures that seem to have a life of their own—with eyes that blink, tentacles that unfurl and parts that light up like bioluminescent sea creatures.

TED: Nikolai Begg: A tool to fix one of the most dangerous moments in surgery - Nikolai Begg (2013)

Surgeons are required every day to puncture human skin before procedures — with the risk of damaging what's on the other side. In a fascinating talk, find out how mechanical engineer Nikolai Begg is using physics to update an important medical device, called the trocar, and improve one of the most dangerous moments in many common surgeries.

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service