How to find the right menu template for my restaurant or bar

Last updated October 19, 2021 · By Dylan Blake

You’ve done the hard work: you’ve created a list of awesome menu items and you can’t wait to get them in front of your customers. But there’s one big step left: you have to choose or create your menu template.

So you start looking for a tool that can help you create your menus. First step: you run some searches on Google.

The results are overwhelming: there are dozens of sites out there (and probably more) that claim to be “the best,” or “the most customizable,” or “the easiest” way for you to make your menu. They offer 1,000, 6,000, 10,000, or more menu templates.

But you don’t want or need 6,000 menu templates—you need the one that’s right for your bar. And all the claims of “best” and “easiest?” That stuff’s even worse because it’s an advertisement: of course these companies will say their own menus are the best.

So in a world void of fact, how on earth can you actually find the right menu template for your bar or restaurant?

We wrote this article to cut through the noise and help you actually answer that question. Read on to learn how to choose the right menu template for your bar or restaurant.

No noise. No claims. No ads. Just your custom menu.

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How often do your menu items change?

If your menu items change frequently (weekly or more often), it’s best to use a menu maker that enables quick and easy menu updates while maintaining correct formatting and your target number of pages.

BeerMenus has helped many restaurant and bar owners who previously made their menus manually. They simply could no longer deal with the pain and formatting headaches that come with copying and pasting menu updates into a menu document they’ve made manually (e.g. with Microsoft Word, InDesign, Canva, or similar).

In their words, manually updating your menu document is a big pain and an even bigger time suck.

If you need to update your menu frequently, a menu maker with printable design templates that are optimized for fast updating can save you hours each week.

Dedicating those extra hours to higher leverage projects can help take your business to the next level.

This is especially true if you have a rotational beer, wine, and/or spirits program, which brings us to our next section.

Do you sell cocktails, beer, wine, and/or spirits?

If you sell cocktails, beer, wine, and/or spirits, an informative drink menu will help customers quickly choose the right drink.

That’s fantastic on its own, but the benefits go deeper: if there’s no bottleneck to ordering, customers will order the number of drinks they want instead of giving up early when it’s too hard to make a choice or get their order in.

More drinks means higher sales on alcoholic beverages, which are often a bar or restaurant's highest-margin products.

Providing product info for your drinks (e.g. style, brewery and ABV on your beer menu; style and region on your wine list; descriptions on your cocktail menu) is critical to helping customers quickly order their first drink, which means their second drink will come faster. (You can see how making this process more efficient can quickly yield larger checks.)

Far and away the most important product info for all drinks is a description. Informative descriptions have been shown to increase average check size because they help customers order faster. That naturally leads to ordering more.

You can see how this works with a simple thought experiment: If two beers have really enticing descriptions, I’ll order one and then be excited to order the next as soon as I’m nearing the end of my first glass. The whole process gets sped up.

The challenge, of course, is gathering and providing great info for an ever-changing drink menu. If you use Google to track down all your descriptions (which is what many restaurant and bar owners do), this can be extremely time consuming.

That’s why BeerMenus built a database of beer, wine, and spirits that’s integrated into the BeerMenus menu maker.

BeerMenus - Add item to menu
Adding an item to your menu

Simply start typing a beer, wine, or spirit name and then select the right one from the dropdown. When you do, the item's description will immediately display so you can review it and make any edits before adding the item to your menu.

As soon as you add the item to your menu, the product info—including that all-important description— is automatically included on your updated menu.

Ready to try BeerMenus menu maker?

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Do you often move items on and off your menu?

If items on your menu(s) often come on and off (think recurring specials, seasonal food or drinks, etc.), then using a menu maker that saves all historical menu items—including descriptions and prices—for re-use in the future can save a lot of time.

Example

Imagine you have a special pork dish that’s only available when you get a certain cut from one of your suppliers. You write the perfect mouthwatering description for the special, it sells out in a flash, and you remove it from your menu before service the next day. You think “well, that was good while it lasted.” You go back to your normal menu.

But then, as luck would have it, the pork supplier reaches out two weeks later with great news: that same cut is available again. You purchase it immediately. It’s a no brainer.

Everything’s going great—the kitchen is ready with the same prep, your servers are excited because of how popular it was, and so are you, since last time you built in a good margin for yourself and it still sold out in a flash.

But now you have to update your menu to include the special. You aced that mouthwatering description last time, so you want to use the same one this time around. You try to remember how you phrased it, you dig through papers and computer files to try to find that previous menu. If you’re lucky, you’ll eventually find it, but it’s still taken some time.

Imagine you could avoid that frustration and waste of time.

You can, so long as you use a menu maker like BeerMenus that stores all your historical menu item descriptions for easy re-use in the future.

If you have several food menus (e.g. breakfast menu, brunch menu, day menu, dinner menu, takeout menu) and/or separate drink menus (e.g. beer menu, wine menu, cocktail menu, spirits menu), a streamlined solution for making these different menus can be extremely helpful.

The best solution is using a menu maker that enables you to:

  • Manage all your menus in one place
  • Transfer your design and styling to all your menu templates
  • Use the same process to update all your menus (i.e you don’t have to learn different programs or systems for your different menus)

The BeerMenus menu maker is a one-stop shop for all of your restaurant menu design needs: manage all your menus in one place, repeat branding from one menu to another, and use the same process to update all your menus (you don’t have to learn multiple systems).

Menu template examples
Food and drink menus built with BeerMenus.

Do you want to have a custom design?

If you hired a designer or agency to create branding and a logo for your restaurant or bar, you may have also asked them to design your food menu or drink menu. (If you’re just getting started with your bar or restaurant, you might be currently weighing this option.)

Working with a designer or agency can be a great way to get a professional menu design, but it can also be very expensive. On top of that, wth a fully custom menu document, you’ll get none of the database or ease-of-updating benefits discussed earlier.

Ideally, you’d be able to have your cake and eat it too. You can do just that with BeerMenus.

BeerMenus—and it’s team of professional in-house designers— is happy to work with businesses on a custom design or to match existing branding or menus for no additional fee.

In this world, you get the branding and design benefits of a custom design while not losing out on the benefit of a menu maker that helps you make menu updates in a snap.

Get started on your custom menu design now

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Do you want to promote your menus on your website?

If you want to promote your menus on your website, it’s important to have an easy way to keep your website menus up to date in the right way.

What does “in the right way” mean?

Basically, you want your website menus to be HTML. While uploading a PDF or other image file may be easier—"I just have to upload one thing!"—in doing so you’re shortchanging your web presence.

How?

Two reasons. First, it’s difficult for your customers to view image files on their mobile devices. They need to zoom in, scroll around, or even have to scroll from one page to another or click different links to launch different menus. (You’ve surely you’ve done this dance before on your own phone.)

Since it’s 2020 and most customers are now viewing your website on their phones, it’s important to optimize your menu for this scenario, and images just don’t cut it.

Second, it’s hard for search engines like Google to make sense of image files. You’ll get no boost in your search engine optimization from an image file. On the other hand, HTML is exactly what Google is looking for.

BeerMenus website menu
Example BeerMenus website menu

If having optimized website menus is important to you (it should be!), you’ll want to choose a menu maker that supports adding your menus to your website and keeps them up-to-date whenever you update your printed menu.

Such a menu maker—like BeerMenus—serves as a one-stop shop for updating all your menus: simply update in one place and your printed menus and your website menus will be up-to-date.

Do you want to promote your menus on social media?

If you want to promote new beers on Facebook or Twitter, you can use a menu maker like BeerMenus to automatically post to Facebook whenever you add a new beer to your menu.

These posts include an image of the beer label or brewery logo as well as a description and a link back to your BeerMenus place page, meaning one click can have customers viewing all your menu items.

BeerMenus - Facebook page app and example post
BeerMenus Facebook post examples

If you’re looking to promote other items in social posts—like food, wines, cocktails, or spirits—you can copy the descriptions over from your menu and tailor the message to entice the relevant audience (e.g. foodies or wine lovers) on each social platform.

For an Instagram post, it’s best to have a mouth-watering image of the menu item. These free Instagram food post templates from Canva can help you get started. If your menu is particularly exciting (e.g. you have rare or sought-after beer or wine), posting a photo of your menu can be very effective.

If you’d like your current menu to always be available to people who visit your Facebook page, you can use a menu maker that offers a Facebook page tab app with a live updating menu. BeerMenus offers this.

Alternatively, you could add a link for your menu or PDF to your Facebook page.

What about free menu templates?

If you’re just looking for free templates, Canva offers free menu templates, including: cafe menu, diner menu, bakery menu, and many other types of menus. They even offer menu templates designed for special days or themes, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc.

Free menu templates can certainly do the trick for restaurants or bars whose menus don’t change very often—a menu maker’s principal benefit is time savings, and if you don’t update your menus very often, you won’t be saving all that much time.

However, if you update one or more of your menus at least weekly, then using a menu maker can save you a ton of time over the course of a week, a month, and a year.

You can read about why that’s the case above.

The importance of great descriptions

Research has shown that descriptive menu item descriptions can increase sales by 27% and BeerMenus customers have seen average check size increase by $12 after switching to our print menus with descriptions automatically included.

Create a menu with one click beer and wine descriptions

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Restaurant and bar menu templates and design inspiration

Check out these recent custom menu designs for some inspiration!

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