If you’re considering MustHaveMenus for your restaurant or bar, chances are good that something broke down with your manual menu-making process.
Maybe you want to improve your menu design. Maybe you’re hoping to cut down on the amount of time it takes to update your menu. Or maybe you’re looking for a solution that’s cheaper than a graphic designer.
Read on to learn how to determine whether MustHaveMenus is the right solution for solving those problems and improving your menu-making process.
Full disclosure: we’re BeerMenus, another online menu-maker. But even so, we often recommend MustHaveMenus because it’s a better fit for many bars and restaurants than our own service. At the end of the day, whether you use our service or not, our goal is to help your business succeed. Whether we recommend using MustHaveMenus, BeerMenus, or another service, know that the recommendation is based in honesty, not greed.
And honestly, certain bars and restaurants—most notably those with a rotational beverage program—could benefit more from using a solution like BeerMenus than one like MustHaveMenus.
Both MustHaveMenus and BeerMenus provide centralized menu management, professional menu templates with different, unique menu designs, the ability to save custom menu items that rotate on and off your restaurant menu, and auto-updating website menus.
However, there are significant differences between the two services, so while MustHaveMenus may be perfect for one business, BeerMenus may be perfect for another.
Here’s a quick summary of which service is right, given a business’s requirements.
Choose BeerMenus if you want, require, or value:
A manageable number of templates that make it easy to get started
Automatically including beer, wine, and spirit descriptions on your printable menu
An auto-updating TV menu with custom specials or ad slides
A completely custom menu design for your print, TV/digital, or website menu
With BeerMenus, you can immediately create an account and start a full featured 14-day trial without providing a credit card or phone number.
“Full featured” means you can edit, update and print out your paper menu or edit, update, and view your TV/digital menu as soon as you add your menu items to your menu. In other words, you can fully test the product and feel your menu in your hand before having to pay.
With musthavemenus.com, you can try the online portion of the product after creating an account (e.g. play around with design and add menu items online), but you can’t actually print a high quality version of your menu to test it out until you pay.
Throughout your BeerMenus trial, the BeerMenus customer support team is available via chat, email, text, or phone to answer your questions, help get your menus set, or even design your custom menu from scratch—BeerMenus provides full design customization for print, TV, and/or website menus during your trial for no fee.
So you know, if you don’t upgrade by the end of your BeerMenus trial, you’re automatically downgraded to the BeerMenus free plan.
On the free plan, you can still view and edit your menu on your BeerMenus page, but you lose access to Pro features (e.g. printable menus, TV menus, marketing tools).
Menu updating process: ease and speed of updating
To add items to your BeerMenus menu, you use a single “add menu item” form, regardless of item type (e.g. whether it’s an entree or a beer).
When you begin typing to add a menu item to a BeerMenus menu, BeerMenus automatically searches through all the items you’ve ever added to your menu to see if you’ve added it before. If you have, you can simply select that item from the dropdown without having to type anything else.
When you select an item in this way from the BeerMenus database—which includes beer, wine, spirits, and also all the custom items you’ve added in the past—an editable item description immediately loads, so you can make sure the description is exactly what you’re looking for before you send it over to your menu.
Basically, the BeerMenus database lets you have your cake and eat it too: you automatically pull in item descriptions (without Googling), and you’re not limited to the database description because you can always edit it before you add it to your menu.
Like BeerMenus, MustHaveMenus provides one form where you add/edit all your menu items.
Unlike BeerMenus, MustHaveMenus doesn’t provide a way for you to search your existing custom items while in the process of adding a menu item. Your historical menu items are saved to your account, but in order to make use of them there’s a separate flow to find them and get them on your menu.
This may not sound like a huge pain in the butt now, but if you’re updating your menu once a week or more, the wasted time can quickly accumulate.
Even more time consuming is your workflow for adding a beer, wine, or spirit to a MustHaveMenus menu.
As explored above, when you add a beer, wine, or spirit to a BeerMenus menu, the BeerMenus database automatically serves up the menu item’s description, meaning you don’t have to search elsewhere to find the description.
If you’re using MustHaveMenus, you have to open another tab, Google the product you want to add, find and copy the descriptions and information (e.g. where it was produced) for that item, and then copy and paste that info into your MustHaveMenus menu.
So, instead of taking advantage of the BeerMenus database and adding a beer, wine, or spirit to your menu in less than 10 seconds, it’s taking you minutes to add a single beer, wine, or spirit to your menu. That can add up to a significant time suck over the course of a week, a month, and, especially a year.
Users per account and managing co-worker access
BeerMenus is a multi-user system. This means you can invite as many coworkers as you’d like to help you update, maintain, and print your menu. As the owner of the page, you’re also able to control what coworkers can access, and remove access whenever it becomes necessary (e.g. when someone leaves your business).
On the other hand, MustHaveMenus is strictly a single user system. If you want to share access to your menus with a coworker, you need to share your password. There’s no way to grant and remove access as coworkers join and leave your business, so if someone leaves on bad terms, you’ll have to to change your password.
Custom Menu Items
BeerMenus and MustHaveMenus both enable maintaining an unlimited database of custom items specific to your business. Though, as explored above, re-adding those items to your menu is much easier with BeerMenus than with MustHaveMenus.
Beer, wine, and spirit database
Only BeerMenus provides access to beer, wine, and spirits databases that include product description, style, ABV, brewery/winery/distillery info, and more. And, as discussed above, when you select a beer, wine, or spirit to add to your menu, the description and other info are automatically included. No copying and pasting necessary.
Printable PDF menus
Self-serve menu templates
Both MustHaveMenus and BeerMenus offer multiple professional menu templates and the ability to upload your own logo or other graphics. Additionally, both services enable you to customize your design without the help of graphic designers.
Unlike BeerMenus, which offers a smaller number of templates, MustHaveMenus makes thousands of template designs available to businesses.
But even with thousands of templates, it’s often difficult to find the perfect menu. And sometimes it’s difficult to find the perfect menu because there are thousands of choices.
Custom menu design
Though BeerMenus provides fewer basic menu templates, it offers to create completely custom menu designs for every one of its customers. Even better, BeerMenus has a team of professional designers on staff who will work with you to create your customized menu at no cost to you.
You can have precisely the restaurant menu design or bar menu design you need without paying professional graphic designer prices.
Only BeerMenus offers a live updating TV Menu/digital menu board. By using a mini computer that plugs into the TV (~$110), you can update your menu items, specials, and advertisement slides from any device (computer, tablet, phone, etc.) and those changes will immediately reflect on your TV menu.
If you’d like, you can tackle your TV Menu design yourself—you can choose from multiple menu themes, choose what menu sections and menu item information to include on the TV menu, set your TV menu to rotate through multiple screens, and create and update slides for ads or specials.
As with its Print Menu product, the professional BeerMenus design team offers to create a custom TV Menu design for you for no additional fee.
Unlike BeerMenus, MustHaveMenus does not offer digital menu capabilities.
Online marketing tools
Both services offer integrations for your website menus. Once installed, whenever you update your menu on MustHaveMenus or on BeerMenus (depending on which service you use), your website menu will automatically update.
However, only BeerMenus offers to create a custom design for your website menu. And, like with its custom Print and TV Menu designs, it does so for no additional fee.
Access the local BeerMenus.com audience: website, apps, notifications, email marketing, and Google
BeerMenus has a consumer facing website at www.beermenus.com and iPhone and Android apps that reach consumers deciding where to buy beer, wine, and spirits.
Consumers primarily use BeerMenus to find specific beers, wines, and spirits.
They can (and certainly do) find you by searching for these beers, wines, and spirits on BeerMenus, but they also hear about you because whenever you update your menu on BeerMenus, you trigger notifications to locals who follow your business and/or locals who follow a beer, wine, or spirit you just added to your menu.
Because of its consumer-facing website and company profile, BeerMenus also enables you to easily reach people using Google and other search engines to find local places carrying or serving specific beers, wines, or spirits. Learn more about SEO for craft beer businesses.
All told, if you’re a business with a solid beer, wine, and/or spirits program, BeerMenus can serve as your one-stop shop for creating an awesome menu as well as marketing your menus to your local audience.
On the other hand, MustHaveMenus is only a menu making software program. It offers no built-in consumer audience or outward-facing marketing value.
Social media marketing
Only BeerMenus offers an automatic process for posting to Facebook and Twitter when you update your menu.
Every time a business adds a new menu item to their BeerMenus page, they can choose to send a post about it to their Facebook and Twitter pages. They can also use BeerMenus to automatically post other announcements and specials.
BeerMenus also offers a Facebook page tab app that enables you to include a live updating menu on your Facebook page.
(Note: Because of a recent policy change, Facebook unfortunately limits the page tab app tool to Facebook business pages with 2,000 or more fans.)
MustHaveMenus offers a basic "post to social" tool for Facebook and Twitter that enables you to post an image of your menu with a message to Facebook and/or Twitter. This means that you can technically post to both Facebook and Twitter, but you can't post about individual menu updates (like you can on BeerMenus), nor is it easy to do so while you're making menu updates.
Who is BeerMenus?
We're a group of beer loving folks who connect bars, restaurants, beer stores, and breweries with local customers from across the world, through customized Print Menus, TV Menus, and online marketing tools.
If you want to read more about how and why we got started, check out our founding story.