30+ Fresh Menu Ideas for Restaurants

The best restaurant menus generate revenue AND customer interest. The latter part of this recipe means that restaurant owners and managers need to be able to adapt their menus to their customers’ wants. The first part of the equation means that new menu items need to be produced without incurring a lot of expense in time and equipment.

Before adding any menu item (or when developing a new menu), restaurant owners and managers should ask themselves key questions:

  • Can the new menu item be produced on an existing piece of equipment?
  • If new equipment is needed, is it versatile enough to be used for many different menu items?
  • What are the operational costs of the equipment needed?
  • What ingredients need to be purchased for the new menu item?
  • Based on these factors, what is the cost of production for the new menu item?
  • What would be the optimal menu item cost? Is that cost in line with current menu prices?

Often, new restaurant items can be added to the menu without incurring the cost of additional equipment. When new equipment is required, contact a local professional to determine the cost, operational expenses, and maintenance needed for optimal performance. In some cases, additional steps are needed to keep the equipment running well, such as wiping down the seal on a pressure fryer. This may require some additional staff training and closing procedures.

There are some general “do’s” and “don’ts” to choosing menu ideas that actually generate sales. Do know the audience that the restaurant is targeting. Try to avoid choosing trending menu items that are fads; these menu items tend to come and go. Do add menu items that can fit the restaurant’s target audience, such as children’s favorites for a family restaurant. Don’t keep items that aren’t a popular restaurant menu item; instead replace those items periodically with popular restaurant menu items, such as:

  • Fish (a must for any Wisconsin business!)
  • Burgers (add new toppings for unique burger favorites)
  • Fried Chicken
  • Pizza
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Tacos
  • Hot Dogs
  • Salads
  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Breakfast Sandwiches
  • Burritos
  • Wings
  • Soups
  • Paninis
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Racks of ribs (ask us about pressure frying this popular menu favorite)
  • French fries (with a twist: loaded with cheese, bacon, chili, etc.)
  • Cheese Curds (a Wisconsin favorite)
  • Mozarella Sticks (another Wisconsin favorite)
  • Corn Dogs
  • Fried Pickles
  • Onion Rings
  • Chicken Tenders
  • Cheese-filled Breadsticks
  • Smoothies
  • Coffees
  • Slushes
  • Ice Cream
  • Ice Cream Sundaes (add brownie sundaes for a delicious twist)
  • Deep fried cheesecakes
  • Fruit Pies
  • Ice Cream Shakes

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