Menu Engineering

Joe will cook a storm for you

There are much talk about menu engineering those days. What is Menu Engineering?

The answer has nothing of rocket scientist. M.E. as I will mention the subject for the rest of this jabbering.

Example Joe’s Cafe, an American experience. Joe and Martha want to open a neighborhood restaurant. Joe has ten year of experience, for the last four of those ten years he was the executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Martha a hair dresser with twelve years of experience is a great communicator her best quality, she is a great listener.

Both seat after dinner each with a yellow pad jot down how they see the menu of their dream restaurant.

“Meatloaf, chicken pie and Chocolate torte are a must,” claims Martha

“We need to have a hamburger, our main theme is American experience.” Joe scratch his pad with a huge start.

“Well, what about fish? We need a fish of the day. don’t we?”

Joe frowns, “The cost of fish is going out of hand, lemme think, for a bit.”

“We need a fish, not every body eat meat.”

“What about a chicken pot pie, a cheese cake, maybe a banana split, and some chocolate chips cookies.”

The conversation goes on for the whole evening, without a conclusion to the back and forth exchange of half hazarded menu of American food.

There might be a better way to decide what your restaurant will deliver to your guests.

In consideration the theme of the restaurant. In this case an American experience, which leads to American food, or comfort food.

Who is going to cook? In this case Joe, he is a chef with 10 years of experience and also he is part owner of Joe’s Cafe

What kind of equipment do they need to in the kitchen?

Will the kitchen lay out enter in the complete design?

Absolutely and the seating capacity will also enter in the design of their menu.

How many cooks will they need on the line to deliver in a steady flow, the orders from the dining room. They do not need bug downs the flow in the kitchen due to not enough space on the line.


Well in resume, we have considered:

  1. The restaurant theme
  2. The kitchen lay out
  3. The one responsible to produce the food
  4. The number of cooks, on the line and for the prep
  5. The refrigeration capacity and storage of dry food and vegetables
  6. The capacity of the restaurant

With all those aspects now we can write down a sketch of what the menu will be. There will be modifications as we move along. Joe and Martha realize, Joe’s Cafe is not a restaurant for their own pleasure. The restaurant is for their customers who live within a 3 miles radius of the restaurant.

In addition to the previous 6 major points, now Joe and Martha include a survey their potential market, their 3 miles radius of influence. Why 3 miles? People do not travel more then 3 miles to go out for dinner.

How will the menu be written? It all depends of the owners personality, the theme of the restaurant, the price and the market aimed at.

Is the menu one page, 2, 3 or 4. The placement of each item has an importance. On a double spread menu the dish, which bring the best return (considering the food/labor/cost,) is the cash cow, needs to be placed to the right page 3/4 high in the page to get the most attention form the guests.

As you can see Menu Engineering is not done any old way. It takes a lot of thought to design a concept menu which will make your life leasier and monetarise your business to its best capacity. Remember, if you are or want to get involved in the Hospitality Industry, the only thing which make sense is the Bottom Line. If your restaurant doesn’t make money, why are you still in it? It might be time to throw the sponge.

Here is an example of a menu for Joe’s Cafe, with a text on the casual, with a bend to the humorist side.


Stella’s Cafe

Comfort Food par Excellence with a French flair

our MENU for the Month of March 2017

Complete Dinner

Choice of one Appetizer

Soup & Salad

Choice of one Entree

Choice of one Dessert

Choice of one Glass of Wine or Soft Drink

thirty three  dollars and twenty two cents


Shrimp Cocktails with Stella‘ s cocktail sauce, $7.86

Stuffed Mushroom Caps [Portobellos]with herbs garlic and vegies, $8.97

Stuffed Tomato Stuffed with herbs and shrimps a finger licking deal, $8.91

Croustillades Not Italian by all means, still with tomatoes, garlic and Parmesan cheese, $4.95


Soup of the Day bowl $5.98 cup $3,46

Tomato Soup You’ll love this one, bowl $6.76 cup $3.86 

Chicken Chinese Soup not a copy of a Pho, a serious improvement, bowl $7.87

Finger Food

Fish Taco (3) with all the freshness you always want from a fish $8.76

Chicken Taco (3) not like in Mexico. the way they make ’em in Paris $8.23

Chicken Burrito this one is a wiggy piggy and good to boot $8.99

The Burgers

(the burgers are served with rissolees potatoes)

Le Classic lettuce tomato, with  an onion ring and half a pound of grass fed Black Angus added a homemade 1,000 Islands dressing. The hot buns of the chef will not be in your plate, but home baked ones will. $9.97

Le Frenchy, those Frenchies, really a funny race never miss the opportunity to drive everybody crazy. They have done it again by adding a sunny side up fried egg on top of the classic burger. Now a National Success, of which Nation? Who knows? Some are in the boonies $11.99

Over the Top, this one carries its name well. A double classic––yes two ½ pound patties Gorgonzola cheese and Swiss cheese. Eat it and you won’t sleep tonight $14.78

The Specialties

(the specialties are served with choice of vegetable and sauté potatoes. Add a cup of soup and a house salad with any specialty (with your choice of dressing for only $3,00))

Stella’s Omelette It is a fluffy 4 eggs omelette slow cooked to perfection. Asparagus, mushrooms,

Tomatoes & Swiss cheese, for a mere $8.97

Meat Loaf from Stella‘s recipe developed while Stella had a vision in a dream. Ghosts and goblins were carrying her on a whiter than white cloud. Fortunately she was not doing any laundry. In exchange to be flown back to her bed the goblins gave her their favorite Meat Loaf Recipe. Today she will share this extravagance with you if you promise to tell no one how good this dish is. (she doesn’t want the word to spread beyond the city limits––it will end up by too much work. Stella our glorious chef to the stars loves to take it easy) $11.97

Macaroni & Cheese Stella will cook with all the love and skill of the original French Chefs who devised the dish. Introduced in the US by Jefferson, now devoured by millions everyday. $7.68

Stella’s Pasta another tour de force, single handed Stella created a mind blowing pasta dish, which conquered the king of pop. Yes, a favorite of Michael Jackson here tonight on your table for only $9.97

Petite Steak a 10 oz. grass fed in a small farm in Colorado shipped directly to us, cooked to your specs, enjoy at an incredible price of  $19.77 

Flounder Stuffed with shrimps and green pepper, boiled potatoes, onion and cajun spices a delicacy to be shared with your better half or your mistress(this is the French flair.) $17.74 

Texas Chili The same way they make tin Texas… Hell, NO. The way Stella makes it. Why do you call it Texas Chili? So you can read the blurb, Got you. With cheddar cheese $13.46


Heavenly Rissoles Potatoes $4.16

French String beans flown in from France $5.14

Black Beans from Mexico $4.56

Chips & Salsa $3.64

House Salad a la carte $3.25 

Croustillades (6) $3.78

Stella’s Baked Potato (butter, sour cream, Swiss cheese, chives) $6.25

Stella’s Coleslaw  (cabbage, carrots, and Stella’s dressing) $ 3.75

Sweet Tooth Anyone?

Apple Pie Grand Ma’s recipe $4.79

Bread Pudding drowned in Caribbean rum $5.46

Creme Caramel the original French recipe $5.34

Pear Bourdaloue a classic of French deserts pears and almond paste $6.78

Banana Split all ice creams are homemade including the whipped cream $8.97

Banana Flambees an old classic worth to be revived $8.67 

The Beers

We only serve pints of draft beers, we mean beer not watered down piss like a Light Bud or the like.

Urkell Pilsner Czechoslovakia (The Queen of beers) $6.76

IPA U.K (If you insist) $6,87

Wheat Beer U.S (for the kick searcher) $6.97

Dark Beer Germany (We have to have one) $6.88

The Wines

Stella personally select only the best of the best wines for the very best prices. This takes savvy and perseverance added to a great palate. Here is her selection for the month on March 2017

White Chateau Seguin Pinot Gris $11.45 Glass $5.12

Rose Provencal $12.78 Glass  $5.46

Red Pinot $13,78 Glass $5.98

Corkage fee $1.00

Coffees, Waters, Sodas

Coffee (Bottomless French Roast) $2.01

Espresso $1.75

Cafe au lait $3.21

Soda $2.34 Bottle Water $1.98


Look under your saucer if you have an orange sticker you have won a FREE Croustillades(4 pieces) or a green sticker to be eligible for our weekly drawing

This menu is only an example. In your neck of the woods you have to make your own, according to your concept and who are the customers you are aiming at. 

Think outside of the box, be original, different. Your Menu is the best piece of advertising that you have. Make it your priority to be good, sorry I don’t mean good, good being the ennemy of great. MAKE IT GREAT––Use your *USP


*What is USP? Stay tuned  coming up, the whole shebang on USP

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