5 Menu Layout Ideas for Restaurants & Cafes

Do you need to know how to design a menu layout in a way that maximizes restaurant profits? Our post explores the 5 psychology-backed menu layout ideas for restaurants and cafes.

1. Making a First Impression

The menu layout design, is often dictated by the establishments target market. High-end restaurant menu layout is subtler than a local cafe menu layout, but both need to be strategically planned, and easy to navigate.

The golden triangle, middle, upper right and upper left are the sweet spots. This prime real estate is where the most profitable items are placed. Limit the available choices to seven items per section, placing the most cost-effective first. Often the first two items of a category are the best sellers.

Limit the use of photos to one per page. Use high-quality images, which show the textures and colour of the ingredients. Choose an appealing and profitable dish, as a photograph can boost item sales by up to 30%. Often a high-end restaurant menu layout will feature illustrations instead of a photo.

2. Emphasize Certain Items to Generate Sales

When considering how to design a menu layout, think of ways to guide the diners eye to your most profitable menu items. Eye magnets are designed to draw the eye using a range of techniques. Photos, graphics and illustrations are ideal for highlighting a specific dish or ingredient. Shading, colours, and borders are useful techniques for separating sections, or highlighting a specific dish, or special item on the menu. To guide the diner, ribbons, pointing hands, and arrows, are also helpful devices.

Surrounding a key menu item with a border and negative space, is a very effective technique, when used sparingly. Combining colour into the border, or shading under the items description, are effective menu layout ideas.

Placing a decoy item, in a prime position at the top of a menu can enable more profitable dishes to be chosen more often. A decoy dish, is usually an excessively expensive item. It is priced and positioned, so that other more cost-effective foods will be reasonably priced, and desirable.

Grouping expensive items together, incorporating these other techniques with this group, can help the diner to see them as value for money.

3. Using Colour to Stimulate the Diner

Colour has a subconscious effect, and can generate an emotional response in diners. Using colour to emphasize specific items, or sections of a menu can subtly influence the patron’s choices. Various colours are associated with a list of cocktails, food categories and other beverages.

Blue is often connected with the sea, and freshly caught seafood. Freshly picked garden vegetables are often associated with green. Healthy foods are often linked to the colour orange. Using these colours for sections, can subconsciously influence diners.

Some colours have a psychological effect. Red is an effective colour for stimulating appetite. Yellow can be used to draw attention to an item or section. Blue can have a calming effect. Effectively positioning these colours, within the text, as a border, or as shading, can lead to some interesting menu layout ideas.

Using colour photos, can boost sales of specific items on the menu. And graphics and illustrations in specific colours, can visually identify sections.

4. Appetizing Descriptions

According to Greg Rapp, Menu Engineer, “People taste what you tell them they’re tasting.” Learning how to design a menu layout, involves developing creative names and appealing descriptions for dishes. With a good description of a dish, sales of that item can increase 27%. Descriptions need to be appetizing and appealing. The phrasing needs to be evocative and sensory ,but should avoid superlatives.

Geographic descriptors are ideal for establishments who focus on organic and local produce. Stating that the ingredients are from the local region, can play on the diner’s ethical emotions, producing added sales. Using regionally registered produce, can give some authenticity to a restaurant’s menu.

A lot of people yearn for simpler times. Using nostalgic descriptions can offer the diner, food from a simpler time. ‘Good old-fashioned apple pie’, just seems to taste better. Often the patron sees nostalgic menu items as healthier, bringing back happy memories, and shared experiences.

When developing descriptions, use sensory language. Describe the ingredients used, to evoke images of freshness. Describe the texture and feel of the foods. Where foods are processed in-house, explain parts of the process with mouth-watering descriptors. Allow the diner, to visualize the taste, before ordering.

Good descriptions can form a bond between the chef and the diner. Humanize the food by using the chef’s name in the dish title, or within the description. Sometimes, humanizing a dish works very well with nostalgic foods.

5. Menu Pricing for Better Sales

Effective menu layouts avoid the use of currency symbols, as it reminds the diner of a financial transaction and causes psychological ‘pain’. By showing the numerals only, there is less connection with currency.

Pricing items with a column, causes the diner to focus on the price. This often leads to the cheapest item being purchased. Instead, use nested pricing at the end of the description, using the same font. Showing the price in words, instead of numerals, is even more effective.

The pricing of menu items, although tied to profitability, should consider the friendly numbers. Patrons have a perception about certain numbers. Prices ending in .95, are perceived as friendly prices, excellent value for money. Prices ending in .99, are considered cheap, but may be of a lower quality. Items priced with .00, are sometimes perceived as pretentious. Good menu layouts use a mixture of these prices, according to the menu items available.

Artwork submission terms & conditions

By uploading your artwork with Orston Pty Ltd here you are agreeing to following terms and conditions:

a) Once you upload your artwork for your order this is final. If there are any issues with your artwork we will notify you first, otherwise printing will begin from the file you supply.

b) If the artwork supplied does not satisfy the criteria on the print template we will contact you and there will be a 'resubmission fee' outlined below.

c) If you choose to change your artwork and we have not yet begun the printing process there will be a 'resubmission fee' outlined below.

Resubmission Fee: For each resubmission there is a $55 inc. GST fee. This is payable via invoice before we recommence your job.

Contact us here if you have any questions.

Custom Logo/Design Print

We can print your company logo or custom design on your menu covers. This adds a unique aesthetic and helps branding your establishment. The per unit fees for each style of printing are outlined next to each print option in the select list. There is no additional discount for custom printing like there is on the covers themselves.

Digital UV print (full colour) - 10cm x 10cm

This is a high quality full colour print using a UV process. There are no additional setup fees for this option. If you require a larger print size than 10cm x 10cm there will be additional fees for this. Contact us here for a quote.

Foil stamp print (1 colour) - 15cm x 15cm

This process places a foil stamp in the colour of your choice. If you require a larger print size than 15cm x 15cm there will be additional fees for this. Contact us here for a quote.

Artwork & Design Instructions

All custom printed items require an artwork file to be supplied for each order. After you checkout you will be prompted to upload this file.

Click here to download printing design template.

Click here if you would like us to help you design your art.

Click here to contact us if you have any questions.

Stamp copper plate setup fee

When we do Foil Stamping we first need to create your copper plate stamp master. Due to the complexity involved in this we charge a one-off $105 (inc GST) for creating the plate for the first order and then $40(nc GST) for every order after that

Click here to contact us if you have any questions.

All Foil Stamp Printing requires a Copper Plate Creation or Setup Fee

When we do stamp printing we need to first create a copper plate and then setup your job. Because of the process involved we charge additional fees for this printing option outlined below.

Option 1. Copper plate creation + setup fees for new customers - $105 (inc GST)
This option is required if you have NOT done done stamp printing with us before - or - you wish to change your logo or design from your last stamp print job. This fee covers creation of your copper plate + setup for the new job. After we make your copper plate (provided your designs do not change) you can use this for your next stamp printing job with us and only pay the reduced rate for setup fees below.

Option 2. Setup fees for existing customers who already have a copper plate - $40 (inc GST)
This is option is only for customers who we have previously made a copper plate for your last stamp printing job and the design or logo has not changed. This fee covers setting up your new job and using your existing your existing plate.


Q: If I order more than 1 type of product with stamp printing do I need to pay additional plate or setup fees for each item?
A: No, not unless you wish for a different design to be on the different items. If these are different you will need to purchase a new plate for each job.

Q: I have a copper plate made by another company, can I use this?
A: Unfortunately not because we use a unique process for our machinery and therefore need to make a new plate