Did you know that the colors red and blue stimulate our appetites, while purple and gray have the opposite effect? Perhaps not, but it’s a widely-known fact among hospitality and restaurant professionals. In fact, the industry is full of tricks like this, all carefully researched and practiced to part you most effectively from your money.
Menus Practice Advertising Strategies
Diners view menus as a simple list of options and prices. Restaurateurs see more potential in the sheet of paper—it’s an advertisement. And for this reason, they will make the most out of every square inch. Much like newspapers, they’ll put their favored (read: most profitable) item in the upper right-hand corner, where eyes naturally fall. They’ll banish the dollar sign—or any mention of actual money—from the page to avoid reminding diners that a restaurant is, essentially, a food store. The debate about dish description rages on: brand names and strong adjectives are shown to improve sales, but overly verbose descriptions lose diners along the way.
The Menu Can Ruin A Dish
One restaurant owner, quoted by the New York Times, drew a parallel between menus and lyrics: “The chefs write the music and the menu becomes the lyrics, and sometimes the music is gorgeous and it’s got the wrong lyrics and the lyrics can torpedo the music.” In our current economic climate, restaurants can’t afford to have damaging lyrics. Who knew that a sheet of paper, so often splashed by our water glass and crinkled from fidgety hands, held so much influence?
Sit With Your Back To The Wall
Now, we’re not saying to avoid those manipulative restaurant scoundrels. We’re not saying, in fact, that anything is wrong with their tactics. Part of our reality nowadays is that it’s nearly impossible to escape advertising and marketing, even when we sit down to dinner. So next time you meet your friend for a quick lunch out, just keep in the back of your mind that a restaurant isn’t a respite from the ads on the street—it’s just another version.
Tell us in the comments: Do you already know what you want when the menu arrives, or do you pick from the proffered options?