All too many restaurant menus are designed and printed at the local all night copy joint. If you pay in peanuts expect to get monkeys. For the average restaurant, just a redesign of their menu incorporating some basic menu engineering techniques can boost monthly net profits by $1,000 per million in revenue – that’s without huge price hikes and massive menu overhauls.
The going rate for a competent “design” (that’s after the analysis and engineering work has been done) is about $1,000 per page/panel for your menu. That’s the “design” average. What also impacts menu design budgets beyond the analysis and design work is what level your existing brand platform is established and in place. Meaning, the menu design must reflect the brand platform, not be a total departure from it. In addition there should also be budget lines for professional copywriting, printing/production, and potentially for new food photography and any new brand elements that may be introduced both to the menu and overall brand platform. For comparison sake, the lowest-priced menu engineering project we did was for $2,500 for a $1.2m independent and the highest was $100,000 for a $2 billion restaurant chain – this type of work is budgeted almost exclusively on the complexity of the operation being analyzed. In terms of design, we typically average $1,000 per page/panel where there is an existing/established brand platform. Again, these are just to give you a feel for what specialized/experienced menu engineering and design consultants charge. The most talented graphic designer in the world may be able to do some amazing things design-wise, but keep in mind that effective menu engineering and design is about more than just how the menu looks. Effective menu engineering and design requires a multi-disciplined team and takes a lot of tedious work including the testing, analysis, design revisions, reviews and approvals, pre-press work and print-ready files, rollout strategy/fulfillment, and more; but well-executed it can be one of the surest ways to quickly and measurably lift sales, profits and guest satisfaction.