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How many menus should you produce? Great question. It’s not an exact science, but there are some rules of thumb and planning considerations for menu production. One rule of thumb for printed menus which are reused (i.e. in vinyl slip covers, hard bound menu covers, etc) is to produce 1.5 times the number of seats you have (this is cutting it close and conservative.)
Menu Production: How Many?
In addition to what you need for normal operations, consider also printing extras over the 1.5x seat count allotment for: replacing bad menus (defects, wear/tear, etc), stolen or missing menus (maybe you did something so nice it grows legs and becomes a souvenir), and then also consider providing full menus to local businesses, food writers/media, and local concierges (these constituents can deliver big group business so it doesn’t pay to skimp and send them a photocopy of the menu – why not give them a full hard bound menu if that’s what you offer your customers.)
Menu Production: Expense?
In addition to those uses, also consider a less expensive version which is intended to be taken away such as putting in the bag with all to-go orders, in takeout bags, deliveries, and at local events you may participate in. According to companies like MyCreativeShop, it is often much more economical to print/produce too many than to have to go back for a second-run printing or order replacements at a higher price per unit.