Cafes, coffee shops, food markets, restaurants, fast food chains, bakeries, the list of places to grab a bite to eat goes on and on.
If you are a food serving premises your menu needs to be all things to all people.
The demographic of your area is hugely important. Analytics are not just for IT.
The most successful clothes retailer in the world Zara has become so, through careful analysis of what their customers browse and buy in their stores and online, and the ability to speedily tweak these items every season to make them fresh and fashionable and deliverable quickly.
If you translate that business model into food thinking you can see how and why it’s so successful.
Now let me tell you a story about a recent visit I paid to a new licensed premises that has opened in my area. We have a traditional high street still of independent premises including a fine dining restaurant, 3 fast food takeaways, a sit down fast food restaurant, 2 pubs and 2 other long standing cafes.
The area is full of families and the premises that has opened is in fact opposite a school. I like to support local business so paid a visit.
There were 4 people, one a vegetarian, one a coeliac, one who eats high protein and low carbs and a small child.
I could only describe the menu as disappointing.
At least 15 different paninis, soup which was cheese and potato flavour that day, no kids menu, lots of different all day breakfast type items, and a few variations on a jacket potato.
I wondered if my group were awkward customers with our various food requirements but when I looked at the large group of people I know we were fairly representative.
Whether this business will survive remains to be seen but my experience of the menu seemed to highlight the opposite of the food trends we are reading about and seeing being implemented from large food retailers down to the street vendors.
Veganism has risen 350% in the last 10 years largely driven by the young and Pret a Manger have just opened their 2nd Vegan and Vegetarian outlet in London.
The Paleo diet is alive and well in many gyms across the country alongside high protein and low carbs (have you seen the size of the M&S range supporting this way of eating?!)
60% of adults in the UK have bought a gluten free product from the supermarket regardless of whether they are coeliac or not and this market has grown huge amounts in recent years.
Sugar is never out of the headlines and producers are introducing new lower sugar ranges all the time.
You may have been asked how many syn’s an item on your menu has by one of the 800,000 weekly Slimming World members.
Add to that the very real threat of legislation from the Government for companies to reduce the sugar on their menus not to mention the sugar tax, and rising ingredient costs.
There is certainly a lot to think about when menu planning for the modern diner!
Flexible menus can help where you can build your own from a base and add ingredients depending on your dietary requirements.
This way a brilliantly executed base can be vegetarian, chicken or fish based.
Add different types of bread, no bread or alternatives.
So your burger option could be veggie, chicken or cheese, brioche bun or lettuce leafs, hot or cool.
Healthy options could be build your own salads. Swapping pasta options for courgetti, chips for sweet potato.
The options are endless and can appeal to everyone.
Don’t forget the kid’s too as parents like to go out! Mini portions of your menu choices or family favourites with quality ingredients will always go down well.
Focus on a perfectly formed small menu executed with care and you won’t go far wrong.
What tips would you add for creating the perfect menu?