Large , medium or small menu for maximum profits?

Do you feel having a large, extended menu gives your business the advantage over the competition?

my $.02 worth…

Yes, I think it is and advantage.

Question is would it bring in more additonal to cover the additional costs.

I think you can go overboard on it also…as a customer, I am wary of a place that carries lots of stuff, maybe that I am peculiar since I am in the restaurant business.

As for me, pizza, 10 topping and soda on my menu.
If a family wants to go to Subway for the variety of taste, I fully understand. They even have pizza now, so you can see how the additions satisfy more people with just that one example.

I am in a trailer and have run out of room.


There are several theories of menu development, and I ascribe to parts of a couple. For my wife and me, our menu is a printed extension of our business philosophy and concept in addition to our food item listing and pricing guide. It is the foundation of our marketing and sales concept before we even pretty it up to put on paper.

I personally believe that for my shop, a VARIED menu gives me the opportunity to draw additional repeat sales more often. It also allows me to draw sales from groups who don’t all want pizza . . . or the same boring pizza. For a 2400 sq ft operation, we have a VERY wide selection of items on the menu. We also have developed lots of “signature pizzas” in order to produce multiple items using the same ingredients. There is a thread or theme for all that we do, and we don’t add in things like burritos; fried shrimp or fried chicken just to make an extra buck. We think the same thing about places that are “all cuisines all the time”.

Strategic menu building will allow you to have many offerings using a relatively smaller collection of ingredients. Ricotta gives me lasagna, ricotta topping on pizzas, calzones and cannoli . . . with possibility for cannelloni later. Strategic menus will increase your profitability. Large menus for the sake of size can siphon the productivity right out of your operation. 26 toppings gives me 403,291,461,126,606,000,000,000,000 variations on a pizza using ONE sauce . . . plus variations of calzone, stromboli, salads, sandwiches.

Sure, its all bread, cheese, sauce and toppings, but it is creative and intentional variety plus greater perception of expertise and higher market positioning. Econo-pizza places don’t have an artichoke heart, feta and spinach pie on garlic butter sauce or the same in a calzone.

(su<k hit the word police)[/size]

having a big menue has disadvantge people stop at your store and order a sub that you did not excute very well cause you are a pizza place and you focus on pizza the cutomer will get the impression that that your pizza is not good as well

nkicks how did you arrive at that number ?

Nicks calculations are quite accurate, it is the factorial value of 26, or 26x25x24…x3x2x1.
If you have say 15 toppings then you are limited to 1,307,674,368,000 combinations, again only accounting for 1 type of sauce and cheese.

Nick I think your number is too high…
This site says for 25 ingredients the number is 33 million and change…

Nick’s answer is 26!, but that’s not the number of pizzas he can make. Order doesn’t matter – a pepperoni and pepper pie is the same as a pepper and pepperoni, right? He can make a total of 2^26 = 67,108,864. Think of this way. Every time someone orders a pie, you run down the list of ingredients

You want pepperoni?
you want sausage?
you want mushrooms?
etc, etc. for a total of 26 questions.

They can answer each question either yes or no. So the number of choices is
2 X 2 X2 … X2, with one 2 per topping,for a total of 26 twos, thus 2^26. It’s still a big number. And nick, we’ll want one of each!

Great input people. Have you ever wondered how Papa Johns got so big with a menu the size of a business card?

I don’t want to hijack the thread since menu construction is important, but I can see the point that factorial is not the computation to use here. It is still funner than saying “12 options”.

More importantly, lilian makes a good point that you gotta have everything in place to handle your menu *staffing * cooking equipment * food storage capacity * facilities (including space and utilities) * cooking proficiency * prep ahead * order taking capacity * delivery staff * even parking matters!

One reason I do not offer french fries on my menu is that I do not have freezer capacity to store adequate stock, nor fryer capacity to cook necessary volume along with other menu items, nor do I have adequate hot holding equipment to meet that need.

However, I do have everything in place to manage, even on our record-setting night, everything we have on our current menu . . . plus capability to add a couple of other items if chosen very strategically.

I agree nick. I too, do not sell fries. I tell customers that McDonalds sell fries- we sell wedges(potatoe wedges)

Nick, How do you remember all these pizza recipes? I have trouble with my 21 variants. :stuck_out_tongue: :smiley:

We have 21 signatute pizzas, plus a range of pastas, lasagne, ribs, wedges, and lamb shanks. I hate to admit it but we also do Nachos which I hate and want to drop but they have a great cost to sales and are very profitable.

I tend to look to additions to our menu that no one else does such as the Lamb Shanks. We took on stock taht our supplier couldn;t get rid of as a sell through special line for winter but they took off so well they are now sold all year round - packaged up with in a foil container with a small serve of wedges on top.

We look at additions that are different, easy and can go through the oven. Currently we put pizzas, lasagne, shanks, ribs, wedges and garlic bread through the oven. Pastas and nacho go in the microwave.


On a personal level, I feel a medium size menu that is streamlined to utilize the majority of the products in different area’s is the best way to go.
I own 4 stores now ranging from 1500-2400 sq ft. I took over the family business with my brother from my parent’s and over the last few years have been pairing down the menu to make it more efficient. Pizza is my priority, I offer over 28 toppings and 20 signature pizza’s that allow me to price a “gourmet” pizza and simplify things. I went from 4 diff size pizza’s down to 3.
We also sell subs and pasta’s. My Sub menu went from 26 different subs down to a dirty dozen. My pasta menu’s had almost 2 dozen now i have it down to 8. The best thing i did was invest in a good POS. It taught us what REALLY sold, not what we thought sold. After Studying the averages for the stores, we saw alot of high cost items were dragging down what we needed to really run well. By trimming the menu down, I managed to eliminate food cost and PAYROLL, because I didn’t need all the extra prep ppl we had always thought we need to run the stores.
With an average of 55% pizza, 25% subs, 9%pasta’s and the rest made up of items such as breadstix( a huge seller for the cost) I am now in talks to open about 5 more stores over the next 2 years, because I no longer need to worry about if “So and so didn’t show up and he is the only one at the location who can make said specialty sauce the right way”

Just my pennies

I’ve got to argue on fries. Cook them to order and throw some cheese and bacon on them. Cheese fries are one of the best and easiest appetizers out there. Serve with Ranch dressing.

You could even cut the potatoes to order if you really are hard up for freezer space – or, NICK, you could buy a mixer :).

Hey! now. I have bought a slicer to cut my onions and other stuff by hand and order whole vegetables. Should arrive later this week. Baby steps, man. Don’t want to pull a hammy :slight_smile: $75 for a used slicer i can scare up . . . $3000 for a mixer will take another couple of record sales weeks.

To be honest, though . . . Even if I had a 2 million square foot freezer and 1,800 fryers . . . we would not put french fries on our menu. We may change our minds later, but today they don’t fit into our concept and business plan. Now, we will be talked into some sort of fried potato product drizzled with olive oil, hit with minced oregano/basil and parmesan with side of pizza sauce. That fits our concept and identity. Our menu is an extension of our business model and brand . . . plain french fries don’t fit. We won’t give them a chance to associate us with the econo-pizza or “we sell everything” places.

We could even one day soon be talked into a sort of “potatoes parmesan” idea to get a fusion of kitschy Modern American Steakhouse with classic Italian-American cuisine. (Pancetta instead of bacon) For just a quick, fried potato snack, we would go with a seasoned potato wedge/log.

The variety, quality and fresheness kept us busy. Very labor intense and many many rushes I didn’t think we’d get through, but we always did it like pros. It depends on the structure, individuals, employees if you can pull it off or not.

I’m surprised to read about fries. I used a clear coated product and they were huge sellers.


I think your menu should be varied for sure. not sure who said pj’s has a menu the size of a business card…I doubt that now. the now sell more than pizza. the simple fact of the matter is this…

get six people together to go out to eat and you will get different suggestions. Now if your place satifises 4 out of 6 guess who they are going to.

We have pizzas, calzones, strombolis, subs, wings and italian entrees and salads. We get a lot of deliveries for the fact dad wants wings, mom wants a salad and the kids want pizza.

When going big start with your toppings from there think about other ways to use them. For example if you have bacon on your menu for a topping how far off is a BLT sandwich. do you have vegetables for your pizzas?? then a veggie sub is easy as well.

All I am saying is there doesn’t have to be a lot more overhead to get a bigger menu, just got to be creative.

sorry for the long post

pizzatime said it… " not sure who said pj’s has a menu the size of a business card…I doubt that now "

both are right, when they went public it was all the rage, a place with the menu that will fit a business card going public !
better ingredients, better pizza…so simple
now, not so simple, last time I looked at their menu, I had to search for pizza…
variety is a way you can bring a wider range of people in, just one way though,
hope that bit of history helps,


Ansd the quicker I can turn inventory to keep it fresh and/or from spoiling before I make money from it. I use my fajita chicken strips in a whooole lot of menu items . . . same with meatballs and even mushrooms.