Limited menu?

Anybody limit their menu and if so to what? I’d like to open a pizzeria this spring/summer and really keep the menu simple. Really good pizza, drinks and not much else. I don’t want to be everything to everyone and just want people to come in who want a really good pizza. I’d love your thoughts and how this has worked for you.

The customers of today are spoiled, though…they want to see a huge variety of choices, even if they only buy pizza. It’s sad, but a trend set by the big chains. I hope it works for you.

It is a trend started and continued by pizzerias all over who have found need ot increase market share and gross sales. When pizza isn’t bringing enough rain, then the savvy entrepreneur seeks new revenue streams . . . . salads . . . sandwiches . . . sides . . . sodas . . . appetizers. They is likely not one single pizza place in the US that sells pizza and pizza only. I stand to be proven wrong, but the point carries that it’s about getting the $$$ in the door.

To the original poster, the larger your marketplace, the greater possibility of meeting financial goals with smaller menu. Actually, the larger your customer base, really. More people in your market area means more people who might order only pizza and be satisfied. The more competitors in that market who offer broader options, the more pressure from customers demanding options from everyone. You can definitely make a business on pizza . . . great pizza and great service can carry you a long way. And even a menu with a few additional items is manageable . . . stuff to make it a full meal sort of concept, like breadsticks and slads and drinks. My recomendation is always to look at the pantry of goods and develop as many different practical means of using those pantry items as you need. No sense NOT selling cheesesticks/cheesebread in a pizzeria. Same with pepperoni rolls and stromboli if the process and handling works for you.

You are nuts not to have apps, salads and other add-on sales. Some customers will choose other competitors based on these things but more importantly, you are leaving money on the table:

  1. You already paid for customer aquisition (marketing)
  2. You already paid rent, utilities, insurance.
  3. You already covered delivery expense.

It is FAR more profitable to do more business with the same customer than it is to find another customer. Why not get another $5-$10 on the ticket? You make more net profit on that $5 than you do on the main item (pizza) when you consider that all the fundamental costs are already covered!

So… keep it simple, don’t go overboard with complexity… but you can do calzones, strombolli, bread sticks and cheesy bread with pizza ingredients and a killer garden salad by adding mixed greens and using pizza topping veggies.

People like things like wings, mozz sticks and other ovenable apps.

Would you rather have a $35 ticket average or $18?

Simple, sparse menus are usually a novice mistake. It doesn’t work that way in the food business.

You’re adding little value into your daily work, so you’ll reap what you sew. Profit is your reward for understanding human nature and the buying habits of people in your area, and for the work you put into your business.

As I mentioned in another post, JJ’s is a great example of a growing sub concept with over a thousand units and a very limited menu. They attribute part of their success to focusing on one main menu item, Subs, and not trying to be everything to everyone. They have very high PRA’s, well above Subway and Quizno’s. Over the last few years, I’ve read more than one article in NRN about keeping a menu simple and not venturing outside of what makes you great. Having worked for the Colonel for over twenty years, I remember our menu jumping all over the place with buffets, chicken fried steaks, fish, rotisserie, pot pies, etc…… They lost focus and it drove many of their operator’s nuts. I had numerous sheds of equipment that was no longer in use, after some product was pulled, because the flavor of the day, lost its appeal, and the customer became confused with KFC’s message. When done right, KFC served really good chicken while the other items were mediocre at best. Perhaps, it is a novice idea. But, I do appreciate all of the posts agreeable to it, or not.

John you kind of answered it in your last post. KFC went in too many directions and always went back to chicken. But always chicken with sides and other offerings based around the chicken. You do not need other main entrees but do offer enough that it is a complete meal and not just a pizza out the door. Also remember that these sides tend to be high margin items that are easy upsells! :mrgreen:

If you try and be everything to every one, a lot of folks will no longer consider you a pizza place and look for an alternative…So while you may have larger tickets, you may have less of them…

Defining what “simple” means is important, too. :lol: Are you talking about 4 or 5 pizzas only?
And will you be dine in only?

I always seem to be the “odd man out” on every subject… We have about 15 toppings, for our pizza, and we serve two different salads. Plus soda and beer. That’s it. We’ve considered menu expansion, but decided that an after-thought add-on was not where we wanted to go. (keep in mind that I’ve owned this place for 26 years…)

What I think of as simple would be pizza, drinks (maybe some custom or locally bottled soda or beer), and a limited variety of sides (if any at all). As to sides, I’m thinking of salads (what else would work), not wings or stromboli, sandwiches, or pasta etc… You guys have definitely got me thinking about this one. The more stripped down and simple the better.

Customer expectations help to dictate your menu. For example: we added wings a few years back because customers couldn’t understand why a pizza delivery place didn’t offer them. We made it a decade serving only pizza, breadsticks, a side salad and fountain drinks.

We’re getting ready to open another location with a dining room. It will have a wait staff (as opposed to being fast casual/counter service) so, in addition to beer, we are planning to add a few sandwiches, a couple baked pasta dishes and dessert to the menu. Those are items our (new) “fine dining” competition offer, so I’m sure we would be expected to have something similar.

I’m not suggesting you have to be this place: but it sounds like you are doing dine in and that requires a bit bigger tent than what I would suggest for a strict delco. Focus is all about the content of your message, not necessarily your menu… even though I offer wings, my marketing still talks about my pizza.

A sub shop is not pizza.

Are you doing delco only? Are you planning a fast-food approach, stand in line to order and get a number? Slices only?

MAYBE it could work under one of those scenarios. IF you’re in a large metro area with lots of business traffic. I doubt it would work for an evening-oriented shop.

Again, I really WISH it could work, it would make our lives a lot easier. But once big corp starts something, the pressure is on. The customers look at you, not doing whatever, and wonder why? You must not be as good as big corp, you aren’t offering deep fried beach balls like they are. You must not have the money to do that. You must be in trouble. You’re in a rut and must not be able to compete. Why get used to eating your food?

We did about 20K in salads during 2011 and about 40K in other sides. Those are dollars I would not have made and EVERY single dollar was an add-on. We do not get orders for just salad or just wings etc so our delivery costs were unchanged for that 60K.

For us that is like having a 13th month in the year with no added rent, wages, or utilities or insuance or marketing etc etc… that would make it by far the most profitable month of year! lol


In keeping with my New Year goal of being less curmudgeon like, I’ll add that in most cases, the correct answer is usually “it depends.”

Every market is different. Stripped down menus may work in place A, but fail miserably across the river in place B. It’s the same for discounts, uniforms, marketing strategies, flyer content, pricing, food style, portions, etc.

The competitive environment, the restaurant or delivery culture, the demographics of the market all have to be considered. If something isn’t working, you’ll change it anyway.

Bodegahwy is talking about “incremental” sales and they are very important to any business, not just food. They are sales that you didn’t budget for. You don’t have to add full fixed overhead to your cost because your base business has already covered that. You only have variable overhead with the added sale and that means a higher margin goes directly to the bottom line.

We have a winner!!

Low hanging fruit . . . 80/20 peincipal . . . fish on the line . . . whatever metaphor you use, you simply MUST have something to upsell the person on the phone. It makes no sense at all not to. This JJ’s franshise may be expanding . . . may even be making money the the stipped menu. It may be the perfect business model for you and your market . . .that’s the decision you need to make. It does, however, beg the eternal question, “Are they leaving money on the table?” Again, we are hundreds or thousands of miles from your market, and you have to make that determination.
(I tend to think they probably are missing aditional sales/profits for the purpose of simplifying operations)

I want too touch on Jimmy John’s. Hands down the best large frachise subs around. If I have to grab something fast and I hate fastfood… JJ’s is it 99% of the time. They are simple and very straight forward. That said… they need sides! A salad option! Soup! Something other than chips and a cookie! Yes it works and has worked since they opened. They have decent meats and cheese. Not top shelf but well above Subway or Quiznos. Veggies are always good. Are they leaving money on the table… YES… and MILLIONS a year at that! Why haven’t they expanded? Who knows. They pay people to tell them what too do and so far they are satisfied at selling what they do for what they want. I understand keeping basic straight forward subs your main menu item… I am really sick of all the Subway and Quiznos gimmicks that change by the hour…but a little expansion would be nice if you are listening Jimmy John’s! :idea:

Until you have become a well known destination business renowned for your limited pizza, pulling customers from out of town to purchase your food, I don’t think you can get away with a small menu.

Although subs are in the food industry and all our pizza equipment/product allows us to do subs easily, subs are a different category to pizza. So you can not compare the two, you have different customers, different busy periods, different margins, very different ticket values and a different reason to purchase.

New menu items gives you a reason to shout about your company and products, without new products all you can do is shout the same message or shout about deals/discounts. That’s why KFC et al have ‘New Super Tower Zinger Triple Burger with Tangy Twisty Fries’ rather than ‘Another burger in a bun with fries’.