menu engineering question

I’m working on the 3rd revision of my menu since opening. Lots of my items have add-ons such as meatballs with spaghetti, chicken with my salads, etc. Which is better? Having a less expensive base with add-ons or bundling the entree with the add-ons together and subtracting the add-on if the customer chooses?

Example: Baked Spaghetti with meatballs for $7.48 or Baked Spaghetti for $5.49 Add Meatballs for $1.99 more.

Last month, 84% of my customers added meatballs when they ordered the Baked Spaghetti. My other add-ons (chicken on salads) is much lower than that.

It will be interesting to read other folks take on this question but my first thought is I’d stick with the lower price and not worry that the customer probably isn’t adding up the price of adding in the meatballs for instance. The lower entree price seems like what jumps out to me and I’d be surprised if your customers don’t perceive it as the “better buy” when placed up against “spaghetti with meatballs”.

I’ll be watching carefully though…we’re building our first menu into our POS as we “speak”!

I know I’m kind of answering my own question, but I’m still open to other thoughts. It seems that people are more price conscious than ever and having my spaghetti priced at $5.49 is a pretty good deal. Since 84% of my customers get the add-on meatballs, the price of $1.99 probably is not that much of a factor. But the perception of a $7.48 entree may be perceived by some as being kind of expensive (if compared to a value meal at a fast-food restaurant). Therefore, I’m kind of leaning towards keeping it the way it is (at least for that entree).

As for salads, I’m only get about 40% of my customers that add chicken. If I could just get that to 75%, I would add about $400 in monthly sales. I already have all of my order-takers trained to ask, “Would you like to add chicken to that salad?” Maybe it’s the nature of salads that those people are thinking “I’m not going to screw up my salad (i.e. diet) by adding chicken.”

In a printed menu, several things come to mind - primacy & recency - those items folks see 1st & last s/b your best sellers/best gross items…hence you see apps 1st & hi-GP items on the right page, perhaps half way down…similar principles apply 2 display menu boards…

Who puts $ signs on their prices…It is my understanding that removing the $ signs helps remove the focus on price…

in addition 2 the $ sign, items ending in .99 are perceived as “discounted” whereas items ending in .95 are not…go figure

That is a very interesting point. I’ve never heard that before, but it makes a lot of sense. Maybe I’ll try that.

We don’t use dollar signs because I had read something about that years ago.

As for bundling the stuff we list our menu like:

                                           Dinner       Ala Carte

Spaghetti 55.55 5.55
Spaghetti with Meatballs 55.55 5.55

Sure we can’t hit every option like adding chicken to a salad (although we do have a chicken salad) but when they add it to something we just add it.

I am not sure if all this will line up like I am typing but you get the drift.


okay so it didn’t like up like I typed it but we list the dinners under dinner and ala carte under ala carte.

Absolutly do not use dollar signs,
everything that that you want to sound like a good price should be .99
I took a one day market class that talked about those to points.
also I would do the base price and the plus, because the intitial price of 5.99 (not 5.49) will be what they remember.
also instead of offering chicken on our salads, we engineered salads that had chicken, like grilled chicken salad, buffalo chicken salads, chef salads are in our premium salads its already priced up.