So - as I only had the pleasure of spending Monday and Tuesday at the Pizza Expo I have been left with a couple of questions.

We are coming up on our first year in business (April 16!) and would like to make some changes to our current menu. I spent a lot of time creating the original in excel and while I am sure that it wasn’t the most practical way to go, it worked at the time. I refuse to spend design fees but am curious what everyone else does?

We are looking to add a few things and I would like to change up the look as we had a competitor open up about a month ago and they ripped off the entire design of my menu (boo!)

Suggestions would be great - as well as suggestions on who to use to get them printed.

Also - Does anyone offer desserts from their take-out only pizza shop? If so, what do you offer.

Thanks so much!


I think going too cheap on the menus is a bit shortsighted, especially if a new competitor ripped off your design. If I were in your shoes I would have a company design and print the menus so they look professional and appealing. To get the proper software and equipment it will cost you much more than the marginal difference between printing your own and having them printed.
I personally use Mailshark for all my design and printing. Their design and sales staff are awesome to work with, and I’ve been happy with everything theyve done for me. I haven’t shopped around in the last two years because I’ve been so happy with them and their year long marketing program. My business increased 40% the first year I used their services.
I have also used Coonex, a company based in Canada because they had the cheapest prices when I opened my first store, and nearly everyone I knew in the business used them at the time too - most still do. I think the majority of their customer base is here in Massachusetts and the NE. I have no complaints about the service i received from them either.
As far as new items and desserts, one good place to start would be to talk to your vendors. They can give you a good idea of what moves at other stores and where current trends are going. I don’t carry desserts all the time, but sometimes i will order 5-6 trays from a specialty bakery a few towns over to drop off while theyre delivering to other places in the area, and sell them or give them for free to some of my good customers.

Ouch… just because I designed them doesn’t mean they look cheap :frowning:

Will look into the websites but I am extremely picky when it comes to designs (I’m female - what can I say), and I understand the cheap comment - I just want cost effective… not “cheap”.

Sometimes spending too little money to get the job done does not get the job done and is just a waste of money…Over the years I have seen plenty of poorly designed menus, magnets, etc. from my clients…Many years back I just printed what was sent to me…Now I do not need the sales that bad, so if a project is not “worthy” I pass on it…

A lot of people see graphic design as something that they can do without. I was very much of the same opinion, i used to do all my own as well, my friends and family said they looked great as well. Then i paid a designer to do them. The results where terrific, 1000 times better than mine. colourful, sharp, engaging, call to action.

I ve never done it myself since.

make sure though that you get copyright to the design, or as a minimum the abilty to reproduce at will.

Also try and get your designers to use[/url] so that if you want to change your prices or add a few products then you just update [url=] and it imports all your changes into the design, without having to redo anything or pay your designer again

Hope that helps


Mark Jones

Alright. You made a menu in excel, a spreadsheet program. There is no way it compares to a professionally designed menu. Your competitors were probably cheap as well and just used excel. I can assure you that they weren’t copying you. It is difficult to do anything to make an excel menu not look like a spreadsheet.

You said you weren’t cheap, but anyone under 25 can tell that you used excel. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Hire a designer.

Up until about 10 years ago I also made my own menus. Spent hours and really liked the way they looked. But as time went on and with information gathered here I decided to take the plunge and have my menus done by a professional.

Contacted Taradel and they sent me a sample pack of all kinds of menus. I looked through them all and decided on a few different ones I liked things about. Chris Barr a regular around here hooked me up with a designer. We opted to pay the fee…I think it was about 200 bucks.

BUT the catch is you get FREE updates to your text for LIFE. You can update your menu items and prices for free for life!

So I understand not wanting to pay a design fee for something you can do but do you really want to continue that for years to come? Why not spend your time doing what you are best at (running your business) and let a designer who is best at designing do your menu.

You have the option to do your own menu and design and just have it printed (4 color) but for a tiny investment they will do it.

Anyway, we have used Taradel for years. They did a terrific job on our menu and I have appreciated the service all these years. Check out their website or contact Chris Barr.

Take the plunge you won’t be disappointed.

Hi Erica,

This is Josh from the Mail Shark, As you are considering using a professional to design your menu there are 2 important questions that you should ask.

  1. You should ask who will own the artwork, pictures, etc. once the menu has been completed. In the event that you ever want to leave the company and or person that had previously designed your menu, will they supply you with the artwork? Not just a PDF that you can print but the actual Native art files that will allow design changes to be made. This one question could save you a lot of time, money and frustration down the line. Price is important but if you don’t own you artwork, you will have to pay for it again and that price that saved you $50 on the front end is now costing you $200 more down the line.

  2. Is my design going to be a custom design or based on a template? I’ve seen it happen where two people in the same town end up with similar looking menu not necessarily because one stole the design from the other but that the printer copied their design, not realizing the location of their customers.

All that said included with all of our print and/or mailing jobs nothing ever gets printed until you are 100% satisfied with the results. We have an enormous library of pictures to utilize and you can browse and choose anything you want to incorporate into your menu, again at NO CHARGE! With over 25 graphic artists working on our team, we guarantee you will love the design or it doesn’t print. We would love the opportunity to earn your business.”

Josh Davis
2325 Perkiomen Ave
Reading, PA 19606
Direct: 484-948-1611
Mobile: 484-269-3715

Kris - thank you so much for the plug. I just got back from the Pizza Expo (red eye flight, ack!) and had an opportunity to meet with a bunch of Think Tankers. Daddio and I had a great conversation about the TT yesterday and it truly is amazing how much people care about this online community.

If any TT’ers need help with menu design, printing, or EDDM services - I am always here to help. Please call me directly at 1-800-481-1656 x22 or email me

All the best folks!

P.S. We all owe Daddio a round of applause for keeping this forum going and spam-free!

Hey, Sorry i didnt mean to imply they were poorly designed, cheap looking, or ineffective, and i apologize if my comment sounded rude.
I was just trying to emphasize the fact that you shouldn’t be hesitant to spend money if it will make you more money down the line. Oftentimes, the menu is the first impression people get of your store. In a lot of stores that focus on delivery, the menu can be the ONLY impression people have of your store before they call. It is your first chance with a majority of customers to convey your focus on quality, attention to detail, and professionalism.
I have seen menus simliar to what you describe, and they are effective in some cases. But focus on your menu for what it is - one of your most important, widely distributed and effective marketing tools.

I have the best of both worlds. One of my bros-In-law is s graphic designer. Another is former CIO of 2 major corporations…at least a small facet of startup is going well!