Need assistance in redesigning our menu

It has been a while since I have posted here. We have had a tough year and are selling the building that we are in and moving to a leased space. The new space is equally as nice and offers a chance for us to redesign our menu.

We have always been a mid-high level end restaurant. We began our business by offering over stuffed sandwiches on traditional breads like a NY style deli. The reception was good and we were able to build a nice lunch crowd. About a year after establishing a nice lunch business we decided to expand into the pizza market. The pizza business is much more profitable than sandwiches, but we enjoy having a steady lunch crowd.

Here are our thoughts. We like offering the deli style sandwiches. We always use very nice ingredients and it results in a good sandwich. We do not want to raise prices any further for many reasons including the economy and a less than wealthy area. This leaves us with an attractive product but with little profit from each sale in sandwiches. We have always stayed away from the wings and subs and tried to put a nice slant on our products. We are now in a position in which we need to re analyze our menu and decide what will sell the most at the highest profit and still keep our customers happy. We refuse to sell cheap garbage for the reason of making a buck.

With that being said, we are happy with our pizzas and pizza menu. We could use thoughts on pricing as the local gas station has become increasingly popular for pizzas during the economic downturn.

Also, we could use feedback on your traditional profitable pizzeria type items such as wings, pasta, sides, etc

We also plan on pushing a soup and salad bar to attract the lunch crowd while we reformat our sandwiches. Suggestions?

Sandwich feedback is also welcomed.

A few notes. We do not, and would not consider using deep fryers. Items such as wings must be oven friendly.

Menu here ---->
and here ---->

Thank you in advance for suggestions and constructive criticism.

private reply

First thing that comes to mind is your prices are too cheap. I know I’m in California where expenses don’t get too much higher, save for New York City, but your prices have to be too cheap to make anything. You say you are only using premium ingredients but I don’t see how with those prices.

Your sandwich and pizza recipes seem to be pretty out there. Imo, you need to incorporate some more main stream tastes into your menu. Maybe you have a following for some of it but its tough to attract new business when most of your menu is not main stream. Most people like to try something more familiar to them before venturing into new territory.

Your pizza descriptions keep mentioning your special “cheese blend”. This sounds like your have some special concoction that is not real cheese. Zesty meatballs, green bell peppers, white onion over our own blend of provolone and mozzarella cheeses sounds more enticing than over our “cheese blend”. I would just be thinking “what is that”?

If you are doing pizza, I would definitely say get some sides/appetizers in there – wings, mozz sticks, garlic breadstix, knots, etc. Its come to be expected from a pizza place. You don’t want to be passed up because another place can better accommodate a group. They are easy add-ons for increased ticket averages.

In much of your post you attest that you are a “mid to high level” restaurant but your menu just does not convey that, imo. We’ve all gone to places with low expectations only later to be blown away at the quality of the food. They probably even get a kick out of the fact that they surprise people so much, but why? Your marketing, menu and look should all portray what you desire your menu to be. I can’t tell you the number of places I will go to because their look and marketing is done so well. Most of the time the food is not all that but they got me in the door to at least try it.

Great feedback. Thank you.

We are thinking of doing away with our “premium sandwiches” because our clientele will not tolerate a price increase. Should we consider a sandwich menu and a separate premium sandwich menu?

We are thinking of lowering the quality slightly and offering subs. Subway seems to be making a killing selling bread in place of meat. We could have a nice sandwich with more bread and less meat. Thoughts, suggestions?

I think following the Subway model or Pizza Hut model is a tough road to go. They have the size to negotiate low prices from their vendors and the money to do some heavy marketing. Tough to compete with. Imo, the independent’s strength is in providing better quality and service. You need to give people a reason to choose your place over Subway or Pizza Hut.

Anytime you do a “major” change to your menu you risk loosing your existing clientele. I can never see lowering quality and portions as an answer to increase sales. If your clientele cannot tolerate a price increase maybe they are not “perceiving” the difference between you and Subway??? You need to educate them as to why you are better. It seems silly when it appears to be obvious but it is necessary to spell it out for people.

You can have “premium” items on your menu like the Fat Cat as it provides interest and something to generate talk about your place. I don’t think a completely separate menu works for many reasons. Provide a reasonable portion and charge appropriately. Some places have 6" and 12" size sandwiches and some offer “double meat” as an option. Maybe that is your angle?

Charge appropriately and tell people why. You have premium ingredients, bigger portions. Do you cook or prepare your meats in some special way? Do you bake your own bread? Tell people in your menu, in store signage, in your advertising.

I really think you need to do a food cost analysis to properly figure what you should be charging. If you are not getting a proper ROI, what are you in business for?

You don’t have to have the best of ingredients and portions but you do need to differentiate yourself from the Subways and Quizno’s of the world. There are no absolute rules, and these are just my opinions, but I think most of us here come from this perspective. We want to give people a “reason” to come to our places – not just be an “option”.

I see you show Pepsi on your menu…In some areas Pepsi and/or Coke will pay an allowance if you use their logo…Not sure if this still exists but you should check it out…