In the “old days”, fast food restaurants didn’t do much more than hang simple chalkboards on the wall with the day’s list of menu items they cooked up based on their niche; they’d be satisfied with doing a basic job, and dining guests would be happy they didn’t have to cook dinner.
We restaurant guests want to have an EXPERIENCE when we eat at your place! We want interaction, we want color, and we want to be entertained by your menu board. With dining tastes becoming more eclectic, restaurants have to be on their toes to change out menus to fit a breakfast crowd, update quickly to the lunch menu and then expand to the dinner menu. Diners want it fast, and they want it delicious. And with the government getting involved by mandating menu labeling (calories and such) posted on the menu boards too – how is a poor restauranteur to keep up?
Gone are the days of the checkered tablecloths, waitresses snapping their gum while writing down your order and the lunch counter barstools. We want clean and uncluttered dining areas, pleasant and attentive counter servers, easy to read menu boards and digital or electronic toys to entertain us while we wait for our food. We want to be emotionally involved with your restaurant. We want the DINING EXPERIENCE!
Today’s restaurant owners have a lot of decisions to make starting with planning their concept all the way through to staffing for opening day and beyond. It requires market research to take that “light bulb” idea and determine how best to deliver the “feel” to accomplish the restaurant goals. Chain restaurants tap specialized designers to convey the idealized dining experience based on goals set by corporate researchers.
Good designers include the senses when creating the experience: sight (colors and atmosphere), sound (music appealing to the crowd demographic), smell (think: fresh baked bread!), touch (textures, comfort) – all blend together to create the emotional connection that brings your dining guests back for more.
When do I decide on my menu board?
The best time to make menu board decisions is at the beginning as you work with your designer or look at your business plan. The board should reflect your restaurant personality and the customer experience you wish to convey to your guests. With so many options out there – digital, static front lit or illuminated – you have lots of menu board selections to choose from. There is no “one size fits all” design; a good menu board company will show you several choices based on your planned décor and menu listings.
Start the conversation early: determine what your goals are, then what your content (menu listings) will be to achieve those goals, and finally how you want to deliver that content. It takes time and many revisions before you answer the question of how your dining experience will look at the end of the journey. But it will be so worth it!