Menus should be shorter

Nearly 95% of restaurants have menus that are too long. There are three problems with big menus:

1. Quantity hurts quality - the more dishes the restaurant will cook, the less likely the restaurant is good at cooking any of them.

2. In general people feel twice as much pain when losing something as they do joy at making a positive choice. Thus when more options are presented, the diner will feel more pain for all the items he didn't choose to eat. This increases the chances the diner won't enjoy his/her meal.

3. In general (by my own experience) people make selections based on the choices in front of them - obviously people pick a type of restaurant like Mexican or Chinese, but rarely fixate on a specific menu item. In fact, if the menu is shorter the odds of creating a memorable dish (and repeat customers) increases.When was the last time you remembered an item you picked from a menu of more than 40 items?

Putting more items on the menu may be an attempt to cast the net as wide as possible. But it's not a good idea; it increases diner anxiety and decreases the chances of making a memorable dish. In N Out has thrived with exactly three menu options: Hamburger, Cheeseburger, and Double-Double. Momofuku Ko opened with a focus on just one idea and one dish, making the best noodles in New York City.

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One thought on “Menus should be shorter

  1. Nicholas Tapia

    Really? 95%?

    How long is a menu that’s too long?

    As to number 1, a large number of dishes does not always signify a lack of quality. Many restaurants use a base (chicken) and then create 10 menu options with garnishes/sauces. There are many reasons behind this. One is to accommodate tastes. These people who need to be accommodated are also known as picky eaters. However, this large number of choices does not signify a lack of quality of the chicken nor the accompanying garnishes/sauces.

    If you’re trying to be less picky and remove 2 and 3, don’t open the menu. Ask to be brought whatever is recommend or what the chief would like to cook.


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