With our growing obsession of food culture, and an estimate of 16 million restaurants worldwide, there is one neglected element that has been right in front of us all this time: the menu. When it comes to profits, the menu is not only important; it is everything in a successful restaurant brand identity. Research has found that a customer only takes an average of 109 seconds reading a menu. This is the time limit one has to impress and sell. This essay will outline different ways and means on how the graphic designer under-take different methods to turn the menu into a sales tool for the restaurant and will discuss menu design techniques to help boost the effectiveness of the ‘silent salesperson’ onto customers and increase profits (Pavesic, 2013).
Many give credit to Paris as to being the birthplace of the restaurant, but many characteristics that define a restaurant were already found in China during the song dynasty. Although the contemporary menu first appeared in France in the eighteenth century, it does not mean that it was the first time we ever saw a menu. The very first menus appeared in the first millennium during the Chinese Song Dynasty back In the 1200s (Heimann, Heller and Mariani, 2011). The Chinese used to offer hundreds different types of foods for their customers, and considering they were the first to invent paper, the Chinese used to find it much easier to scribble them all down. As more menus emerged, the first modern menu appeared in the latter part of the eighteenth century after the French revolution. After dining, menus were commonly taken as a souvenir; reason for this is to either have evidence of the luxurious spots one dined in, or just to keep it as a historical document. The eighteenth century menus were so beautifully produced that they were considered as precious art pieces. They were also described as “must-steal” items and many people used to collect various types of menus. Menu collectors have proved that these collections are worth unexpectedly a large amount of money when bought and sold. A prime example of this would be a menu from the tragic voyage of the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic. This menu was found affixed to the reverse of a painting from the famous ship, and was worth hundreds of thousands of dollars (Taber, G. 2011).
In some countries where paper was expensive or rare, items would usually be written down on a chalkboard or mirror. These methods are still being used today to write down daily specials or in some rare cases – the whole menu. As time went by, many art movements shaped and influenced the restaurant menu and design differently. Case in point is the American menu during the WWII, when designers used to promote U.S war bonds using patriotic graphics alongside the food list. As restaurants increased during the years, eating out was becoming more popular and common. This resulted in the menu continuing to evolve and becoming an essential tool, form of art and commercial item one should...