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Pub Restaurant Menu Design

Hi guys,

I've been asked to design a new menu for my local pub/restaurant and have a meeting about it tomorrow. I hate going to a meeting unprepared so I started thinking about some questions I'd need to ask.

Trouble is I've never designed a menu before (or much print material for that matter) and so was wondering, what questions should I asked? What do I need to find out from them? Would you design the menu in InDesign as well?

Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks.


Senior Member
First questions that would occur to me:

Do they have an overall identity that the menu needs to fit in with?

Do they have old menus to give you an idea of what they have done (and accepted) in the past?

Usual spec questions, size, stock, colour, how many print colours, quantity?

What sort of finish will it have/how will the menu be presented? In a sip case, will it be laminated, will the finished print product be a stand alone product.

You need to get airtight copy from them, it needs to be confirmed.

Then I'd ask usual questions to gauge their personal aesthetics: Colour of their living room carpet/curtains/walls? What sort of car to they drive? (and it's colour). Favourite brands, clothing/food etc.
These random questions can be surprisingly helpful to guide some design decisions further down the road.

Then of course budget.

Hope this helps a bit.


Active Member
If you watch Gordon Ramsey, (like i do) his revised / revamped menus are very very clean, simple and elegant, and contain no meal/food photography, reasons for this is simple, to do food photography any justice you will pay a small fortune!!!! to the service provider.

For most people going to a restaurant the food is sold in its description, feed the mind to hunger the belly.
Thanks for the reply Sunburn. Yes, I intend to keep the design very very simple - hopefully this will be what the client wants too.

I was just wondering with print jobs whether there were specific questions you should ask that might not be obvious..?


Active Member
Perhaps take along some print samples (If you have any) of different finishes like matt, gloss, etc and some different weight stock samples, if it's matching to an existing menu then it won't be too hard, but if they have 'a new idea' then you may want some props to guide them in the right direction.

As Ken said in his reply above find out how they want the finished product to be, and get the copy confirmed early on, as designing menus can be a real pain when the client changes the copy!

Good luck,

PS- Yes, definitely InDesign :)
One thing with menus and similar items, is that they will need to change. How often will they be changing, will you be expected to supply new artwork each time, how will they be supplying the content?

Think about a cost for design, then an additional cost for artwork. Subsequent menus can then be charged at the artwork rate as they should only require updating and redesigning - unless they want them redesigned each time?


Active Member
He's a trap not to fall into......
will the menu content be supplied as Word Doc.
You'll surprised at how many designers end up typing the whol bloody thing in from scratch - andthen getting hit with a typo
One of the very first jobs I had 4 or 5 years ago was doing a menu.

I got given the old menu with the new prices stuck on. I had to type out the whole thing, and it was a complete pain in the arse!

Don't recall there being any typos but it's just not worth the hassle.


Active Member
charles said:
typing a menu... hassle...? why its like four pages at the most?
Guess it depends on the cuisine, could have dish titles in another language, then you're up against all kinds of accents and potential spelling mistakes!


I remember going to a restaurant once in France with 30 something pages in the menu :lol:

and been to a restaurant here in London where there is only 1 page for the menu.. was a posh restaurant too.. cost me £300 all up for 2 of us :eek:


Active Member
We did a menu years ago that had 24 pages in! It was a large Italian designer restuarant that did 'fusion' food it held about 250? It had pages on Prawn dishes, Chicken dishes, Fish, Shellfish, Every option and variation in the world in essence it ws the same dishes with different ingredients and a diff price. But it made good reading while you waited 30 minutes in the large 'holding bar area" Food was crap but it was about the place not the food. Oh and we had to type the last menu was done by a printer that no body knows of. Wish i knew that before i quoted the job!
charles said:
typing a menu... hassle...? why its like four pages at the most?
It was for an Italian restaurant, who at the time had far too many dishes to choose from, some with multiple prices, and all the drinks, deserts and snack menus were in the same file.

The most annoying bit was making sure that you got the prices correct, as it was provided with the stickers for the new prices. But not all the products had changed price. So there was always the chance that a sticker had fallen off, and you wouldnt notice straighyt away.


Senior Member
I'd say be conscious of how much detail they have to go into the menu, vs cost, if they have lots of detail then it is going to be harder to get something with any style if they have tonnes of info and are insisting on an A5 4 pager, then good luck!

There are some amazing and functional menus out there, but then there are some cool looking ones out there too! The scream pubs have awesome looking menus that suit the character of their business.

I think that would be my biggest concern, details, style, size.
Not to worry, this project isn't going to happen.

Just got back from the meeting and they want 3 menus and business cards for £50. This is a whole new thread / discussion in itself. Thats the first time I've had that situation in a meeting...not nice.

And Typo - I live kind of near Salisbury, but I think I've heared of Woodford Valley. I live in between Downton and Fordingbridge if you know where those are?


Active Member
Why didn't they say that on the phone before you went up. What a waste of time.
I always try and get an idea of money before I spend too much effort, If its price led decision best to Know from the start and you cut the cloth accordingly. Sorry M8