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How to decide creating a single "Item" menu concept Vs larger variety ?

Le't start with this , a menu is the main element that makes or breaks a restaurant's concept !

can a restaurant concept be based on " One item " Menu ? Absolutely yes !

if we brainstorm the concepts that are based on a one item menu , we can list a Burger café , a hot dog concept , a pizza restaurant , a coffee shop , a sandwich concept which are all falling under the category of "Fast food concepts".

Moving to another type of one menu item concept but that falls under another concept's category such as : Mussels café , Sushi shop , Poke bowl café , Salad bar concept etc... and these fall under "Fast casual" category but some could also fall under "Elegant or high end casual category of restaurants as well .

concluding that Fast food and casual dining concepts could have a "Single item menu" for their concepts ! until here we should be ok !

However , the challenge starts when a new concept owner decides that his/her "One menu item" is not enough to generate enough sales / profit to cover up all their ops expenses plus some or all of their ROI and they start adding new menu items , sometimes could be a good compliment to their main menu item concept let's take an example of a "Shish taouk grill concept" that decides to add "Falafel " and some sandwiches & Salads to the menu , sounds okay right ? however , with the new additions , more purchases are needed, more mise-en-place to prepare, more storage space needed and could be more staff to be hired ! not bad as a plan to grow right ? well let's see about that , this owner calculates his new sales & Profit levels on a calculator and estimate to cover up his new expenses & cover faster his/her Mortgage ! Surprise is customers especially regular ones are coming back just to buy the main "One menu item" they are used to buy and not necessarily interested to buy the new menu items ... Is that due to lack of marketing ? Targeted customer's income levels do not support buying more? new menu items not appealing enough ? wrong pricing ? you name it but it could be a mix of all , but those working in restaurants do know well that 20% of menu items makes 80% of profits and sometimes sales , which means now the owner has higher expenses of production , high wastage levels and still same sales and profit levels ! a problem ! but this is when an owner loses focus and results could end up by closing the business at a point of time !

On the other hand side, the restaurant concepts that should have Multi menu items are the ones that goes from high end casual to fine dining concepts, where customers would like to come sit , get entertained , have a larger variety of menu items , and this type of concepts could be making more revenues from their drinks than the actual food sales or the sales and profits are a result of customer's actually buying a set of few starters, main, sides & possibly desserts ! investment is higher, staffing higher & removing or adding one or few menu items won't necessary impact as much on the repeated customers or concept positioning !

Therefore , it is important as a new business owner to decide in which direction you want to go , what concept you would like to create, how many items to have on your menu and how that impacts other stuff such as purchases, storage & staff just to name few related direct expenses !

Last but not least , a personal advise to any restaurateur , please make sure to change menu regularly and don't keep menu items on it if they are delisted, as there is nothing worse than a customer driving all the way to your place and oops you simply say sorry we don't offer that menu item any longer , we should update the menu !

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