Restaurants these days are upping their game when it comes to interiors—from sweet and chic to laid-back and industrial. But beyond such frills, a restaurant’s menu still remains as its lifeblood. It’s what drives customers to walk into that door, and it determines how much profit the place can earn in a day. A restaurant’s food, in turn, decides its success, that’s why putting together all possible dishes in one menu requires careful planning.

While such task may seem trivial, coming up with a menu that works is actually a form of science on its own: the kitchen crew should be able to pull off every item added to the list. It should also be cost-effective and marketable. In other words, coming up with the perfect combination of dishes is no walk in the park, so take cues from these restaurateurs and learn how to create a profitable restaurant menu.

Understand your clientele

It all starts with understanding what your target market wants. “The phrase ‘Know your market’ has been used, rinsed, repeated, and repeated again and again—for good reason,” says chef Noel Mauricio of the Tasteless Restaurant Group. It’s important to anticipate what guests will be looking for as soon as they enter the restaurant. “The general market usually goes out to eat with an idea of what they will want to order. Then again, there are diners who actively go out to try new things. This type of diners usually frequent chef-driven concepts,” adds chef Noel. Taking time to know your market’s needs and habits, including how much they’re willing to spend on a good meal, allows you to adapt accordingly.

Keep it concise

It only takes a few seconds to grab the attention of a potential customer. This is especially true for menus posted on social media or through online-booking applications. “I would have appetizers or bar chow as the longest, and a good balance of everything else,” shares chef Gino Gonzalez of Café Ysabel.

Proper descriptions for every dish should also be included, and these have to be straight to the point. Avoid a lengthy menu that can result to guests taking more time to decide on an order while the staff waits on a table for too long.

Determine “star dishes”

These menu items are the main revenue drivers of the business—they define what the restaurant is known for. “Star dishes not only bring in revenue but also give identity to the establishment. These dishes get diners’ feet in the door,” explains chef Noel. Other items on the menu should support these star products, helping create a proper experience and bringing in additional income.

Dishes with mass appeal also play an important role. “For example, offering chicken dishes will be sale-able because statistics show that Filipinos eat chicken the most as compared with other proteins,” relates chef Gino.

Keep it well-balanced

“There should be a balance of all dishes—seafood, pork, beef, poultry, and even vegetarian—on the menu,” reminds chef Niño Laus of Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli and Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen. Consider that every customer has their own preference and dietary restrictions.

Balance should also come in flavors and textures. The menu should provide options for all four major tastes (sweet, bitter, sour, and salty), as well as a variety of textures (ranging from tender to crispy and smooth to crunchy).

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Ilokano is one of the hardest languages to speak, but if you need to know just one word, it should be DINARDARAAN. A combo of three Ilokano favorites in one dish – pork bagnet, pakbet salsa, dinardaraan sauce. Naimas to!!! ?? #alamatph #kwentoatamats

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Consider the design

A major consideration when creating a restaurant menu is its design. Choose the right colors, fonts, and layout that allow you to highlight the proper items. Everything has to be easy on the eyes. Photos should also be appetizing but realistic. Innovations, such as using tabletop tablets to order, can also add to your restaurant’s overall appeal.

Be original

With competition among restaurants becoming more and more challenging, it’s important to stand out through innovation. When potential diners search for your menu on social media, for instance, your offerings have to be immediately enticing. “Originality goes a long way in this industry where you tend to see the same kind of dish across several menus,” chef Niño relates.

When it comes to food, quality trumps quantity, so it’s a must to come up with original concepts that will keep guests coming back. “Remember that being profitable is not always how much you make per day, but how long you will last,” he adds.

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Now that January is almost over, where are you on your new year’s resolution? If you’re craving adventure and variety in 2019, you’ll love our Mollusco, which is bursting with the different flavors of smoked mussels, grilled angel wing clams, sea urchin emulsion, and scallops. #agimat #agimatbar #drinkthewild #tastethewild

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To know more about how technology can help you run a successful restaurant, check out Globe myBusiness Academy and Globe Business.

Many top establishments in Poblacion played a key part in the food crawl as pit stops for the participants, who were looking forward to discover the food haven’s best offers. Among the partner bars and restaurants were ABKD, Ñ, Wild Poppy, Alamat, Z Hostel, and Yalla Yalla.

During Let’s Food Crawl Pare’s culmination, Globe myBusiness spoke with the owners of its partner establishments to hear what their business secrets are and what advice they had for aspiring restaurant or bar owners dreaming of success.

Check out these master tips and discover the path to success in the food business:


Create and provide the whole experience 

You may think that ABKD and Ñ are merely two establishments that happened to find their place on top of each other, but the two concepts were actually designed that way to provide a fully stacked experience for its guests.

ABKD, a relaxed back-to-basics restaurant, and Ñ, a modern Filipino-inspired bar, were the brainchildren of none other than Chef Lica Ibarra, a renowned chef and serial restaurateur. She says the two establishments may look different, but they are connected.

“After our guests are done with their meal at ABKD, they can go up and have a completely different feel at Ñ. There is a synergy between the two. After you eat, if you still want to have some fun and grab a few drinks, you go up,” Chef Lica explains.

According to Chef Lica, giving their guests the whole experience was the ultimate goal of ABKD and Ñ. She says it plays an important role in keeping customers, who will in turn talk about their unique offers and invite prospect guests to their business.

“Our goal really is make our guests feel like they are home. We always welcome our guests like they are really visitors coming to our home. That’s the ambiance we want. Besides our food, we want to give them the whole experience,” she says.


Know your market and fill its need

Eat your fill of Southeast Asian dishes at the comfort of a garden-inspired restobar in Wild Poppy’s humble abode in Poblacion. One of its co-owners Kaity Chua says Wild Poppy was designed as the place-to-be for those looking for a relaxed oasis at the end of a busy day.

Although Wild Poppy is known for its home-like vibe, the dishes and cocktails it serves let off wild Southeast Asian flavours, creating a perfect balance of sugar and spice for both the easygoing and thrill-seeking markets.

“The customer experience that we really want to give is a wild and interesting one. We want them to have a really good time. That’s one of the reasons we are located in Poblacion. We like the relaxed vibe of the neighborhood: you don’t have to dress up, wear heels, and you can just be yourself and have a good time,” Kaity shares.

She adds: “About the food, we really like wild flavors and we feel that Southeast Asian flavors are one of those. It is different, it has variety and there’s a spice to it.  We also translated that to our cocktails, which complement our dishes [very well].”


Find the right location for your business

No matter what your business is, location is important to keep the mill running. That’s the principle that Z Hostel kept in sight as it now becomes one of the most popular destinations for people who want to experience what Poblacion has to offer.

“A lot of establishments are opening here in Poblacion because it’s a lot cheaper to open here compared to other areas. It is also very accessible. The value proposition here is that you can walk from one place to another, unlike others where you have to drive. There are so many restaurants around just one spot,” Rommel Marasigan, Z Hostel President, said.

Z Hostel stands in the heart of Poblacion, surrounded by different restaurants and bars that sport different concepts and cuisines. Rommel says that while competition may be stiff in a tightly packed playing field like Poblacion, there’s a sense of family between establishments in the area. This makes it a fitting place for startups and first time restaurateurs to grow.

“Here, we have a so-called “coopetition,” where everyone is cooperating while competing. There are so many concepts and very few are the same; not everyone is competing directly. It’s a healthy relationship. All the owners are friends and we have this bayanihan concept,” Rommel adds.


Establish an online presence to enhance growth

In the age of social media, being online is a necessity. On the Internet, businesses are able to reach different markets, no matter where they are around the globe. This is what Yalla Yalla capitalized on as a restaurant that offers unique Middle Eastern cuisine.

According to Ricky Punzalan, owner of Yalla Yalla, one of the reasons they put up the restaurant is to introduce Lebanese cuisine to a bigger market. He says being present online helps them reach customers and capture new markets through reviews and recommendations.

He says their special Lebanese offers are making waves through online channels, helping their brand become more prolific. They likewise help in growing their customer base, who are largely influenced by what’s hip and new on social media platforms.

“We want our customers to be able to try Lebanese food, and social media helps us a lot in spreading the word. On Facebook, you get to connect with people in the demographic you want. There, when you recommend a place to eat, people who know them will know about it. It helps us in that way,” Ricky says.


Give more love to the Filipino culture

On top of being one of the most hospitable nationalities in the world, Filipinos have one of the most profound and exciting cuisines. This is what Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli is demonstrating as it packs reinvented local dishes and drinks with its homey restaurant in Poblacion.

Cassandra Laus, co-owner of Alamat, says that the concept behind the restaurant was rooted from their team’s drive to show people the value of loving their own culture. Besides putting its own twist to well-known Filipino dishes, Alamat also offers original local craft beer, which was sourced from different regions of the Philippines.

“We want to show how cool the Filipino culture is and how awesome our ingredients are. It’s not being highlighted enough, which is why we put up a bar that centers on our culture. We offer a fun way to know the Filipino culture and the people behind it,” Cassandra says.

“We want to inspire our fellow Filipinos to love our own more. Hopefully, if they are to put up their own bars or their own concepts, they adopt a local inspiration,” she adds.


Starting up your own restaurant or bar takes a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance. With these masterful tips, you already have a headstart on planning, designing, and building your dream business and racing to your success!

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