Streamline your pub menu

Less is more: Are small but mighty pub menus the way to help ease pressure on teams and stock?


Help your teams and your bottom line by making your menus tighter but tempting. Ease the pressure on both kitchen and front of house teams by considering less menus and complex dish options. Creating a leaner menu not only helps with stock control, but delivers solid labour control too, and will also help to reduce stress for kitchen teams if there are supply issues with certain products.

How can pubs improve their food offering?

Research shows that 77%[1] of consumers are happy to visit a pub restaurant with a limited menu, with consumers now used to shorter menus following the pandemic. Tom Kerridge’s two Michelin-starred pub, The Hand & Flowers, is among venues who have reduced their menu, with just four starters and four mains now available on its a la carte set price offering.

Oakman Group is among an increasing number of pub operators taking this approach and has reduced its autumn/winter menu by nine dishes.

Craig Miles, Development Chef at Bidfood recommends:

“Keep reviewing what is selling well. It is better to have a reduced menu with great dishes that your kitchen teams can deliver successfully.”

Prioritise traditional customer favourites, perhaps using some of these as smaller portions on lunch menus too, alongside healthier options and seasonal specials.

Retain quality and what your pubs are known for

Impactful menu descriptions are key

Stand-out specials

Streamlines stocklist too

No special stock for special nights

Streamline your pub menu

Quality of food and drink is still a primary driver on where consumers will eat so streamlining your menu allows you to really focus on quality and what your pubs are known for. It is key not to steer away from that, but to embrace it and look to create menus that deliver a truly memorable experience.

Consider the presentation of your dishes carefully, as simple changes in the way dishes are displayed can help drive a perception of higher quality.

Small changes such as selecting the right tableware to showcase dishes, for example nachos or chips in metal cups, and sauces in ramekin dishes, can help improve the quality feel of a dish as well as support with portion control and driving a more premium price point.

Utilise pub menu descriptors

To help your slimmed down menu make a positive impact on diners, focus on crafting appealing menu descriptions that will make customers feel they want to order every dish, using all the buzz words consumers want to hear.

Making menu descriptions more generic, such as ‘’Soup of the Day’, ‘Fish of the Day’ or ‘Pie of the Day’ also adds a sense of dishes being freshly made and allows you the flexibility to maximise the produce you have.

Focus on value for money

With shorter menus and to help maximise the GP opportunities around seasonal and better priced produce, increasing the use of specials boards has never been so key.

Driving specials not only allows flexibility with changing ingredients – they also have a psychological influence on consumers who perceive more quality from specials.

With many customers still looking to treat themselves, use your specials boards as the home of premium dishes, particularly at weekends.

Less is more

Oakman’s Chef Director Ross Pike says: “With a smaller core menu, we are focusing on making our specials even more special, which gives the opportunity to stretch the price point at the premium end.”

Chef Director at Oakman Inns & Restaurants which currently has around 35 sites. Each inn is individual with a personality that reflects the local area it serves.

Look for opportunities to simplify

Going hand in hand with streamlining your menus is reducing your stock list and ensuring ingredients have multiple applications, such as “mother sauces” which can be used across several dishes.

Utilise products across your pub menu

A great example of this is the Gustoso multi use tomato base in our range, which has numerous applications, including as a dip, as a pizza base, with fillings for pasta dishes or soups.

Maximise your product usage

Lewis from St Austell says: “We have minimised our ingredient list and food waste as much as possible by not having single use ingredients and focusing on ingredients that are spread across the menu, but without it being too obvious.”

Lewis Allington, Head of Food at St Austell Brewery a family-owned company with around 38 managed pubs and 140 tenanted and leased pubs.

Ross Pike, Chef Director at Oakman Inns & Restaurants adds: “We don’t stock any ingredients which only have one use and the majority have three.”

Take opportunities on theme days

If your pubs offer regular nights to help drive early and mid-week trade, then instead of cooking up a group of new dishes with a range of further ingredients to create them, look to use dishes already on the main menu instead and package them up.

Ideas include a Monday night ‘Two burgers for £30’, ‘Two steaks for £40’ or a ‘Fish platter for two for £40’ after 5pm on a Wednesday.

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