What do you think about when you think about your favorite restaurant? Perhaps your favorite server comes to mind. Or maybe the establishment’s welcoming atmosphere. It could be the famous house salad dressing that makes your mouth water when you think about it. Or maybe you remember the time that you spent your birthday there: You got a free birthday cake, a round of happy singers, and a yummy dinner to boot!
Whatever it is chances are the restaurant’s menu probably didn’t come to mind. But for the restaurant professional, there may be no better marketing tool than a nicely designed menu and menu cover. It supports the flavor of the restaurant – yes, pun intended – as well as its bottom line. Fortunately, the latest menu covers can do much to help a restaurant’s sales along, all while keeping the store’s brand intact.
The following menu covers are some of the latest menu cover styles on the market. You’ll likely be pleased at all the modern menu covers on the market today.
1. The Flip/ Show-Off Menu Holders
You’ve probably seen this style in casual dining establishments like Chili’s or Shari’s. The style typically features plastic menu sheets with holes at the top. This table top menu holder stays on the tables as opposed to the menus that your server hands to you when you sit down. (These menus represent a more long-term list of items that your restaurant serves.)
The pages of these menu covers are made from a sturdy plastic and are attached to a holder that has a base at the bottom and then a support of some kind in the middle. That support is what you attach the loose pages to, sort of like a three-ring binder clip attached to a post.
These types of menu covers work well if your restaurant often runs different specials, and therefore, you’d need to change out the menu often. Use these to introduce food specials for holidays like Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving, to highlight a house-favorite bar drink, or to get people to come to happy hour. Once the special is over, just pull the sheet from the holder and replace it with an updated flip cover filled with information about your current special.
2. Leather/ Imitation Leather
Leather as a material sends a certain message, one of class and traditions. Many fine dining establishments have menu covers that either are made of leather or of imitation leather. This type of menu cover would likely be seen in a dinner-only restaurant, fine-dining Italian or French, or some other restaurant of this nature. Imitation leather is often used when a restauranteur chooses a restaurant menu books style as a menu cover.
There are advantages to using imitation leather as opposed to real leather. Real leather is expensive. It is also difficult to keep clean. Imitation leather runs cheaper. It can also be wiped off several times over the course of a shift. Further, it can be cleaned with spray cleaners to keep fingerprints from showing up over the course of time.
3. Board Menus Covers
Now, these types of menu covers are cool. There’s no better way to describe them, and there are few better ways to give your menu an air of sophistication than this. This type of menu cover consists of a single board, usually with bands around the top and the bottom. The actually menu sheet is cut to fit the board and slide between the two bands to keep it in place.
For restaurants that changes their specials daily, menu covers like these represent the ideal. The “old” menu containing today’s special gets tossed at the end of the day. The new menu, featuring the next day’s special, gets tucked into the bands at the start of a new shift.
If you implement these menu covers, try to look for materials that complement your restaurant’s style. Common materials include wood, metal, or bamboo.
4. Pocket Menus
These menu covers count among the most common types of menu covers and could be called the workhorse menu cover. This style usually has anywhere from two to four or more empty plastic sheets that are bound together. The actual menu then get inserted into each page, which is see-through on both sides. The plastic on these tend to be very pliable and yet very sturdy. It’s difficult to rip, allowing the menus to survive difficult rush periods during the day.
Menu cover styles such as these work very well for high-volume restaurants. A restaurant’s menus in general take quite a beating throughout the day. This is doubly true for high-volume establishments. In this case, you can’t go wrong with clear menu sleeves.
5. Bistro Menu Covers
Bistros typically have long menus that feature just a few items. This style gives a nod to the fact that bistros often have limited seating and kitchen space. Smaller menus with two or three pages, often with accordion folds are often what sit of a bistro’s table.
These styles flatter the dining room area that has small, metal chairs and two-top tables. They often come in deep, rich fall colors such as burgundy, brown, or forest green. The interior corners of the menus have tabs. The daily menu cards get slid into these corner tabs, and replaced as needed. This is the restaurant menu folder style of cover. It lends an air of class and tradition to your bistro’s tables.
6. Top-Clip Menus
These count as a variation of the board menu covers. Like the board menu covers, this style has only a single board on which a daily or weekly menu card is placed. The difference lies chiefly in the fastener. Whereas the menu board style has bands on the top and the bottom to keep the menu card in place, this style has a clip at the top like your standard clipboard.
Some top-clip styles run long and narrow like a bistro’s menu while others are made to hold a standard 8 1/2-inch by 11-inch menu sheet. In the latter case, less special cutting is required of the actual menu card, saving you both time and money.
Final Thoughts on The Latest Menu Cover Trends
Menu covers do more than just protect your menus from fingerprints, spilled soda and wine, or today’s lunch special. These covers help you promote your restaurant’s brand and count as an effective sales tool.
Be sure to ask your waitstaff to use their menus as the sales tools that they are. This doesn’t have to be difficult. For example, if you have a table top menu holder on the table that features your current drink or dessert special, ask your servers to mention it. In this way, your menus can help your servers and bartenders in their upsells and their suggestive-selling efforts.
Additionally, you want to carefully consider the overall design of your restaurant as you go about picking your menus covers. While a great many modern menu covers exist – think metal board menus in an industrial space – some styles just may not fit your restaurant. If you run a roadside diner, you’re better off choosing a menu cover that features clear menu sleeves that can handle the high volume of customers you get each day.