How to pick the best signage for your operation

Highs and lows of menu technology

lyfe kitchen menu cred bridget clauson

When it comes to menu boards, going high-tech isn’t always the right choice. Whether it’s digital screens or old-school chalkboards, the decision goes beyond what looks cool. “[It’s] one of the first things that people are going to see when they come in, so obviously you want it to be representative of your company and your brand,” says Joe Sanders, director of marketing for 17-unit Meatheads Burgers & Fries.

Going digital

Some operators are drawn to digital signage to showcase high-resolution food photos or easily swap out a daily special. For Craig Bernstein, owner of Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen in Chicago, it was the ability to link with his POS system.

“Pricing can adjust with the click of a button,” he says. Or if the kitchen runs out of something, “we’re never more than five minutes away from making those changes.” Bernstein estimates the cost of four to five screens at $20,000 each for his two stores, along with a nominal maintenance fee for software and content hosting.

Staying tech-free

Though digital has its perks, not all operators want to go high-tech. For the oyster menu at Ironside Fish & Oyster in San Diego, designer Paul Basile crafted marquee-style signs that are essentially lightboxes with acrylic shelves to hold store-bought letters. “It’s easy to change for specials pretty quickly, and that was a lot of the reasoning around it,” Basile says.

Meatheads similarly went with a flexible, low-tech solution, using menu boards with magnetic pieces that staffers can switch out. “We’re trying to have the environment where people will unwind a little bit, so I don’t want the business of a digital board flashing around,” Sanders says. Each magnetic menu board costs about $2,000, and new magnetic pieces are ordered and sent to stores as needed.

Signs of the times

Chalkboards have made a comeback in recent years. While many choose them for ease of rewrites, Gail Taggart, president of LYFE Kitchen franchisee L3 Hospitality Group, works with an artist seasonally to have beverage menus painted on chalkboards for LYFE’s Chicago locations. Taggart opted for this less flexible aesthetic, because the menu of local beer and wine doesn’t often change, she says.

With more consumers gravitating towards “frictionless” service, LYFE also is working on a mobile-ordering app and looking into self-serve kiosks, rendering menu boards unnecessary for tech-savvy guests. But Taggart can’t see either technology prompting her to eliminate menu signage. “I want to give the guest the menu in the format they’re most comfortable with,” she says. 

This article originally appeared in Restaurant Business, FoodService Director’s sister publication. 

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
woman in the kitchen alone

The #MeToo movement has turned sexual harassment into the top labor-related regulatory issue for all employers, triggering action from three out of four companies, according to a new survey on workforce concerns.

About two-thirds (66%) of employers rank the issue among their top two employment-related legal worries, even without a change in the pertinent laws and regulations, the canvass found.

What has changed, concluded surveyor Littler Mendelson, one of the nation’s largest labor-focused legal firms, are employee expectations and the social climate.

“No company...

Managing Your Business
Starbucks college campus

Noncommercial dining centers are often filled with their own Starbucks, Burger Kings, Panera Breads and dozens of other nationally recognized brands. Branded concepts, whether corporate brands or self-operated, offer diners familiar names, menu items, and a sense of place. This translates into more money spent and more diner loyalty for foodservice operators.

However, the success of branded concepts vary greatly. There can be significantly different results depending on whether noncommercial operators decide to franchise, lease or develop their own branded concepts. There’s no one-...

Menu Development
pizza oven

Wood-fired ovens take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to pizza-cooking preference for consumers. Just fewer than half (45%) of consumers say they prefer a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven compared to other oven cooking methods. Here are the styles of ovens pizza consumers prefer most.

Wood-fired oven 45% Gas oven 13% Electric oven 11% Grilled 4% Coal oven 4% No preference 23%

Source: Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Industry News & Opinion
polystyrene takeout

New York City will immediately start phasing out foodservice operations’ use of polystyrene takeout containers after a judge ruled on Friday against an operator coalition that had sued to overturn such a regulation, Mayor Bill de Blasio said over the weekend.

Unless the measure is blocked again on appeal, the city will commence a public education campaign to smooth the way for the change to other sorts of containers. Operators will be given a six-month grace period to find alternatives before they’ll be subject to sanctions.

The measure was scheduled to take effect last...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code