Whether you have an existing restaurant that has been operating for years or you’re in the process of planning for a new restaurant launch, deciding when to expand the menu and with what dishes is very important. In this blog post we’re going to provide a few tips for restaurant operators that are rethinking their menus.

To start, listen to your customers and use their feedback to drive the direction of your menu. This includes analyzing sales figures to gauge which dishes sell the best, use Yelp reviews to better understand positives and negatives people have voiced, and also review conversations on social media. By taking a research-driven approach you’ll be armed with knowledge at the beginning and will ultimately be able to make more informed decisions on menu changes.

Another tip is to consider having a revolving slot on the menu that can be modified to fit seasons or current trends. A perfect example is not just offering your diners soup but instead a heavier, richer soup during the cold months then a lighter more refreshing soup in the spring and summer (think Thai tom yum soup vs a hearty chili). This way you can mix things up a little without having to totally redo your menu, and it also provides the flexibility to provide regulars with something new.

Most importantly, as long as you’ve done your homework, don’t be afraid to experiment with new specials that are off the regular menu and be open to hearing – and proactively fielding – feedback from your customers. Many restaurants offer Chef’s specials and those that stick can be transitioned into the regular menu.  Using these specials to test the waters is a great way to start.