The Difference Between A Cookie Cutter And A Restaurant Menu

I swear, I really don’t think many restaurant operators know the difference. If they did, they wouldn’t have the same menu as everybody else. A well-designed restaurant menu is more than just a double dip in the glitz bucket. Your menu needs to be an extension of your brand, and the only way to make that happen is to have it professionally design engineered specifically for your restaurant brand.

Our process starts with a Restaurant Menu Matrix, then we build your menu with perfect product positioning, restaurant menu highlighting, restaurant menu anchoring and strategic product pricing that balances your need to be profitable with price points hat won’t send your customers into a tizzy.

We couple our scientific menu engineering with some of the best design and writing in the business. Design and writing developed just for you. So instead of picking your menu out of a catalog, you’re getting actually designers and writers working on your business. So rather than a cookie cutter, you’re getting a hand carved, made from scratch menu.

When you’re ready to get out of your cookie cutter menu, call HotOperator at 800-316-3198 or contact the menu design-engineering experts through their website here.

8 Things You Maybe Don’t Know About Restaurant Brand Marketing

MachoNachoLogo1 MachoNachoLogo8MachoNachoLogo3MachoNachoLogo6MachoNachoLogo5MachoNachoLogo4


1 – A properly developed restaurant brand can and should last indefinitely, so making a brand mistake can cost you huge headaches as well as untold millions in lost revenue over time. Make sure everything you do with your restaurant brand enhances its brand position in the markets you serve.


2 – A Great Restaurant Brand is true to itself. Make sure your restaurant brand is never asked to work out of its character or you will suffer consequences.


3 – A Great Restaurant Brand Invents or Reinvents A Category. Mc Donald’s invented fast food. Panera reinvented fast casual. Applebee’s reinvented the neighborhood bar. What has your brand invented or reinvented (and it’s OK to make that stuff up, too)?


4 – A Great Restaurant Brand Is Emotional. It’s like any other purchase, when people feel a strong emotional connection to a brand, they are much more likely to make that purchase again and again. And the emotions need to be positive (anyone can piss of a customer, which doesn’t help your brand).


5 – A Great Restaurant Brand Has A Fantastic Story. A restaurant brand can evolve, meet new challenges and even introduce new products that might otherwise seem to be out of character, with the right story to back it up.


6 – A Great Restaurant Brand is Consistent. That means the visuals, the coy, the photography, the social experience all need to share the same voice, with the same personality, forever.


7 – A Great Restaurant Brand is Relevant. A great brand personality will reflect and be relevant to the audience it is trying to communicate with. This is essential to the success of the brand over time. If your restaurant is known for polka and sauerkraut, giving it the voice of a punk rocker from Liverpool will not make sense to anyone you’re trying to sell to (and polka is really fun, especially with the right partner).


8 – A Great Restaurant Brand Creates A Point Of Difference. Your unique selling proposition is essential to your brand and how your guests perceive your business. Having real, tangible reasons to purchase a burger from you rather than someone else can make or break your restaurant.

5 Reasons Why None Of Your Wait Staff Make Good Menu Designers


Webber's Before Menu

Webber's Before Menu


Webber's After Menu

Webber's After Men


1 – Saving Money Just To Loose More. You think you’re saving money by having someone on your wait staff work on your menu, but you’re actually costing yourself thousands of dollars in lost revenue because they are not menu engineers with experience in helping you create a great menu that will enhance your brand and grow your business (if they were, they would be doing that for a living instead of slinging hash).


2 – A Few Years of Schooling in Computers Does Not Make You a Designer. In fact, it takes years of work experience working with restaurant menu design engineering to master the process. But you already know this, because you don’t just take a buss person and put them on your cooking line. And it’s the same with your restaurant menu, which is just as important (and statistically more important than) your food.


3 – Better Writing, Better Experience. Writing A Restaurant Menu is as much a skill as designing a Restaurant Menu. Food product descriptions need to entice, convince and inspire. Not an easy task, and not to be hacked together by just anyone.


4 – First Impressions. Your restaurant menu is the first line of communication for your restaurant brand. You can never the chance for a great first impression back. This first impression can have a huge impact on how your guests perceive your food; it’s taste and their likeliness to return. Taking a chance on a part time person with that much power is dangerous to your business.


5 – Finding Hidden Money. A menu is a very specialized catalog that can be the pivot point in your restaurant marketing. It’s easy to think that anyone can make a product list, and that’s true. It doesn’t take much experience to put a bunch of products into a list. But if you are smart, you’ll want a menu that is designed to build your restaurant and enhance your brand.


When you’re ready to elevate your brand, give HotOperator a call. The menu design and engineering experts at HotOperator can build you a better, more product menu that will help you make more profits day in and day out. Call 1-800-316-3198 or contact them through the HotOperator website here.

Why Restaurant Buzz Is Important And How To Get It

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 11.41.52 AM

Two people are talking on the phone and one says to the other: “Hey, let’s meet for lunch.”

The other person says: “OK, where do you want to go?”

The answer to this question has as much to do about your immediate buzz as it does about what they are hungry for minus what they had to eat a few days before (the fact is no matter how much buzz you have, if you specialize in burgers or pizza and they just had that a day or two ago, it is unlikely they will settle on a pizza or burger place).

But everything else being equal, you’re more likely to attract a crowd if you are enjoying a high level of buzz. And buzz goes up when your marketing is coordinated.

It also has a lot to do with the types of offers you promote. Olive Garden does well on the Buzz-O-Meter but they also do well with their restaurant promotions. In fact their restaurant social media is not drilled down to the local level well at all (which leaves a great deal of opportunity open to them). But they do offer a lot of food for the money. Unlimited pasta promotions, endless breadsticks and salad, specials and money savings that keep people talking.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 11.37.46 AMHotOperator has been coordinating restaurant social media and restaurant classic marketing for many years.

In that time it has been my experience that most restaurant operators do not know how important their restaurant marketing is, nor how powerful it can be if it is well orchestrated. Instead of having a concentrated, long-term effort, most restaurant operators waste way too much time working on short-term projects that are not executed well and never get the time they need to be effective.

Then every so often a emerging chain restaurant or a high volume independent restaurant operator will call me and tell me that they are looking for a plan that will help them get their brand and business to the next level. They want to create buzz for their concept and they want to know what it will take to build a better marketing plan over time. And that’s when real marketing magic can happen.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 11.39.15 AMIf you’re ready to try something more coordinated and planned for your emerging brand, reach out to HotOperator. With over 30 years of marketing experience, we can help you grow your business and get you some maximum buzz. If not we'll say a little prayer for you.

Call 800-316-3198 X301 Now!

We can help you take your brand to the next level and offer restaurant marketing advice that's based on 30 years of experience with some of the most respected names in the food service industry.

Is Your Restaurant Brand Famous?

Selling Famous Food.


You want to sell food. But not just any food, you want to sell selective items from your menu over and over again. You may not know that, or even agree, but believe me you really do want to sell specific foods. To sell a lot of very specific foods, you and your food will need to be famous. And to become famous, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. If you look at successful people, successful cars and successful restaurant businesses, you will notice that the ones that are top-of-mind are all famous.


Here are some examples: Coca-Cola is famous. Hiltons (both Hilton hotels and Paris) are famous. McDonald’s restaurants are famous. Ford is also famous. Harley and Davidson together are famous. They are all legendary. People tell stories about them, secretly admire them and, best of all, they visit them and buy from them.


I guarantee you, if you’re reading this, you would love to have their business. Even a fraction of their business would make your business explode. And all of these companies have elevated and separated their brand from yours and everyone else’s. They have elevated their thinking and approach to their particular field in ways that attract people, drawing them in and making them want more.


At the center of each of these companies is a very well thought-out and highly creative communications strategy.


And at the center of that strategy is creative from designers, writers, illustrators, photographers and the like all working to bring the brand to life. They breathe imagination into a brand that was once just an idea in someone’s mind. They take a simple idea and add dimension to it. And they can, if they are skilled, help a person make a favorable decision about the products and services these creative products represent.


If you are going to grow your restaurant business into a chain, or into a dominant player in a market, you will need a marketing partner that has the resources to help take you to the next level and beyond.


HotOperator specializes in growing brands from the ground up.


Call us for a free consultation at 800-316-3198 X301.

Restaurant Coupons And Offers A Necessary Evil

Let’s face it, nobody wants to give anything away, and you’re in business to sell food at full price as often as you can. But, sometimes your customers need a little encouragement to get them in the door more often. Plus, when you have a guest who has not dines with you in some time, or perhaps they have never dined with you, you may need to offer a little something, something to get them in the door the first time!


Why McDonald’s Recent Business Decline Is Not About The Food

According to Nations Restaurant News, McDonald’s Corp. executives said [this past] Wednesday they will cut eight items from its menu in January as part of a broader effort to overhaul its service model to meet the needs of different type of customers. The article goes on to describe the radical marketing approach they are going to take to try to reverse the downward spiral they find their business in.

If it were only that simple. What plagues McDonald's is less about the food and more about their public image. They have been the poster child for what's wrong with American business in the past few years. Images of low paid workers picketing and documentaries pointing to how the corporate executives make so much more money than their workers, it may take more than just a product change to make a difference in their business.

It's like a perfect storm pitted against them. Couple the wage issues with the addition of calories on the menu, add that to a recovering economy with low gas prices and suddenly everything that made Mc Donald's the kings of the recession seem to be pulling the business apart at the seams.