A menu matrix is a way of comparing each restaurant menu item with every other restaurant menu item.
Alliston, Ontario, is a town of about 15,000 people just north of Toronto. Sandra Lambie is the general manager of C.W. Coops, a bar and restaurant in Alliston, which is one of several restaurants by the same name. And while not exactly a chain, they all have the same logo and generally the same foods. When we started working with Sandra, I wondered out loud if it would make sense for us to work on all of the menus at one time, but Sandra said no without explanation, so we concentrated exclusively on the Alliston restaurant.
The first step in creating a new restaurant menu, or even just updating a restaurant menu in an established restaurant, is to develop a menu matrix. We did just that for C.W. Coops and uncovered a lot of great information that helped us decide which items to change or cut, which items to highlight and which items could take a price increase.
A menu matrix is a way of comparing each menu item with every other menu item, based on its ability to generate income and its popularity. In other words, products on a menu are compared by how many people order them and how much money each item can take to the bank. What the matrix is concerned with is plate contribution rather than food cost percentages, because a product can have a low cost percentage and still not generate enough income to make the product worthwhile.
To develop a menu matrix you need three pieces of information: Theoretic food costs for each item, sales velocity for each item sold and the selling price. In the case of C.W. Coops, Sandra only provided category totals along with a few specific menu items, so the matrix only compared wings, burgers, steaks, chicken, steak on a bun, sandwiches, salads, wraps, chicken fingers, cheese bread and desserts.