Menu Management Mastery: Streamlining the Restaurant Experience

restaurant menu managemen

Every restaurant business knows that the menu is a primary and fundamental touchpoint with their customers. The menu represents who you exactly are and what experience your clients can expect from you. In addition to marketing communications, the menu must comply with legal requirements and labeling standards, which may vary from location to location. All this makes planning and updating the menu a laborious task that requires a lot of accuracy, effort, and time.

Our client – the US marketing communication agency with a high focus on printing, direct marketing, and retail visuals had a deep understanding of this problem. They came up with the idea to create a product that would help minimize manual labor, collect the necessary functionality in one place, and automate menu assembly for various requirements.

The Challenge

Large restaurant chains, private or franchised, include restaurants based in various locations, often remote from each other. They are united by a common branding, communication strategy, and a set of main dishes. However geographical distribution inevitably leads to certain differences for each location. Among these differences:

  • Availability or lack of certain products;
  • Presence or absence of seasonal offers;
  • Pricing policy (may differ depending on the market of different regions or for special locations. For example, airport restaurants tend to have higher prices than restaurants of the same chain in the city).
  • Legal requirements (different states and countries have different requirements for labeling and additional information on the menu)
  • Differences in the names of the same dishes for different locations.

Did you know? Classic breakfast pancakes have different names across the US states. People in Michigan use the old term from Shakespeare’s times – “Flapjacks”. ‘Griddle cakes” or “hotcakes” are widely used in the south and “Johnnycake” is what pancakes are often called in Carolina and some parts of New England.

Thus, the menu for each restaurant should be developed according to general branding guidelines, but take into account all the requirements of the location of each particular point.

In manual mode, such a task takes a large amount of time and effort. Various employees of the company who may lack information are involved in the process. The risk of human error increases. Obtaining confirmations, arranging work with print contractors, and making constant revisions slow down the process significantly. Files get lost in emails and shared drives. The need to provide an updated menu may arise before you have completed production of a previous version.

The Solution

First Line Software was selected by the client as a contractor to develop a system that could automate the menu collection process. At its peak, 13 First Line Software specialists worked on the product. The solution presented by our team allows us to:

  • Bring together a common set of data;
  • Arrange attributes for each item – private or general availability, price levels, translation into other languages, labeling requirements, etc;
  • Calculate the minimum set of unique menu versions in one click;
  • Compile each version into a ready-to-print PDF file;
  • Order printing from an external contractor of your choice with distribution to restaurant outlets directly from the application.

During the presentation of the first system version for the customers, the speaker assembled a set of unique menus in front of the audience in 15 minutes. She turned to the listeners and asked – how long would it take you before? The answer was – a few days for each person.

Technological solution

The solution is built on the integration of a number of external tools with each other.

The system is based on a cloud-based e-commerce solution – OrderCloud, integrated with the ERP system with a focus on the printing industry  – EFI Pace.

The built-in DesignMerge plugin allows the system to assemble the generated data into print-ready PDFs.

Integration with tax services allows to calculation of taxes for various states directly from the application.

Integration with mail services allows to management of the logistics and delivery of printed menus to various restaurants.

Implementation of SSO (single sign-on) providers accommodates the client’s need to log in with their own identities.


The presented solution allows users to save a lot of time, effort, and money, significantly reduces the risk of errors, and helps to quickly and efficiently create unique menu sets for large distributed restaurant chains. From the very beginning to the finished product.

To date, the system has been successfully operating for more than 5 years. First Line Software remains Client’s technical partner and helps to continue the development and expansion of the functionality of the solution.

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