8 PSYCHOLOGICAL TRICKS OF RESTAURANT MENUS
A restaurant’s menu is more than just a random list of dishes. It has likely been strategically tailored at the hands of a menu engineer or consultant to ensure it's on-brand, easy to read, and most importantly, profitable. Here are a few ways restaurants use their menus to influence what you’re having for dinner.
1. THEY LIMIT YOUR OPTIONS.
The best menus account for the psychological theory known as the “paradox of choice,” which says that the more options we have, the more anxiety we feel. The golden number? Seven options per food category, tops (seven appetizers, seven entrees, etc.). “When we include over seven items, a guest will be overwhelmed and confused, and when they get confused they’ll typically default to an item they’ve had before,” says menu engineer Gregg Rapp. No shame in sticking with what you know, but a well-designed menu might entice you to try something a bit different (and a bit more expensive).
Some restaurants have lost sight of this rule. For example, McDonald’s initially served just a few items but now offers more than 140. Yet the chain's revenue fell by11 percent in the first quarter of 2015. “As we complicate menus, what we’re actually doing is tormenting the guest,” says restaurant consultant Aaron Allen. “When the guest leaves they feel less satiated, and part of it comes down to a perception that they might have made the wrong choice.” If you leave with a bad taste in your mouth, you’re less likely to come back. And in an industry where repeat customers account for about 70 percent of sales, getting diners to return is the ultimate goal.
HOW TO SURVIVE FAST CASUAL'S DECLINE
Penn Station East Coast Subs’ president talks about what to do—and what not to do—to thrive in today's challenging industry.
Leading up to Penn Station East Coast Subs’ annual meeting on June 26, president Craig Dunaway spent 45 days working on his state of the union. Throughout research, Dunaway continued to digest similar headlines: Sagging sales, fleeting foot traffic, or, as Bloomberg recently put it, the reality that “America’s Fast-Casual Dining Boom Is Over.”
According to industry tracker TDn2K, sales across fast casual fell 1.18 percent in May. Another company, BDO, which collects data from publicly traded restaurant companies, identified fast casual as the industry’s lowest performing segment through the first quarter of 2017, with sales declining 2 percent. Bloomberg’s article referred to findings from industry consultant Pentallect Inc., which noted that fast-casual sales growth is slowing to between 6 and 7 percent from around 8 percent in 2016. Growth hovered between 10—11 percent in the previous five years.
Much of this, Dunaway says, can be credited to increased competition, both in fast casual and quick service and some straightforward perspective. Fast casual’s boon was so pronounced, for so long, that a drop off isn’t exactly a reason to smash the panic button. The scales were bound to balance in time.
STEVE JOBS IS NOT THE RIGHT ROLE MODEL FOR YOU
If you want insider stories about entrepreneurship from all aspects, ask Vitaly Golomb. He’s the author of Accelerated Startup and a speaker and investor in global startups. I’ve turned to him since 2015, after we met at TEDxSF. It was then that he taught me about the lack of emotional fitness in startup founders, the depression they face, the loneliness at the top and also, suicides within the startup community. This time, I asked Vitaly about ways to make the life of young entrepreneurs easier. Read our conversation for tangible feedback and an insider’s perspective on succeeding - and failing - in the world of startups.
Nora: Some people outside Silicon Valley tend to say, “If I lived in Silicon Valley, I’d have already built the next billion dollar startup.” Then I go to San Francisco and I find people wandering around, not really knowing what to do or where to start. Am I the only one who thinks it’s not that easy there?
Vitaly: I just came back from Costa Rica. I was there for an event. Many of the people there said the same thing: “Everything is very difficult” and “There’s not enough this or that.” I get the same stories from the different people. I always tell them, “It’s kind of funny, because you say the same thing, just with a different accent.” Same story in Tunisia or Ukraine or UK or Singapore.
From the outside it seems that there is everything there but there really isn’t. Silicon Valley works in a series of concentric circles. It takes a long time to break in, to build a trusted network, to build your reputation and to get people to trust you - all before they even consider investing their time or money in you.
Nora: You got into that inner-circle and you also make an effort to spend a lot of time outside of the Silicon Valley bubble. What made you want to write a book to share your experience? What is something that outsiders don’t understand?
THIS YEW SEAFOOD + BAR BURGER UNITES EAST AND WEST COAST FLAVORS
While it is quite common to find different kinds of seafood burgers served at restaurants across Canada, YEW seafood + bar inside of the Four Seasons Vancouver is putting a patriotic spin on this concept for Canada Day this year.
As its name suggests, the West Coast Salmon East Coast Lobster Burger offers a taste of seafood from both of Canada's coasts. The decadent seafood burger boasts a maple syrup-glazed lobster tail, a filet of wild salmon, plus Canadian bacon and classic burger dressings like tomato, lettuce and avocado. To top it all off, the oversized seafood burger is served on a soft house-made brioche bun.
The patriotic seafood burger is said to be served with crispy waffle-cut fries that are topped with a seasoning that is inspired by ketchup.
NOTE: CREATE YOUR OWN SEAFOOD BURGER. LET SALMON BROKERS HELP YOU.
ROBOTS STEALING HUMAN JOBS ISN'T THE PROBLEM. THIS IS.
A 15-hour work week. That's what influential economist John Maynard Keynes prophesied in his famous 1930 essay "Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren," forecasting that in the next century technology would make us so productive we wouldn't know what to do with all our free time.
This is not the future Keynes imagined.
Many higher income workers put in 50 or more hours per week, according to an NPR/Harvard/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation poll. Meanwhile, lower-income workers are fighting to get enough hours to pay the bills, as shown in a University of Washington report on Seattle's $15 minimum wage publicized this week.
Yet some of today's best minds are making Keynes-like predictions. This month, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said robots will one day replace us — but we needn't worry for a few hundred years.
In May, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Harvard's 2017 class that increased automation would strip us not only of our jobs but also of our sense of purpose.
Automation. Artificial intelligence. Machine learning. Many experts disagree on what these new technologies will mean for the workforce, the economy and our quality of life. But where they do agree is that technology will change (or completely take over) tasks that humans do now. The most pressing question, many economists and labor historians say, is whether people will have the skills to perform the jobs that are left.
"We are moving into an era of extensive automation and a period in which capitalism is just simply not going to need as many workers," said Jennifer Klein, a Yale University professor who focuses on labor history. "It's not just automating in manufacturing but anything with a service counter: grocery stores, movie theaters, car rentals ... and this is now going to move into food service, too.
"What are we going to do in an era that doesn't need as many people? It's not a social question we've seriously addressed."
FORMER STARKIST TUNA EXEC PLEADS GUILTY TO PRICE FIXING
A former StarKist tuna company executive has pleaded guilty in federal court to price-fixing packaged seafood sold in the United States.
Stephen Hodge, a former senior vice president for sales at StarKist Co., entered his plea Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March.
Hodge met with rival industry executives to "fix, raise and maintain the prices" of packaged seafood such as canned tuna, the department said.
Hodge's lawyer, Steven Kowal, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.
The criminal charge filed on May 30 reflects broader concerns about competition within the canned tuna industry, federal prosecutors said.