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Menu as the Influencer


Menu with storage box

Designing a Café Experience - Menu as the Influencer


Dear FinFos (Folks in Food!),

Isn’t the title a no brainer, you’ll say!?

Of course, the menu of a café / restaurant / bar impacts the offline design of a food brand. After all, a Chinese restaurant gotta look like a Chinese restaurant, and not a Tex-Mex!

Yes, and No.

YES, the menu of an F&B service business has a huge influence on the way the physical brand experience is designed.

And NO, following the popular design trends alone for that cuisine is NOT going to help you build a differentiated brand; It probably makes you an also-ran.


So let’s get down to understanding just HOW does the menu for your food business influence the experience, the mood, the design of your F&B brand.


Here are samples of scenarios that an F&B client may come to us (the F&B design consultants) with.

1. For a café, the tea/ coffee i.e. the beverage is central to the menu. The food menu is built around the beverage.

2. The food is as important as the beverage, say in a bar, but may not align to one kind of a cuisine.

3. The choice of cuisine aka food is all important. It is the driver and the differentiator of the brand.

4. Then there’s the dessert brand - ice cream parlour, a bakery or a chocolaterie. It’s the ‘course’ and not necessarily the ‘cuisine’ that’s the focus.


In scenario 3, the menu may be the greatest influence on your offline experience - its geographic origin, ingredients, the architecture, culture or people of origin may be a huge source of inspiration.

Of course, the design approach must still be fresh and distinct and not fall into a trap of cliches. Looking for new expressions and details, and reinterpreting them in the contemporary context is a good creative strategy to follow.


If your menu is generic (scenario 1, 2 or 3), it has only a partial influence, if at all, on your offline experience design. You must look deeper into your brand attributes to come up with a distinct offline experience that delights your customers and gives your brand its own legs to stand on.

These inspirations could come from your target market, their aspirations, sometimes even your pricing strategy.


Dear FinFos, whichever menu path you choose, here’s a mantra to remember.

“Your menu is the fuel that runs the train of your F&B business; Offline Experience Design is the bogey it needs to onboard your customers.”


In our next edition, it’s time for some equipment talk.

Until then, stay hungry and keep building, dear Folks in Food!

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