Decoding the menu: Secrets from your favorite restaurants

Decoding the menu: Secrets from your favorite restaurants

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ATLANTA -

You might not know it, but there's a lot of planning that goes into making a restaurant menu.  You might think you're in control when you're ordering off the menu, but as Good Day Atlanta's Tacoma Perry shows you, restaurants spend lots of time and money making sure they're calling the shots.

You might think all the work at a restaurant goes into making the food, but for those in the industry, the real work is in the menus.  

Professor Kevin Murphy has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years.  He says before restaurants fill your belly, they get in your head.  He says repeated studies have shown that your eyes read the choices from the upper left side of the menu to the lower right side every time.  That means restaurants position their picks accordingly.

Murphy says once we focus on a section, we reliably look at the top and bottom choices, ignoring the rest.  So, restaurants, he says, place their most profitable items in those spots.  

Photos will also catch your eye on a menu, and we're drawn to anything separate from the rest.  Restaurants know it.  It may be debatable whether that special on the menu is tasty, but it's certainly a moneymaker.

Another secret is in the color.  Murphy says primary shades like red and yellow subtly tell diners to hurry up so they can seat the next customers.  An earth tone on a menu, on the other hand, is a subconscious invitation to take your time.  

Murphy says there is one restaurant that defies all the rules for making a menu work.  He says The Cheesecake Factory is one of the most successful chains in the USA, despite its 20-plus page menu.

 

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