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The psychology of the restaurant menu

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It might not be quite as complicated as Einstein's Theory of Relativity, but the intricacies of menu design date back more than 40 years. Books were even published on the science of selling succulent entrees.

"The menu is the most important thing, the menu is the foundation, the menu is also essentially your price list," said Drew Nieporent, owner Myriad Restaurant Group. His restaurants include Tribeca Grill and Nobu.

"You have to be smart enough to keep your menu design to 10 apps and 10 entrees, which you can control the quality of," he added.

While still controlling just about every other aspect of the menu, three types generally exist: Tribeca Grill's single-page format; the two-page, single fold; and, of course, the three-panel, two-fold variety.

No matter what it is, it needs to be read fast. A Gallup poll reported customers spend an average of just 109 seconds reading a menu.

"Based on psychology they will put most expensive dish to the right side, but then right below that they'll have the dish considered a decoy that usually has the highest margin of profit," said Elliott Levenglick of 2dineout.com.

Eyes even move a certain way around a menu. You generally first look smack in the middle, and then to the upper right hand corner.

Your gaze can be altered by things called "eye magnets." then there are techniques to draw you in that are not even on the menu

"Now, you've been to a lot of restaurants where you have a menu, but the waiter comes over and goes tonight 'we have this and we have that...' but not saying any prices," Nieporent said. "You get bill those specials considerably more expensive than printed menu."

Equations for success as important to restaurant owners as E=mc2  is to scientists.

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