Customizing Your Restaurant Menu

Quick: what do chains like Subway, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Blimpie, Chipotle, Five Guys and the like have in common?

Customization. While you can easily order a standard default sub, sandwich, burger, or burrito in these locations, such as the ones Subway focuses on every month, you have a whole menu of ingredients that can go on each item. A fan of Sriracha sauce over ketchup? Do you like grilled onions or crispy regular ones? A lot of pickles or a little, stacks of jalapenos or not, and even the variety of cheese you use are all up for choice.

These simple choices, while they may slightly delay the speed of production, vastly allow consumers to make personalized choices, endearing them to your brand and making the sandwich and more they’re buying exactly what they want, not just good enough. It leads to a higher-quality product for the consumer, and less complaints from the chef. If he’s crafted the perfect burger and the customer doesn’t want mushrooms, it’s an insult to their craft. Instead, if the consumer is designing their dream burger and don’t like it, it’s their own fault for thinking sharp cheddar would pair well with spinach salad topping.

The concept is simple enough, but different and at odds for older institutions who may go by the mindset of Ford with the Model-T: “You can have any color you want, as long as it’s black”. McDonald’s, the originator of the fast-food hamburger concept, has decided to give this concept a shot. The Huffington Post reports that a California restaurant is attempting a “build your own burger” concept, after a previous test in Illinois. At the heart of the change is new assembly tables that can feature many more ingredients. Customization will impact speed, something that McDonald’s aims for, so the chances of a national rollout are up in the air. If it impacts speed too much, it won’t likely be nationally adopted.

It’s not too hard to see how McDonald’s could handle this concept; the new assembly table would feature all of the ingredients they would offer on the burger, ranging from standards of ketchup, mustard, pickles, chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and more to eccentric options such as tortilla chips, jalapenos, BBQ sauce, and other items they occasionally sneak into limited-time offerings. This would allow customers to perfect their burger of choice alongside resurrecting old special burgers that they may miss, but McDonalds doesn’t have on their menu.

Customization is something that may be default in many pizza restaurants, but might be unheard in other types of food sales. Is there any sort of item on your menu you can easily offer up for customization? You might want to see offering one basic item and let the consumer chose their toppings; you might even find a few special combinations that really hit it off, and have your consumer base help form your menu!