How To Create A Secret Menu

What Are We Talking About?

Secret menus are of legend at multiple restaurants; some are truly secret and unadvertised, while others are mentioned and discoverable, just not on the paper menu in the restaurant.

Who Should Do This?

Any restaurant wanting more customers, more loyal customers, and a certain air of mystery attributed to their brand.

How Do I Create A Secret Menu?

  1. Talk to your chefs and staff. See what’s been made behind the scenes, what people have liked off the menu, or what people regularly request that isn’t carried on the menu (but doesn’t take a whole lot of work to customize).
  2. Gauge whether some dishes are economical on a larger scale than before. For the most part, you’ll want to make sure they’re using standard items in the kitchen and are cooked at appropriate temperatures for the purposes of health and safety.
  3. Decide on what you’ll carry, prices, and if any inventory shifts will be needed to make for it (hopefully, none).
  4. Decide on how you want to go about this menu. Do you want to have it hidden on the website? Do you want it to be purely word-of-mouth? Do you want the servers and waitstaff to appear reluctant about talking about it, or jump at the opportunity to spread “secrets”?

Never…

  • … buy rapidly-perishing items for just the secret menu. If you only use peanut butter on a secret menu “Elvis Burger”, peanut butter has a decent shelf-life and doesn’t take too much space (and in most cases, doesn’t even need to be refrigerated), so a jar of that isn’t out of the question, but only having lobster for a “Lobster Burger” would be absurd.
  • … put a “Secret Menu” section on the menu. That defeats the entire purpose. Put a little bit of a challenge in the hands of the consumer; let it be mysteriously hidden on the website, casually mention it when it comes to specials, and so forth. It’s not a secret if you run into it by casually looking at the menu.

Be Careful…

  • … with training on the secret menu. While you might have established recipes on the secret menu that grew from getting creative in the kitchen, you need to ensure that all staff handling them are preparing them properly, while the front-side know (or can find out) nutritional facts and ingredients and such.

Definitely try…

  • … new items! One major point of a secret menu is to experiment with recipes, dishes, and such. If an item becomes a massive hit on the secret menu, it might just deserve a spot on the regular menu.