- Toast POS
- Online Ordering
- Reporting and Analytics
Creating Tahini’s Minimum Viable Menu — and Staying Afloat with Toast’s Online Ordering
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have deployed a minimum viable menu, or a condensed version of a menu with only items that balance popularity with profitability. Here's how to build yours, with advice from San Diego's Tahini.
In making the complex transition from being a dine-in restaurant to a digital restaurant offering takeout and delivery only, few components seem as translatable as the menu. Copying and pasting the contents of a dine-in menu to a delivery app takes a few minutes and gives the customer the basic thing they need to be able to order from you. But there are serious limitations to this bare-bones approach: your menu is powerful, and optimizing it for takeout and delivery can save you time, money, and inventory headaches.
If you simply apply your full-service menu to a takeout and delivery operation, you’re bound to hit some snags. Some beloved dine-in items don’t travel well, and others are built from expensive ingredients that spoil quickly if they go un-ordered. In times like these, those are the menu items that don’t need to be taking up space on your takeout and delivery menu.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have deployed a minimum viable menu, or a condensed version of a menu with only items that balance popularity with profitability, in line with the principles of menu engineering. The goal is to entice customers and boost your profitability: it’s the smallest menu you can build that does both simultaneously. Prioritizing top sellers not only increases convenience for the items customers love most, but allows restaurants to shift toward a leaner, more efficient operation.
The Minimum Viable Menu at Tahini
Among the restaurants who have embraced the minimum viable menu is the San Diego-based Middle Eastern street food kitchen Tahini. Led by co-owner Osama Shabaik, who built the community around a shared love for authentic street food, Tahini’s minimum viable menu gives customers the maximum amount of choice, while staying true to his mission. Instead of keeping their full menu that had been built for dine-in, they did some analysis and figured out which items would stay and which would go.
“We’ve built our menu organization around keeping everything as simple as possible,” said Shabaik. “We organized our menu into easy to understand, clearly marked sections. Within each category we’ve focused on simple menu offerings that are highly customizable using modifiers.”
Modifiers are a great way to drive up revenue, and account for the ever-growing customer desire for foods that can be adapted to their specific tastes.
Thanks to their smart approach to menu optimization, “Online ordering is making up a larger share of our revenue than it ever did before,” shared Shabaik. “It has played a pivotal role in keeping us afloat.”
How to Make Your Minimum Viable Menu
For other restaurants looking to leverage a minimum viable menu to enhance their customer experience and create more efficiency in the kitchen, Tahini recommends the following checklist:
- Track what’s selling and what’s not so you can eliminate excess inventory orders and identify top performing items.
- Find out what you have in your inventory and how you can use what’s already there.
- Choose low-cost, high-profit ingredients to build out a small menu to work off of.
- Focus on dishes that are inexpensive to make, but are crowd pleasers.
- Update your inventory needs based on this small menu, and eliminate orders for anything you’re not using anymore, like communal-size condiments that used to be available for guests to use.
- Consider alternate ways of packaging your food to sell larger amounts at a time. Examples are meal prep boxes, frozen menu items in bulk, picnic baskets, and family meal feasts.
Learn more about how Tahini and other restaurants are tapping into the power of digital ordering to delight customers, drive revenue and create new, powerful experiences here.