Since its launch in 2005, 288 Bar & Wok has been a beloved staple of the restaurant scene in Cheltenham.
As part of the founder, Pak Wai’s, commitment to keeping the brand fresh and providing customers with the best possible service the restaurant brand has undergone a number of updates in the past year, including a new website and the launch of an online and mobile ordering solution.
Further to these changes, Pak and the team noted that the physical restaurant menu, known for being diverse in its offering, was starting to look cramped. With an expansive, and expanding, range of meals on offer, it was becoming difficult for customers to sort through options and hard for the restaurant to up-sell customer orders.
In line with streamlined way dishes appear on its mobile and online ordering menus, 288 Bar & Wok decided the time was right to redesign the printed menu for clarity and to maximise selling opportunities.
Previously the menu was printed landscape, on an all black background and with white and red font. In a style familiar to customers of some large Asian food chains, the paper menu doubled as a placemat, remaining on the table throughout the customer’s meal. Every meal option appeared on the page, alongside drinks, something that made the aesthetic heavy on the eye and didn’t encourage guests to order beyond their ‘usual’.
Working with a marketing expert, the team restyled the menu to provide a better flow for the reader. This involved reducing the word count, streamlining menu options, switching the layout of the menu from landscape to portrait and ultimately freeing up space on the page. The new version features a white background, black text and red highlights; while it maintains the restaurant’s brand, it is much easier to read.
With their carbon footprint in mind, Pak also decided to switch out the disposable paper menus and replace them for reusable food cards. These are removed from the customer once the order has been made, although each table now has a permanent drinks menu which remains with the guest.
During the revamp starter and main courses were clearly separated and, for the first time, a ‘wow’ meal deal was added. Containing set, high-margin dishes, the £10 lunch deal saved the customers a small amount and encouraged extra sales.
Removing repetition from the main courses resulted in a huge physical difference in the menu. Now, within a new section called ‘Big Plates’ customers are encouraged to choose one main ingredient, one sauce and one accompanying carbohydrate, for example, duck, oyster sauce, noodles. House favourites remain, but in a distinct box-out. These changes give customers the feeling of extra choice, though in reality, those choices are being carefully guided to ensure they receive a taste-tested meal combination. Ordering psychology can be seen in play here through the list placement of the main ingredients; more expensive items feature at the top (i.e duck) and cheaper ones, lower (i.e tofu).
A final, new annex to the menu is a ‘side dish’ section. Reflecting items found within the starters, but available at a slightly cheaper price point, the side dishes have proved an instant hit in terms of upselling to customers.
Always a master of marketing, Pak and his 288 Bar & Wok team launched the new menu with a deliberately ambiguous post on their Facebook account.
The message, accompanied by a picture of the old menu, read: “After 13½ years it’s time to say good bye. Good Bye”. The outpouring of alarm that the venue could be closing extended the message’s organic reach to 3,789 people, ensuring potential customers sat up and took notice. The subsequent message, revealing the truth, went even further, to 4,837 people and generated 426 reactions.
As soon as the new menu had hit the tables, 288 Bar & Wok noted an upturn in the average customer order; the restaurant saw an increase in takings of just under £1000 compared to the same 12-week period in the previous year.
Splitting out food and drink menus also resulted in positive movement. There’s been a definite increase in drinks revenue and customers haven’t been at all dissuaded by a small increase in drink prices.
Pak Wai, owner, 288 Bar & Wok: “They say, if something ‘ain’t broke,’ don’t fix it. In the restaurant world, that is bumf. You should always be aiming to improve. We did that with our new website, and we did it again when we launched our mobile and online ordering service. The redesign of our menu is the icing on the cake of a wonderful year for 288 Bar & Wok. Our tables are busy, our tills are ringing, and that’s happening because we’re not afraid to adapt and evolve in order to maintain the very best levels of customer satisfaction.”
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