Menu Writing Lesson 6 : Menu USP

Having a Unique Selling Point and making sure you communicate this is key to standing out. Get this right and customers will return to you time and time again as no one will be able to replicate this like you. Kitchen CUT Co-Founder John Wood takes a look at how you identify your USP and why it’s important.

What is my USP (Unique Selling Point)?

Even in these difficult times there are still many restaurants opening, but unfortunately there are also a number that are still closing.If you are thinking of opening a restaurant or are reviewing your existing restaurant you need to consider what your U.S.P. (Unique Selling Point) is. There are many different elements that can make up what a restaurant’s USP is, such as design, service, concept, location, style, uniforms, price plus many other points. In many cases, it can a combination of these but today we are going to focus on the menu USP.

Your menu USP

The menu is an extremely powerful marketing tool and what you write on it is very important and in most cases will determine whether you succeed or fail. Knowing how to make your menu different starts with a bit of research.


A good starting place is to understand who your customers are, and what they like and the types of places they frequent. A menu USP could be something very different, but if it only appeals to a very small customer base, it’s not going to drive the footfall you need to keep the business going.


I always encourage people to consistently look at their competition. This does not only consist of drawing a five mile circle around your restaurant and looking at everyone that serves food in that area, but more a sensible view looking at similar restaurants in the area. You should also look at places where people may drive to instead of you if you’re not based in a city/town centre. If you have a very nice Gastro pub there is not much point in comparing yourself to a kebab shop, even if some of your customers may frequent both places it is for different occasions. Try not to be all things to all men, you can confuse your customers and dilute what your brand and identity is. Once you’ve established where your customers that fit your profile are eating now, look at these businesses on each day of the week so you can fully understand their busy and quiet days. Then ask your self and the your team to find out the following:
  • What days and meal periods are they busy?
  • Why are they busy?
  • What do they do well?
  • What does everyone seem to be eating?
  • Why do you think people like them?
  • What are their prices like?
  • How big is their menu?
  • Do they have enough choice (fish, meat, poultry, vegetarian etc)?
  • What is their concept and how can you be better?
  • Do they have a menu USP?

New concept

If you are creating a new concept or restaurant, speak to local people about what they would like to see in the area. If the town has lots of Chinese restaurants already you may want to consider a modern Pan Asian Cuisine restaurant with a modern twist and Asian influences in the menu or you may decide there is a need for a French Bistro? There is nothing wrong with adding another gastro pub to a town that has four, but you must be really sure that you are offering something very unique on your menu. Look at:
  • Having unique dishes that no one else does
  • Having 1 or 2 ‘Hero‘ dishes (See below) that are simply the best there is in the town.
  • Being better value than anyone else ( not too cheap though, just better value)
  • Having a unique serving idea like ‘Hot rocks’ that you can cook your own protein at the table?

What is a Hero dish?

These are a few dishes on your menu that you are superb at and they are different to anyone else’s version. These can be simple dishes like a burger, but you have created a special burger patty recipe with your butcher or made yourself that you tried shutterstock_145936346and tested and it is a the best you have ever tasted. Perhaps served in a great, unusual bun with fantastic fresh salad and the best chips you have every made. Basically it is a dish that you love to make and there is no better one you can make or have ever tasted! It is what you will become known for!  

Word of mouth

The best way to promote a restaurant is by word of mouth. Get people to say, “I went to that new restaurant the other day – they do a great…“, or, “Their dishes are great value“, or, “I tried their special dish and is was great and really fun“.


  • If you have a good restaurant and you just want to liven it up and get busier, get a menu USP. Do something that no one else does as well as you. People are still eating out you just need to give them enough reasons to want to come to you.
  • Once you have created all of these wonderful menus and fantasic Hero dishes, make sure you write very detailed spec sheets, recipes and take photos of how you want the dishes to look so that no matter who is in the kitchen, the dish will always be served the same. No customer orders a dish a second time and expects it to be different. Meet their expectations every time to build your reputation. CONSISTENCY IS KING!

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