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Restaurant Menu, iPod, and Your Underwear…

davidCelebrity chef David Adjey (star of Restaurant Makeover, and a chef to other celebrities like Dan Aykroyd), opens his book with his version of culinary “commandments”. Quoting as I remember it, one of them goes like this:

“Never order anything off a menu that is longer than your underwear.”

Green with envy that David has found this uber-powerful metaphor, I think of it every time I’m at a restaurant. (Even though I don’t need to pull down my khakis to know that the menu is ugh.)

The menu should never be taken lightly. Each item is a salesperson. A salesperson that doesn’t sell needs to be fired. A menu item that doesn’t sell need to be cut. Fast and to the bone.

And then some.

Because there is no room for things coincidental and circumstantial. The menu needs direction and purpose.

And focus.

A lot of it.

The kind of focus that makes it impossible for one’s mind to wander away even for a second. The kind that makes a buying decision a snap. The customer is here to have a great meal and definitely not to spend time solving charades and puzzles. The menu is a shortcut between a craving in the stomach and a hot dish on the table. Anything but, and trouble is imminent.

“iPod” has become a synonym for “MP3 player.” An indisputable market leader, it is very possibly a player with the least number of functions. Which is counterintuitive. Yet it sells like gangbusters, understandably torquing off all their competitors who just don’t “get it.”

A brief history lesson: When the first iPods hit the market, their hardware included an FM tuner and a voice recorder. Yet these two relatively important functions were not enabled on purpose. Steve Jobs (the CEO of Apple) decided to sacrifice functionality for the sake of clarity and simplicity. As a result, an entire new industry was created.

Same applies to the menu:

Less is easier.

Less is faster (faster order, faster dish, faster table turn-over).

Less is more money in the bank account.

PS: We recently recorded an interview with someone who reduced his menu to just one entree, one side, and one drink. His sales are going through the roof and people fly in to eat at his restaurant from all over the world (even Tokyo). Heck, he even appeared on Jay Leno! While the interview is being sound edited, all subscribers will receive an “uncut” version of the interview. (And if you’re not a subscriber, you need to sign up fast — there, in the top-right corner.)

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