It's the night you've been waiting so long for! You booked the restaurant 3 weeks in advance after hearing that it was going to "open your eyes to the heights of luxury." On arrival, you're politely greeted and walked to your table, past the gleaming marble topped bar and polished Churchill Crockery. You feel the excitement build. You're tucked in under the hand crafted teak table as you perch on a bespoke, real leather chair. You notice the intense smells of the exotic food on offer as you're presented with... a "Record of Achievement" style plastic menu cover? Displaying the words "A la Ca-te Men-" written beneath an image which has a loose similarity with the restaurant logo...
And there it is, the moment that your bubble is blown! The restaurant obviously had a keen eye for quality interior decor and was eager to impress with an all-round sense of class; however, overlooking the finer details is a mistake that all too many establishments make. It's often the finer details that get brought up during negative reviews on popular review sites like TripAdvisor, seeing everything else that was so good about the experience belittled down to an "average" 3-star review. Harsh as this may seem, it is the reality of the hospitality industry in the digital age.
As kids, we're often told that the first impression is the most important, as they set the tone for the whole experience and they're very hard to reverse. If your first glimpse of what's on the menu is typed up on a flimsy piece of card, flapping about every time the waiter walks past, your idea of the consideration that went into creating the food combinations isn't likely to be accurate. The chef isn't really given a fair chance. However, bestowed in a high quality menu holder, considered within the context of the restaurants interior decor and with a subtle embossing of the restaurants branding, that first impression is elevated along with your attitude towards every other feature of the affair.
Judging a book by its cover
The classic saying is "Don't judge a book by its cover", but the truth is, everybody always does, and always has. The first recognised books from around 100 BC were sandwiched between decorated pieces of wood and bound together with twine. Even in 100 BC "publishers" knew that people would be more attracted to a durable book with an interesting decoration. Technology may have been brought forwards, but the principles are the same today. The pictured "Longfellow's Poetical Works" was given as a Christmas present in 1874 and is a testament to the durability and beauty of binding techniques old and new. This book is made with a leather external and decorated with a de-bossed and gold foiled artwork (the same methods as we use to this day.)
To create bespoke menu covers today we have many more materials at our disposal, allowing for many more possibilities for individuality. Also, the industrial revolution has allowed us to bring machines into the production process to allow for more refined techniques, a higher quality end product and much faster production times. However, creating a hard-wearing and alluring menus, built to last in a busy hospitality environment, is a craft that has to be honed by years of experience and attentiveness.
Good advice comes from bad experiences
What can barely go unnoticed from the image of "Longfellow's Poetical Works" is how, even though it's clearly seen a lot of love over the years, it is in great shape. If you could flick through it you'd see that it is in perfect working order. This is down to the incredible craftsmanship that went into making the book cover. Advising you on how to get the full potential from your interior design is best done when the advisor has seen some pretty poor examples.
Cutting and sticking can have a surprisingly detrimental effect on the appeal and perceived quality of a menu book. A poorly cut material stuck on in a hap hazard way will look incredibly cheap when compared with a plush and neat enjoinment.
How often have you seen a sign with a letter hanging off? It doesn't give a great first impression, does it? You want your guests to associate your brand with high quality, but it's hard for your guests to see that if your logo isn't displayed with honour. From the previous book example, we can see that foiling and print can last for a very long time when it's done well. Although, in the wrong hands, it can easily be done very badly. Apart from distorted imagery and pixilation, if poor practice is used, the artwork can start to wear very quickly, which is great if you like a grunge look or missing letters, but not ideal if you don't want to replace your menu covers every few months.
When you've paid for your bespoke menus to be made and then waited whilst the process takes place, you don't want to be greeted with a tattered and damaged box on arrival.
As you open the box, that dreaded sinking feeling is going to kick in. The order hasn't been packaged properly and now you're left with only an handful of items that are useable and not damaged whilst you wait, yet again, for replacements to be made.
Luxury is in every detail
Much like food trends, design trends move quickly and it's equally as important that your venue doesn't feel too dated as this is a real turn-off. In the world of hospitality interior design, there are some timeless materials like leathers, woods and buckrams which, if the quality is good, will allow you to go for years without updating your design and accessories. These don't have to be the boring options though! With plenty of different grains and colours available, these classics can stand out as much as many, more eccentric materials. Create a classy impression with a subtle embossed logo on a slightly grained leather menu book, or a rustic, warming feeling with a rich mahogany real wood menu cover.
The upside of ever changing trends are that manufacturers are constantly being pushed to create new things, some not as long-lasting as others. The important thing is that you have a huge range of options available to you to make the right decisions for your needs. Guided with the aforementioned 'good advice', eye-catching and varied effects can be obtained. Get incredible texture with the Wicker & Weave Menu Covers or create a labyrinth pattern to create a striking replica of your wallpaper pattern. Thank you again, industrial revolution.
Steve Jobs once said " It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." This is certainly something to bear in mind as you don't want to be unscrewing and re-screwing 100 screws if you change your menu every day. Equally, your prized luxuries will last a lot longer and look a lot better if they are designed well.
If you change your menu every day, you have probably thought - "I wish I could just slide these inserts in." Using an internal cord fixing could be your answer, allowing you to slide your folded inserts under a cord on the inside of a spine. Or, if you are looking for an A4 menu holder but don't have an A3 printer, a grip fix or magnet fix might be better suited to your needs. Simple solutions like this make your life easier, saving you time and money, and having options means that you don't have to compromise on design.
Whereas, if you prefer to use a screw fixing, look for well thought through design. Internal screw fixes can wear the inner material away and look quite cheap. Make sure the screw is covered by a material flap which will not only hide the screws neatly, but also protect the inside of the cover.
The hospitality sector is an extremely competitive industry so ensuring that you are a cut above everyone else whilst being sustainable is a must. Ensuring that your interior decor works well as a full outfit means that you will get the most out of what you're putting in and make your customers feel like they're in a well put together establishment. Employing well made, reusable items means more value for money and less waste. Most importantly, the bespoke menu cover you choose is going to represent your business. Make sure that you trust the expertise of the manufacturer in making a product that will enhance your businesses stature and put the best light on the whole reason we are here, our love all things 'foodie.'
Guest article written by Smart Hospitality Supplies.