First There Was the Horse Whisperer, Then the Dog Whisperer, Now There Is a…MENU WHISPERER
Menu engineer Gregg Rapp has helped generate millions of dollars in profits for top restaurants with “menu whispering” technique
For 33 years, Gregg Rapp has been showing chefs and restaurant owners that the bottom line in their success ties in directly with the emotions their menus evoke for their customers, before the first bite is taken. Before the first appetizer is even ordered, according to Rapp, the customer connects to the restaurant through the feel and look of its menu.
Rapp, who’s spent 33 years engineering menus from mom-and-pop diners all the way totop restaurant chains, Disneyland, and 5-star restaurants, spends careful time asking the key questions of everyone in the restaurant. Patiently practicing the art of menu whispering with the chef, the owner, the manager and to restaurant chain executives, he delves into the dynamic, beyond just short term profitability of the dining experience they’re seeking. He finds the often subtle ways to tweak their current menus, he says, “to ensure that the menu reflects the identity of the restaurant in the clearest possible way.” Rapp says this is how you build loyalty, increase guest frequency and long term profits and growth.
But how is Rapp able to take an average menu and turn it into such a mouth-watering and evocative experience for the customer that he’s able to directly trace restaurant profitability to the brand new menu?
Recently, Rapp overhauled the menus at a national chain of more than 40 restaurants.
The menu whispering he did for the company resulted in a more than $4,000 monthly profit increase for each venue. Since Rapp engineered the menus, the chain gained about $2 million in annual profit.
But for Rapp, it’s far more than just short term profitability. He asserts, “I don’t put as much emphasis on trends as I do what’s going on in the restaurant and giving the menu the personality that’s needed to take it to the next level. I always say, ‘don’t go and put a cronut on your menu; invent the next cronut!'” laughs Gregg, referring to last year’s bakery sensation, the croissant/donut creation.
Lee Cohn, leading restaurateur and sitting board member for several large restaurant companies, says Rapp’s gift with menu design is not only about the technical and scientific analysis that is common in the industry, but “bringing that other piece out that’s more obscure’¦the emotional connection people have with the menu. That’s something Gregg really understands and others don’t, because it can’t be quantified. It’s both an art and a science.” Rapp adds the scientific aspect is only one step of the process; capturing the essence of a restaurant, which is the artful component of the menu, is just as important to propel the restaurant to sustainable success!
posted by: Eric Fujimori