Being 'Effective' when Preparing for Menu Changes

By: Peter Goodwin, Restaurant Operations Strategy Expert

The largest and most constant task faced by a restaurant Point of Sale (POS) administrator is menu updates. Whether it’s basic pricing updates or full seasonal menu changes, a little planning guarantees a smooth transition between menus and ensures your high level of restaurant service is maintained.

When preparing to update your menu in the POS system, you should:

1. Ensure you have a full list of new menu items including:

  • Description
  • Price
  • ‘Condiment Groups’ and ‘Modifiers’*
  • Layout for the order dockets

*Modifiers are things that can be added to your menu items (e.g. béarnaise sauce or mushroom sauce), removed from the menu item (e.g. no peas), changed for the menu item (e.g. cooked rare, cooked medium) or an instruction e.g. (very hot). ‘Condiment Groups’ are categories for your ‘Modifiers’ (e.g. cooking temperatures).

2. Review the list to see if any of the required ‘Condiment Groups’ are in the system already. Then check to ensure all applicable ‘Modifiers’ for that ‘Condiment Group’ are added. Note that while steak sauces may be an available ‘Condiment Group’, check that each type of applicable ‘Modifier’ is also entered (e.g. Pepper sauce may be a new option). 

3. Rather than going through the steps of setting every item from scratch, it simple to copy an existing item that works the same way, rename it and change its price. Review the list of new items to see which of these items will behave in the same way as other items already programmed. Ask yourself: 

  • What sections of the menu they appear on? (e.g. entrée or main)
  • Do they have different sizes? (e.g. small or large)
  • Are they decrementing specials? 

4. Once you have entered all your items and relevant programming (condiments, sizing etc.), go to a POS workstation, ring in every item and send it to the kitchen. Check with the chef that the order docket is formatted to their liking and that kitchen staff will be able to easily read and prepare the order. Print a guest check and ensure the items are formatted correctly and in the right price. (Don’t forget to void all items off afterwards) 


  • It is always best to do your programming (particularly if you have a whole new menu to add) when you can be undisturbed, and when staff are not using the system. In some operations this is not possible, so just let the staff know you are adding new items and to ignore them if they see them pop up at POS. 
  • Give yourself plenty of time to make sure the new menu items are programmed and tested correctly. Advance preparation is the key, even several months ahead is better than trying to do all this the night before a menu launch. 
  • Use effective dates (outlined below), to hide new items until the day they come into effect. This way you won’t confuse wait staff! 

Effective Dates

Menu items can have effective dates set, so that they are only available between ‘Effective from’ and ‘Effective to’ fields. Once you have set these dates, the fully programmed menu items will not show on the POS workstations until the ‘End of day’ runs to begin the start of the effective date. 

The same process can be used to stop old menu times from showing on the screens after they are no longer available. For example, as seasonal menu may start on Monday 1 September and go through to Sunday 2 December. For items that you only want to show during these dates, enter ‘Effective from’ and ‘Effective to’ fields. 

Note - if an item has no effective dates entered, it will always be available. If you just program in a start date, it will show from that date onwards.

This is also a great feature when you only want a special item to be made available for a limited time. For example, when the chef says they want to take advantage of some in season produce for the next 4 weeks, or if you have a special in place for a new brew of beer. 

The best feature of effective dates is that you can do your entire menu programming well in advance and it automatically comes available on the day.

No more late nights programming menu items!

Find out more about what MICROS can do for you! For more information contact us at Phone: 866.287.4736 (US and Canada)

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« February 2015