Posted by: Nathan Dinsdale | April 19, 2013

Food for Thought

I believe it was the venerable former Chancellor of Durham University that once strongly advised sensible travelers against eating in restaurants where the menus feature large, glossy photos of the food. Seems a bit unfair to Shari’s, but the point isn’t lost on the diverting but revelatory qualitative research conducted by Mohammed Baiomy et al. (2013) into the typology of restaurant menus. I’ll confess that I haven’t spent much time considering the marketing implications of menus but the researchers make a solid case for their crucial role as mediums of brand and business communications.

The research reaffirms, in my mind, that it’s all about delivering strategic, compelling content, whether you’re writing a dissertation on framing analysis, crafting a marketing campaign, or just finding a really effective way to talk about your huevos rancheros.

Analyzing typology elements like ingredient sourcing and evocative phrasing was compelling (and particularly relevant to Portland, as Ellen mentioned), but what really caught my attention was the concept of Sense of Place (SoP). Normally, I would be skeptical that a menu would impact my choice of hotels. That is, except last week I booked a hotel for an upcoming business trip and the tipping point was, in fact, the hotel restaurant’s menu. The menu itself wasn’t particularly impressive but it told me a lot, between the lines, about the hotel’s brand identity and strong SoP. Which, in my case, might as well stand for sopaipillas.


  1. You’ll never look at a menu the same way again, will you?

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