The Secret to Successful Secret Menus

June 2016

Everyone enjoys the feeling of being in on a secret, especially when it comes to dining. If executed thoughtfully, “secret” menus featuring new and unique food options can be beneficial to any operation.

Diners are attracted to the exclusivity of secret menus. A study conducted by Penn State University tested two groups of diners at a restaurant. One group ordered from the typical menu, and the other group was told they were ordering from a “secret” menu. The diners who ordered the same food from the secret menu said they enjoyed their meals more.

Use these tips to create a secret menu with not-so-secret profit potential for your operation:

  • Listen to your diners and pay attention to their special orders. If customers often request a specific menu change or ingredient alteration, make it a part of your secret menu.
  • Use the secret menu as a research and development tool. Test out different menu items to see if they’re popular with diners before adding them to your “permanent” lineup.
  • Keep it secret. Advertising your secret menu defeats the purpose. It’s not special or exclusive when everyone knows about it. To work properly, a secret menu should be driven by customer hype.

Does your operation already have a secret menu? If so, shhh—don’t tell. Instead, visit our Facebook, Twitter and Culinary Center for some secret recipe inspiration.


Danovich, Tove. “Secret Burger Menus, Explained.” Eater. April 13, 2015.

“Secret Sauce: Why Do We Love ‘Secret’ Restaurant Menus?” ezCater. October 2, 2015.

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