The Secret Menu?

Yesterday I learned something at lunch that shocked me.


There is such a thing as the “secret menu”. Now, I was asked not to disclose the place I was eating at. But, it’s true that some places serve special “items” on their secret menu.

So, I went home and did some research and found out it’s becoming a popular think for restaurants to do to build customer loyalty.

I read that experts say more companies are now adding secret menu items.

Especially in this economy, restaurants want to set themselves apart. And in order to do so, they have to connect with customers.

The thinking is that if customers know the secret menu, they feel like they're insiders.  that they feel they know something that maybe not everybody else does.


Nowadays, secret menus pretty much have the same items you'd find on a regular menu, just mixed up in a different way. But the menus make people feel like they're in on something. It's like they've become restaurant insiders, or like they've cracked some big code.

The latest player to jump into the secret menu game is Panera Bread. Last month, the company rolled out six new items.

One thing you won't see on Panera Bread's secret menu? Bread.

As Scott Davis, who oversees menus for Panera Bread, explains, "This is probably the most extreme anti-kind of Panera diet you can have, right? It doesn't include bread and flour and that sort of stuff."

So at its 1,800 stores around the country, Panera trained its employees to either pull out the secret menu card or scan a code that'll put the menu on a customer's mobile device.


But only if someone asks for it.

The reason Panera is doing it this way is because it saves money not having to go through the printing of all the collateral materials, and ultimately cluttering up the cafe with too many messages.

Panera is getting the word out through its customer loyalty program and through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. It's not uncommon for restaurants launching secret menus to use word of mouth in this way.