The decision about which dishes should appear on the menu is crucial to attracting customers and maximizing restaurant profitability. There is a paucity of empirical research on quantifying the effects of particular menu items on the efficiency of a restaurant. The present research used an innovative metafrontier-to-data-envelopment analysis method to aid decision making when distinguishing between desirable, improved, and undesirable menu items by efficiency measurements to increase a restaurant's profitability. The metatechnology ratio obtained via the metafrontier approach compared the technology level in different meal periods. The results, based on real data gathered during 3 months from two same-brand units of a chain restaurant, show that the efficiency of the metafrontier-to-data-envelopment analysis method increased the profitability of the restaurants by more than 15% compared with the traditional menu-engineering method. The metatechnology ratios also identified that the skill level differed between the meal periods, which was because of the presence of different operators. Managerial and strategic implications for menu planners and future research are described.
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