Need a Chef's creative mind to help with a menu for this restaurant>>

Joined Feb 28, 2008
I'm a long time cook, restaurant manager that has lots of experience running restaurants that is trying to open his own restaurant> Below i will try and paint you a picture of the location/demographic/kitchen  of the Restaurant I am trying to buy. I ask for your help in constructing a menu.

The restaurant is 30 minutes inland, outside of Orlando.Its in a Historic Dowtown. The demographic is about 35% snowbird/Brit. 15% transplants from the north, and 50% Florida <mod edit:  We get it, Floridians>

In the DT area there is a Pizza joint, a Irish pub (bar food), a cafe (breakfast/lunch), and a sports bar.
There is a real opening for a southern style place.

The Restaurant:
Its a converted house that was built in 1932 and built out to a restaurant in 2005.(pics below)
*Small kitchen (7 ft hood)- Only 6ft of cooking equpiment space.
*Indoor seating- 25 seats
*outdoor seating- 16-deck/ 32 lawn


My menu as of now:
o             Fried Dill Pickles
o             Fried Mushrooms
o             Shrimp Cocktail
o             Bruschetta
o             Pimento Cheese Stuffed Celery
o             Loaded Potato
o             Seasonal
Example = Gazpacho in Summer / Clam Chowder during Lent / Chicken Noodle in Winter
o             Summer Salad
o             Caesar Salad
o             Cobb Salad
o             Burger
With Sliced Cheese                      
o             Magnolia Burger
Topped with fresh made Pimento Cheese
o             Meatloaf Sandwich
o             7oz Ribeye Sandwich
o             Fish Sandwich (Grilled or fried)
o             Chicken Salad Sandwich
o             Pimento Cheese Sandwich
o             Caesar Chicken Wrap  
o             Magnolia Meatloaf
Southern style meatloaf served with chili ketchup
o             8oz Filet
BC stuffed at $3
o             14oz Ribeye
o             Low Country Seafood
Blackened Mahi/Grouper/Snapper or shrimp served over Cheese Grits with chopped tomatoes
o             Grilled Salmon
o             Grilled shrimp
o             Grilled chicken breast
o             Chicken Salad Entree
o             Vegetable Platter
o             Quiche
o             Garlic Mashed Pot
o             Sweet Potato Casserole
o             Yellow Squash Casserole
o             Cheese Grits
o             Vegetable Medley
o             Black-eyed Peas
o             Sweet Pot Fries
o             Fried Okra
o             Chips
o             Fruit plate
o             Seasonal Cobbler
o             Chocolate Chip Cookies
o             Pecan Pie
o             Cheesecake   

Last edited by a moderator:
Joined Sep 29, 2003
Oh, boy, I can give you tons of ideas, but I'm out the door right now - check back later! :)
Joined Oct 10, 2005
A kitchen with windows!!!!!!!!!

No problems with the menu, looks fine, it's the refrigeraton space I'm concerned about.  If I add up the numbers, on a "good day" you've got 73 seats, and I'm sure you'd focus on drinks and light stuff like salads.  Have you got extra storage space?
Joined Mar 21, 2010
 It doesn't really sound like southern-style food to me, but more like pub/diner food. Is southern food what you're after or did I misunderstand your intentions?? The restaurant looks amazing!!!
Joined Aug 21, 2009
I love the kitchen!  I would love to work in a kitchen that had windows!!! 

The menu looks good to me.  Seeing as you have limited space it makes sense to have a small menu.  Like Foodpump I wonder about your refrigeration space too..  Do you have extra space in the basement where you can put another fridge or freezer if you need to?  At the cafe, we had our dry storage in the basement as well as two freezers and a fridge and it was a blessing for storage space as we had very little upstairs. 
Joined Sep 29, 2003
Okay, I'm back. :)

My general observations would be to use as many crossover items as you can.  Maybe try and use local produce/citrus/seafood when you can.  It can be a great 'hook', as folks are reading more and more about sustaining local farmers and fishermen. 

If this is going to be a 'southern themed' restaurant, there are couple of things that pop out that just don't belong - one is the bruschetta ap. 

Breakdown of the menu -

Aps - I personally love pimento cheese and celery- would I order it at a restaurant?  No.  What about pimento cheese and crackers, or even a pimento cheese 'bruschetta'.  What about a 'down south' egg roll - cooked collards and country ham in an egg roll skin.   Instead of plain old shrimp cocktail, either jazz it up and make it with a spicy salsa, or serve boiled shrimp. 

Soups - Gazpacho is great when it's hot; try and dress it up and make it your own. :)  Hot soups - corn and crab chowder (or plain corn for lent), ham and baby lima soup, chicken and dumpling soup instead of chicken noodle. 

Salads - You could really shine on these with fresh citrus,avocado shrimp, crabmeat, local greens, a special 'house' dressing.  Caesar salad is everywhere  - unless you have a dressing that's gonna knock it out of the park.  Cobb salad - again, you could do a 'southern variation' - use country ham instead of bacon, turkey, avocado.  Pecan/roasted sweet potato salad on baby greens with a citrus/sour cream dressing.

Sandwiches - Add a fried green tomato to that Magnolia burger! 
Southern fried chicken breast sandwich with dill pickles and spicy mayo
Grilled seasonal veggie and cheese sandwich and/or wrap/quesadilla

Beef entree - Ribeye with tobacco onions and horseradish sauce, maybe a bourbon steak sauce; top that filet with some pimento cheese - trust me, lol!

Seafood - What are you calling 'lowcountry seafood?  How is it prepared?   How about local fish instead of salmon? 

Chicken - Southern fried chicken breast w/smashed taters and collards

Veg - Again, try and go local, make the platter with baby veggies.  A summer and winter succotash - in the summer, it's a salad, in the winter it's a hot veg.  Corn, white field beans, baby green beans and limas, even black eye peas, tomatoes.  You could even offer a tomato  platter when tomatoes are locally in season. 

sides - Collards/kale; roasted sweet potatoes are a whole lot simpler to make and keep on hand than a casserole; fresh corn in season or corn pudding in the winter.     

Desserts - Coconut cake!  A must! 

Hope I've given you maybe some more ideas, and also hope I haven't gone overboard!  I just love Southern food, and there are so many new and fresh ideas with using it in different ways. Recipes available upon request. :)  

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