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The Practical Alternative to Folded Restaurant Menus

A practical alternative to a Folded restaurant menu is to create the menu as a spiral bound Booklet, with each page encapsulated in a thick plastic laminate. The menu opens and closes very easily and will lie perfectly flat…plus it is entirely stain and spill proof.

Traditionally, dine-in restaurant menus have incorporated one or more folds to create multiple panels, or pages, of information. Whether using a bi-fold, tri-fold, gatefold, or other folding configuration, the folds of the menu help divide the food and drink choices into concise and logical sections.

In addition to presenting an abundance of options in a logical format, restaurant menus have to endure frequent handling as well as be resistant to stains and spills. To add durability and protection, many restaurants choose to encapsulate their printed menus within a durable plastic laminate.

What does Encapsulate Mean?

To encapsulate a printed menu means it is completely enclosed in a plastic laminate. Also referred to as a "sealed-edge" laminate, the menu is sandwiched between two pieces of clear plastic film that extend past the edge of the printed menu by 1/8" to 1/2". This allows the two sheets of laminate film to bond to each other around the entire perimeter, thus totally enclosing the printed menu in plastic. This prevents moisture and contaminants from ever touching the printed paper substrate.

Thinner Laminates Sacrifice Durability for Function

Popular laminate thicknesses include 1.5mil, 3mil, 5mil and 10mil. The thicker the laminate, the more durability and protection it offers. However, if the menu is constructed of folded panels, the thicker laminates are too rigid to fold properly.

For this reason, most folded restaurant menus use a laminate thickness of 1.5mil or 3mil, both of which are thin and flexible enough to fold with good results. However, these thinner laminates sacrifice some durability in exchange for function.

Thicker Laminates are Not Well-Suited for Folded Menus

Folded menus can be created with a 5mil laminate, but it is rarely the recommended option. Even when the fold lines are pre-scored, the rigidity of the laminate will prevent the menu from folding tightly or lying flat. In many cases, the menu will also have a tendency to spring open…a feature many restaurateurs prefer to avoid.

This brings us to the 10mil laminate, which is extremely tough and rigid. So rigid in fact, that it cannot be folded. Though it provides the ultimate protection for flat, single-sheet menus, it is not a realistic option for menus that fold.

What is the Practical Alternative?

By extending the width of the laminate along the binding edge, the holes for the binding coil penetrate the laminate only…thus preventing moisture or dirt from ever contacting the paper substrate.

Any folded menu can be easily redesigned as a spiral bound booklet. The panels created by the fold lines simply become pages in the booklet. The thicker 5mil and 10mil laminates can now be used to encapsulate the pages and the menu will lie perfectly flat in the open and closed positions.

The secret to maintaining the integrity of the encapsulation is to extend the sealed-edge laminate well past the "binding edge" of the cover and pages. This way, the holes for the plastic binding coil can be punched so that they penetrate the laminate only, not the paper substrate. This preserves the moisture and dirt barrier of the protective laminate.

Summary of Benefits

Below are the benefits of creating a laminated menu as a spiral bound booklet instead of using a folded configuration:

  • The thicker laminates can be used, thus providing increased protection
  • The menus will lie perfectly flat, whether in the open or closed position
  • The pages of the menu will turn very easily; there is no spinal tension
  • The menus can be created with virtually any width, height, or page count
  • The menus will have increased longevity; encapsulation makes the menus completely stain and spill proof
  • The laminate used on the menus can have a glossy or matte finish, and have corners that are square or rounded
  • The multi-page design is particularly well-suited for restaurants that offer an extensive food and drink selection
  • The spiral bound menus can be created for a very reasonable cost

If you'd like to further explore the benefits of creating menus as spiral bound booklets, give Formax a call at 866-367-6221. Or, if you already know your specs, click here to access our easy quote form. We look forward to assisting with your custom-printed menu project!

Take care! Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing, plus mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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