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Restaurant menu automation / variable data

New Here ,
Feb 13, 2024 Feb 13, 2024

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Over the past few days I've been looking into methods to either set up, generate or manage restaurant menus variably.

 

One of my clients is a hospitality group that owns a few different restaurants, most of which I designed the menus for. However they often simultaneously update their menus and prices for all locations which results in quite a laborious proces that leaves a lot of room for human error. This because theres multiple variants of the same menu in use at different shapes and sizes. (For instance within the restaurant, outdoors on the wall, in front of the restaurant in a display, some have menu's behind the counters etc.) Which makes it quite easy to miss a value or some textual tweak.

 

What I would ideally like to do is hand the restaurant managers an excel sheet that follows a specific format and based off of this generate the individual menus or change details where need be. (for instance containing: menu item, title, type, price, description, etc.)

 

I've been trying to set this up through native InDesign functionalities (Data Merge and Table Import)  however I've reached the conclusion that I'm probably going to be in need of a plugin to do this for me. Though I've been finding it difficult to navigate this landscape since they all seem to use their own terminology and in most instances the tools I believe I'm in need of are mainly intended for complex catalog work. Which are, like Data Merge, mainly intended to generate multiple 'contents/data' within the same dimensions, instead what I need is the same 'contents/data' in different dimensions. 

 

And it's quite difficult to figure out which plugins support what I actually need and which won't work, so I was hoping if anyone on here has got any prior experience in what I'm trying to achieve and maybe even some recommendations for plugins. Another slight concern I have is that most tools have annual subscriptions of over $1500,- which is quite steep to shell out on a plugin I'll probably be using only on a quarterly basis.

 

So if anyone has had any similar experiences or uses any similar plugins for the same goals, do let me know. I'm really curious to know what works best for you.

 

Some of the plugins I've ran into myself:

EmSoftware - InData / InCatalog

Teacup - Datalinker

xmpie - uDirect

Cacidi - Livemerge

Meadows - DesignMerge

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Guru , Feb 13, 2024 Feb 13, 2024

Besides DataMerge and plugins. it's possible to achieve this task by making a custom script. For example. recently I wrote the Update prices in the Wholesale Catalog script. The test files are also available for download to run and see how it works. You can't use it as it is. It simply illustrates the approach.

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Guru ,
Feb 13, 2024 Feb 13, 2024

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Besides DataMerge and plugins. it's possible to achieve this task by making a custom script. For example. recently I wrote the Update prices in the Wholesale Catalog script. The test files are also available for download to run and see how it works. You can't use it as it is. It simply illustrates the approach.

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New Here ,
Mar 01, 2024 Mar 01, 2024

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Ahhh cool! I hadn't even considered anything of the sorts since my scripting knowledge is at a bare minimum. But I'll have a look at it over the weekend! Hopefully I can figure something out. Thanks a bunch for your response!

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