5 Tips for Creating Retro-themed Diner Menus

Diners have been around for numerous decades and customers love the retro appeal that comes with eating at them. If you own a retro-themed diner, one of the key parts of the classic experience is the menu. This is one of the first things that customers look over and it can really set the mood and tone for the rest of the meal. As you plan your own custom menu printing, there are five design tips you should follow for the best themes and results. You can easily implement one or more of these designs into your official menu.


The menu should feature a variety of retro fonts that capture styles of the past. The following fonts can be combined together or mixed with your own signature font to create a nice retro appeal.

  • York Whiteletter: This retro font is great for separating menu sections and showcasing different elements. For example, you can use the built-in banner on the font to showcase sections like "Appetizers," "Burgers" and "Desserts." The contrast between the letters and background make it easy to read and stand out.
  • Market Deco: A classic font that features basic lines and easy to read text. The font looks like classic business signs. It can be used to highlight sections of a menu and is also great for listing prices.
  • Hand Shop Typography: Showcase a retro font with some depth and a classic painted style. The font has small features that really makes each letter have a nice appeal. It looks smooth when printed and a variety of color combinations can be used to really make the font stand out.

Food Illustrations

While the menu should feature real images of your meals, you can easily implement some retro cartoons to add some diner appeal. Before photography was easily available to print in color, many diners used colored illustrations to showcase a variety of food options. One of the prime examples are the diners and concession stands from classic drive-in movie theaters. The classic "Let's All Go to the Lobby" campaign featured dancing hot dogs, hamburgers, and soft drinks among other things.

You can feature similar drawings and creations on your menu to add a retro appeal. Various stock image websites feature these images for purchase and direct download. A graphic printing company may also have access to additional images you can use for your menu printing.

Patterns & Color Schemes

A huge indicator of your retro design will come with the patterns and color schemes that you choose to use. One of the classic patterns used at retro diners is a checkered pattern. Border your menu with black and white checkered patterns to create a nice design and retro features. Bright and vibrant All-American colors should also be used for the theme of the menu. This includes white backgrounds, red edges, and a mix of blue and red whiting. Lighter versions and pastel colors will also work for the retro design. The colors will stand out and make it easy to read various menu items.

Classic Images & Logos

The key to having a truly retro menu is by eliminating any modern designs and logos. For example, if your restaurant serves Coca-Cola, you can feature this aspect by showcasing the retro Coke logo on the menu design. The same type of design should appear on your menu pictures. Showcase meal pictures on a retro plate and drinks served in retro classics. It helps keep up with the theme of the menu and creates great branding for your restaurant brand.

If you want to mix a little new and the old, feature fun menu design elements like hashtags. For example, small text blocks can features themes like "#TBT" for "Throwback Thursday." The hashtags can appeal to retro elements while still connecting to current customers.

Work with menu printing companies to determine the best menu design layouts and folding options. This will help you select the most effective menu and finishes for your restaurant needs.