By: Serach Nissim
Restaurant patrons believe it’s about time to ditch QR codes and return to good old pre-pandemic menus.
As reported by the NY Post, many restaurants are still stuck on the QR codes, in lieu of traditional menus. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were happy just to get out of the house and would settle for anything including QR codes to fetch the menu on our own phones. Now though, as thankfully, the situation has eased and we have entered the endemic, it’s a real buzz kill for many. “Dining out should be carefree and fun. QR codes kill the mood and turn what should be a pleasant experience into a chore,” says New York-based communications consultant Rachel Antman, who likes to eat out often. “When I scan a QR code at a restaurant, it reminds me of the check-in rigamarole at kiosks that offer rapid COVID tests,” she said.
When the use of QR menus became popular, it was believed that the virus was spread by surface contact. For the most part, that theory, in itself is now thought to be erroneous. So why are we still squinting through our iPhones, on a two-by-three inch screen, to order a meal? Too many in the industry are staunchly hanging on to the QR menus. Many of the QR code menus are extra lengthy too, requiring multiple swipes, making the process even more difficult for diners trying to enjoy the ambiance.
One manager at a trendy Szechuan spot Shan on Smith Street in Cobble Hill, tried to explained their insistence on using the QR code. “It’s easier to change the menu” from day to day as dishes are added or removed, he said. “The menu is out of date, it changes all the time,” agreed a waiter at a Turkish-Mediterranean Bar on Upper Second Avenue. A manager at Tartina, an Italian cafe on Amsterdam Avenue near West 110th St., said they still use QR codes “for safety reasons”. She refused to elaborate, but added that they may switch to paper when the seasonal menu changes in a couple of months.
Can it be that the restaurants are just hoping to save a couple of bucks on printing and paper? As per the Post, experts say the little savings made by the QR code is canceled out by the fact that patrons order less without a paper menu. Mercer Street Hospitality founder, John McDonald, who uses paper menus at their two famed restaurants, assessed that a medium-size restaurant might save $5,000 a year on menus by using QR codes.
Mr. McDonald also found, however, that his patrons spend 15 percent to 20 percent more when ordering from paper menus. He guessed that the reason people spend less when ordering off a QR code is because they don’t have a “view the whole canvas” at a glance, but rather need to shuffle through different categories one at a time. “I cannot imagine any savings that would convince anyone to want to just do code and not the physical reading of a properly designed, in-hand menu,” McDonald said.