Five Reasons Why QR Code Menus Aren’t Going Away

Restaurant customers do everything from their phones. They may have discovered you from an Eater article, booked their reservation through OpenTable, or located you via Google Maps, and they will surely review their experience on Yelp — whether positive or negative — when their meal is complete. 

It’s not shocking that many restaurants are keeping with the COVID-bred tradition of QR code menus long after the CDC’s more conservative guidelines have softened. It’s been reported that 35 percent of 18- to 25 year-olds keep their phones by their side during every meal. Regardless of whether this is proper dinnertime etiquette, the truth is that most people can pull out their smartphone to read through your menu just as easily as perusing a physical menu.

Here are five reasons why you should stick with QR code menus instead of pulling those plastic menus out of storage.

Though COVID fears have certainly waned since the pandemic’s start, there are some things that will always remain true — nobody likes a sticky menu. You can ask your staff to wipe down the menus after your “all you can eat pancake breakfast,” or you can avoid the issue entirely by ditching the physical menu for good.  

A recent Mashed article reported that there could be as many as 185,000 microbes per square centimeter thriving on a restaurant menu, which is 185 times more than what you’d find in a public toilet. A QR code menu can be the first step toward protecting your customers and staff from E.coli and S. aureus (staph) — both known to survive on plastic menus. 

Unless you have a great relationship with a local printer, you’ll have to factor menu costs into your bottom line. You can go with a cheaper option like simple paper menus printed at home, but they may not be as professional or durable as professionally printed ones. 

You can create a QR code menu for free, which is certainly rare in the restaurant world. The lower your marketing costs, the more money you can spend on essential things like high-quality ingredients, inviting decor, and of course, fair pay for your employees.

You might try to recycle your old paper menus when you add new dishes to the mix, but no paper or plastic at all is really the best way to go. Many restaurants toss a paper menu into every takeout order, but try posting a QR code near your register instead. 

Here’s an even better idea: Offer an incentive for people to grab their cameras and scan. If you offer an exclusive coupon for accessing the menu digitally, customers will forget about the paper menus even quicker. 

When the brunch rush is in full force and your wait staff is struggling to keep up, a QR code menu can work wonders. If a QR code is already on the table when your guests are seated, you don’t have to worry about getting fresh menus to them right away. Plus, a QR code in the waiting area can let your patrons easily check the menu ahead of time so you can free up tables faster.

Fast casual eateries that have seat-yourself service are perfect candidates for the QR code menu. Customers can enter your restaurant and quickly access your offerings without needing any assistance. Just keep the code on the table and forget about keeping your counter stocked with paper trifolds. It’s one less thing to worry about!

Many restaurant owners have facepalmed after finding a typo or deciding they want to update prices shortly after printing a new set of menus. Once your menu is totally digital, you don’t have to worry about every little tweak you want to make. 

If you’re sharing your menu with a QR code, you can easily update the web version of your menu as often as you’d like without costing you anything or disturbing your business. Plus, it’s much easier to keep your menu fresh and exciting when you can update your daily specials on the fly.

So how do you set up your code?

If you’re wondering how to create a QR code menu, there are several easy ways to get started. 

Use a free QR Code Generator App

Whether you’re using Android or iPhone, do a quick app store search for apps that create QR codes. There are plenty of free options that allow you to simply enter the URL you’d like the code to lead to, and they will generate the code instantly. You may need to pay around $2 if you’re using the code for business as opposed to personal use, but it will definitely pay off.

Try an Online Form Builder

If your restaurant offers online takeout orders, you may want to use an online form builder that can double as an ordering system and a QR code generator. Some online form builders allow you to turn your menu into a QR code, so it’s easy for customers to fill out the order form and for you to track their order. This is especially useful for small restaurants that don’t have a big budget for fancy online ordering software.

Check Your Website’s Hosting Software

Some web hosting software may have a QR code feature built in, and you might not even know it. Do some digging on the website or chat with the customer service team to find out if a unique QR code for your site is included with your website’s hosting package. It might be easier than signing up for an additional service or paying for a totally new app.