Restaurants ditch ‘annoying’ menu trend after backlash: ‘We were starting to alienate people’

Good news for the majority of Americans who despise them – restaurants are increasingly getting rid of QR codes to access menus on smartphones.

Enough customers have complained about scanning the black and white squares to get food choices that restaurants are going back to paper menus.

The world, very briefly, fell in love with QR codes during the pandemic when paper or plastic menus were seen as a risk for spreading Covid.

Hospitality bosses loved the idea as it cut costs and, in more high-tech restaurants, allowed them to get orders without a server taking the details.

Diners briefly liked the novelty but soon tired of squinting at hard to read food and drink options on smartphone screens.

Physical menus are making a comeback

Physical menus are making a comeback

Others worried about privacy – were the technology firms running the QR code technology snooping on their phone?

Some, particularly seniors, had trouble using the camera to can the code and then if they did more problems navigating a digital menu.

Then there was the view they were tacky, especially in more upscale eateries.

As a result, customers began to revolt. They complained to restaurants directly and took to social media.

Some voted with their wallets. For example, Oz du Soleil walked out of a Las Vegas restaurant because of the QR code menu.

He told the Wall Street Journal that it felt too much like work navigating the QR menu on his phone – plus he worried about privacy.

‘It’s like self-checkout or putting your own IKEA stuff together,’ the 59-year-old software trainer said.

As a result of the complaints, sit-down restaurants are returning to paper menus.

Some are using both – where QR codes play a secondary role and offer extra information about the menu or payment options.

‘In the restaurant industry, the QR code menu is seen as a little bit tacky,’ says Teddie King, director of operations at Zuma,

The Japanese, restaurant chain with four US ocations, stopped using QR code menus two years ago.

Rich Fox, operating owner of Yes Parade Restaurant Group in Seattle, told the WSJ that menus accessed just on phones make it easier to change prices or menu items.

Yet he concedes the codes irritate customers – and servers.

Check values dipped ten per cent because diners ddn’t scroll through the entire menu. It’s much easier to glance up and down a paper menu or flip them over.

Some restaurants have both a physical menu and one accesses via a QR code

Some restaurants have both a physical menu and one accesses via a QR code

QR code menus also annoy servers. Customers order less so they get lower tips

QR code menus also annoy servers. Customers order less so they get lower tips

That lower check amount hit tips for staff.

In New York, John Fraser Restaurants has moved entirely away from digital menus intis upscale restaurants, but still uses them in the less formal eateries.

And Nami Nori Japanese restaurants in New Jersey and New York is relaunching printed menus.

QR, which stands for ‘quick response,’ are machine-readable codes of black and white squares that store URLs, payment options and other online services accessed by a smartphone camera.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned Americans about QR code scams infiltrating restaurants, airports, sporting events and retail sto

However, thieves are designing fake codes that redirect users to fraudulent websites, allowing them to harvest data, take control of smartphones or steal money.