Apr 24, 2023 - Business

Most Chicagoans hate QR code menus, but some say they're here to stay

Illustration of the back of a smart phone with a knife and fork on either side of the camera lens, as if the lens were a plate.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As other remnants of the pandemic fade away, lots of Chicagoans want QR code menus to disappear, too.

What's happening: Axios Chicago asked readers what they think about the trend, and we received an overwhelming response of hatred for it.

  • "Not only do I despise them, I actively avoid restaurants that employ them," reader Dean R. told us.

Why it matters: Lots of restaurants are retaining the practice for reasons ranging from curtailing printing fees to menu flexibility.

What they're saying: "QR codes allow restaurants one way to more efficiently service customers," Sam Toia, CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, tells Axios.

  • "They provide the industry with a vehicle to better adjust to changes in availability and supply, while they also highlight specials."

Yes, but: Restaurateurs like Boka Restaurant Group's Kevin Boehm says his places, which include Boka, Girl & the Goat, and Momotaro, have happily ditched QR codes.

  • "I don't think they're hospitable," he tells Axios. "They're difficult to navigate sometimes, and people like holding something in their hands."

Between the lines: Though most readers were vehemently against them, some were on the fence or even pro-QR.

  • "Thumbs up for QR menus," wrote Paula M. "They are environmentally friendly, germ-free and allow more flexibility for chefs/restaurants to creatively change their menus if desired."

What we're watching: Toia at the IRA doesn't see the pandemic practice going away soon.

  • "Most restaurants will continue to offer a traditional menu, but QR codes as an option are here to stay."

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