Apr 13, 2023 - Food and Drink

Detroit loathes QR codes at restaurants

Illustration of the Detroit skyline with word balloons with exclamation points in them popping up above it from left to right.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Restaurants going with paperless menus appear to be a pandemic-era trend that's here to stay.

  • So we asked our dear readers to weigh in on replacing traditional paper menus with QR codes that link to digital ones.

You mostly responded with a resounding wave of hatred, calling them "ridiculous" and saying they result in your eyes being glued to a screen instead of those of your dining compatriot(s).

Yes, but: Some folks have good reasons they should stick around.

Here are some of your thoughts:

Paula T.: "They ruin the dining experience by making me connect to the cellphone I want to lose while I enjoy company and food. I too am a person who avoids restaurants that use a QR-coded menu."

Danielle C.: "As someone who's legally blind, reading physical menus is a challenge. From an accessibility perspective, assuming the website or document is optimized, it makes the menu significantly easier to access for disabled people. But, I feel like having both could be a good option. I don't really want this going away."

Jim S.: "They must be hell for older customers who are just not that good with technology."

Jake M.: "It's a major missed opportunity for restaurants to impress customers with their branding and style choices — from paper quality to menu holders. If that's too costly, restaurants should at least try to get creative with their QR codes. The only QR codes I've really been impressed by are at BARDA, which are glazed into several of the tiles surrounding the bar pit."

Matt F.: "The biggest downside of QR menus is the phone factor. One of the joys of dining out is getting to put the phone away while enjoying actual conversation. But when the menu requires a phone, it comes out and often stays out, providing distraction throughout."

BJ T.: "Yay on QR menus for me. Major bonus points if you can place your order and pay right on your phone and they just bring the food/drinks out to the table. Fewer interruptions from wait staff and no more wondering where they disappeared to when you want to order another drink."


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