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When the COVID pandemic struck, there were many reasons to be thankful that we live in a modern age. From Zoom meetings and FaceTime communication with loved ones on the personal side, to takeaway ordering and digital menus within the industry, we found ways to navigate pandemic-related challenges and keep life moving. 

The restaurant industry, in particular, made digital strides with the development of new ordering systems, ghost kitchens, and, especially convenient when restaurants re-opened for in-person dining, QR codes for HTML menus. Even as restaurants began to re-expand their capacity this year, QR codes for menus proved an effective way to ease staffing demands by limiting menu sanitization; to carve out space in the budget by reducing printing costs; and creating a modern system for menu updates, specials, and other such on-the-fly communications for restaurants.

As easy as it made things in these areas, it seems that the guests have spoken—and they prefer the paper menus. According to NRN’s article about BJ’s physical menus, the restaurant chain has reason to believe that returning to paper menus is actually making them more money.

“Greg Levin, CEO and president of the Huntington Beach, Calif.-based casual-dining chain, said Thursday in a third-quarter earnings conference call that the physical menu is worth about 70 cents more per average check than the QR versions,” the article reported.

According to Levin, this really has to do with the guest experience more than anything. One of the things we heard from our guests is they love having a physical menu,” Levin said. I think we were all really excited to get the HTML menus, because we were going to eliminate printing costs and so forth. But we’ve seen our guests like a physical menu.”

These are the moments when it is important to remember for whom the restaurant and hospitality industries exist. Guest feedback and their overall experiences are the most important factors when it comes to making operations adjustments.  

Richard Weil, principal and owner of National Restaurant Consultants, confirms what BJ’s and other restauranteurs are experiencing.  “Guests are wanting to return to a more familiar setting, looking for what was normal to them pre-pandemic,” he says. “One of the most important pieces of four-walls marketing is the menu, and it’s the best way to communicate with your guests. Don’t just dust off your old menu, but take this chance to really hit the mark with what’s new.”

Our restaurant consultants have spent decades fine-tuning menus and the guest experience in many different types of restaurants. Working with a restaurant consultant to streamline your processes with your guests in mind can make all the difference in their feedback—and your bottom line.

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