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Young lady eating a dessert at an outdoor restaurant while also playing with her mobile phone, which sits on the table

Help! When you’re using QR menus but now guests keep phones out on the table

Here’s one way for your staff to deal

Restaurants that use quick response codes and QR menus do so to to make life easier.

Depending on which QR platform you partner with, you’ll enjoy easy menu management—change an item once and that change automatically rolls through to all of your menus. 

Did the price of fish jump? Log in to the platform, and instantly change the price of the dish to reflect the higher cost.

Did you just run out of a popular dish? No problem; 86 it and easily bring it back when it’s available again.

Your QR menu makes customers’ lives easier, too. 

They no longer have to pinch and zoom a tiny PDF menu. 

They can discover and learn about your Wampanoag Gimlet, Barrel-aged Manhattan, and Agave Flights in as much detail as you care to share.

Strangers & Saints mobile QR code menu showing its Wampanoag Gimlet, which has been favorited by a customer; the tavern uses Stellar Menus to power its QR code menu, which also allows customers to favorite dishes and then to review all favorites in one place

Some platforms, like Stellar Menus, even allow customers to {heart} dishes that look promising, and then review those finds all at once as a group; the previous screenshot shows how a diner has favorited the Wampanoag Gimlet.

But the good about QR menus comes with the bad

Although QR menus on phones are great in many ways, there are a few downsides.

Phones on the table detract from the pleasurable social aspects of dining.

You’ve seen and experienced it yourself.

You’re at the table, ready to order, waiting for the server. The conversation is flowing.

Then your phone beeps. You glance down and see a notification that your boss or largest client just messaged you on Slack. You have to look and respond… right now.

This happens over and over for each guest during the meal. Each beep, boop, and notification pulls people out of the conversation and into their heads and devices.

QR menus can also be bad for servers because all those phones on the table—many of them with large screens—gobble up valuable real estate and cause servers to play juggler each time they visit the table.

When patrons keep their phones on the tables, wait staff has trouble juggling dishes and finding room on the table for food; here, a waiter holds two dishes in one hand

Servers put out the water glasses, the beverage glasses, the wine glasses, and the appetizer plates, and suddenly they wonder, “Where will we put the food with all of these phones out?”

Have your servers try this happy-medium solution

Steven Latasa-Nicks, owner of Strangers and Saints, a tavern in Provincetown, Massachusetts, experienced this phones-on-the-table issue in his restaurant, and found a way to get around it.

“At Strangers & Saints, we’ve trained our staff to address the issue when they bring the first dishes to the table,” he says.

“We have them say something like, ‘I think all of you are done looking at the menu? Would you mind putting your phones away so we have room for all the food on the table?’ And everyone picks up their phone and put it out of sight,” Steven says. “No one knows they’re being told to put their phone away.”

And, by the way, you really do need room for the food

Looking down on a full restaurant table packed with dishes, glasses, and silverware, there’s no room left for mobile phones

Although you don’t want people to have to put their phones away, you also don’t want them to take up too much space with their belongings.

Your best bet is finding a happy medium between those two ideals.

A happy medium might look different from one restaurant to another, depending on the size of your tables and number of patrons.

But the medium is there. Find it, and you’ll make your customers and staff happy.

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PDF menus on phones ruin the dining experience.
Switch to a true quick response menu and give guests an experience they’ll love.

PDF menus on phones ruin the dining experience. Switch to a true quick response menu and give guests an experience they’ll love.