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How one restaurant owner successfully adopted a QR code menu

An interview with the owner of Strangers & Saints on how his restaurant moved to mobile menus

Quick response menus became all the rage during the pandemic, which forced restaurant operators to turn to technology to deliver safer mobile menus. 

As the world opened up again, some operators began to return to print menus, citing customer requests and concerns about the dining experience. 

Most, though, say QR codes are here to stay. These operators are keeping their QR menus because of how much they improve the business and customer experience.

Strangers & Saints, a vibrant celebration of sea and family, is one such restaurant. This salty Provincetown tavern, drawing inspiration from the coastal Mediterranean, offers a menu that emphasizes the regional flavors of Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, and Turkey.

Spanish-influenced Olive Oil Poached Shrimp and Garlic at Strangers & Saints

Spanish-influenced Olive Oil Poached Shrimp and Garlic at Strangers & Saints

And it does so through a QR menu.

We spoke with owner Steven Latasa-Nicks about how Strangers & Saints successfully adopted its QR mobile menu so you and other restaurateurs can follow their lead.

Interview about QR menus with Steven Latasa-Nicks of Strangers & Saints

Stellar Menus: Steven, we’ve heard from some restaurant owners that mobile menus take away from the dining experience because people can’t see the whole menu at once. How have diners at Strangers & Saints adapted to your QR menus?

Steven: We get very few complaints. Most customers have adapted well, with about 85% of customers using our QR menus.

Stellar Menus: What about the other 15%? Do you give them paper menus?

Steven: Yes. We have paper menus, but we don’t offer them right away—a customer has to ask for the print menu. If they do ask, we’ll bring one to the table for that customer. We don’t bring paper menus for everyone at the table unless the whole table asks for them. (laughter) We’re not in the business of paper menus.

Stellar Menus: That must save you money, which is one of the benefits of using QR menus.

Steven: Yes, we print the paper menus in black and white on inexpensive paper. When our staff cleans the table, those menus go into the trash rather than back to the host’s stand. 

Stellar Menus: We have a copy of your QR menu here, which does double duty as your business card. That’s clever!

Strangers Saints QR code does double duty as the taverns business card

Strangers & Saints’ QR code does double duty as the tavern’s business card

Steven: Yes! We’re really happy with our QR code business cards. They’re super cheap to print—we pay three cents each for them, much less than we pay for print menus. And now we don’t have to print separate business cards, which is even more savings. Whenever we meet someone, we give them the card. They now have our contact details AND our menu. You can’t do the same with print menus!

Stellar Menus: How do you get your guests to use the QR menus? 

Steven: The host lays the little squares on the table when seating customers, and says, “The menu is available through the QR code; enjoy your stay!” 

Stellar Menus: What if someone’s phone isn’t working? Or if they don’t know how to use the QR code? 

Steven: If someone’s phone isn’t working, or if they’re having connectivity issues, we give them the paper menu. In the early days, we used to train our servers to train costumers on how to use the QR codes. “Open your camera, point it to the code,” and so on. We hardly have to do that anymore as most people know what to do with QR codes. 

Stellar Menus: What do you say to the critics who bemoan the loss of all the menu science that goes into menu creation? Has than been your experience as well?

Steven: Not at all. In fact, it’s the opposite. The menu science says that people like to take in the whole menu at once to get an overview, and then to dive deeper and deeper into the details. And you do get that with a paper menu. The real thing people are bemoaning is not a true quick response menu. Instead, they’re bemoaning the PDF menus that most QR codes deliver! That’s when you lose the menu science.

Stellar Menus: I see. And the QR menu somehow retains the menu science? 

Steven: Yes. When people open our QR menu, they first see the high level details, which is that we offer food, cocktails, wine, and spirits. When they click into food, for example, they’ll see another higher-level menu offering small plates to share, salads to share, bowls and plates to share, and desserts. And when they click into small plates to share, for example, they’ll see all of the menu items, like oysters by the half or full dozen and grilled octopus—which, by the way, is one of our specialties.

Patrons diving into the details of Strangers & Saints’ quick response menu

Patrons diving into the details of Strangers & Saints’ quick response menu

Stellar Menus: Do you have any last words of advice for other restaurant owners thinking about launching QR menus?

Steven: Yes. First, do your research on the various menu management platforms out there. With some, you can’t apply your restaurant’s branding, so your menu looks like everyone else’s, and you lose those little touches that subtly communicate to people how special your restaurant is. The other thing I’d say is to test the entire menu before pushing it live to customers. And train your staff on how to help customers use the menus. Do those things, and you’ll find it’s actually an easy process.

Stellar Menus: Thanks, Steven. We appreciate you taking this time to speak with us about how Strangers & Saints effectively deployed its QR menu.

Steven: My pleasure. Let your readers know that we’re saving a seat for them at Strangers & Saints!

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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.