Are QR code menus the future of digital menus?


QR codes? Is that something we ever thought would become a staple in our everyday lives? Restaurants across Canada and the US have been making a shift towards digital menus in recent months to ensure safety protocols are met between the restaurant staff and guests, but what does the future hold for contactless QR code menus? While they help overcome a lot of the existing issues with physical menus, such as costs and environmental impacts they also eliminate an aspect of humanity in service; the welcoming exchange between a server and guest, a big reason why people go out to dine in the first place. A lot of why we love going out to restaurants has been reduced, if not Let’s go through how restaurants can use QR code menus in the first place, and some of the advantages they bring to the table.

The dynamics between the waitstaff and guests have certainly shifted over recent months. Of course, face-to-face interaction has been reduced to a minimum, and in many cases, technology has stepped in as the main channel of communication between the guest and the restaurant. It’s a tough thing to wrap your head around and as automation continues to surround us in our daily lives, technology replacing the job of a server is not what either wishes for in a diner setting. However, right now, our choices are limited, and safety protocols have climbed to the top of the priority list when guests are dining out.  

Digital menus, contactless menus, QR code menus, whatever you want to call it,  have taken the centre stage when it comes to ordering, and as we enter a new era of dining out, restaurateurs, chefs, servers, and even guests are wondering if these QR codes are here to stay?

If you’re a restaurant owner and your business has opted for alternative solutions, or if you’re a guest that has cautiously stayed away from public establishments over recent months, let's quickly run through how this contactless technology starts. Beginning with the QR code, a scannable black and white you often see on the back of products, coupons books that lead you to a website or a landing page. They’re efficient because it’s instant. In the case of restaurants, you can place a laminated QR code or a coaster on your table for your guests to scan, bringing up your digital menu. If your restaurant has already implemented digital menus, but don’t have QR codes, place one on your table to speed up your operations. Smartphones have built-in QR code readers in their camera app. The QR code you place on your table can direct your guest to your online menu that you may already have set up on your website, in the form of a PDF menu that resembles your printed version.   

Both Government guidelines and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) protocols have recommended the use of digital menus and other contactless options to limit the spread of covid-19. QR code menus are slowly becoming the norm, in fact, restaurants we’re beginning to experiment with the idea pre-coronavirus in order to cut costs, but what are the other advantages of digital menus? Let's walk through some of them.

Safer Experience For Everyone

This is the obvious advantage of digital menus. They allow guests and restaurant staff to stay 6 feet apart. Something we never thought would have to happen in a restaurant setting, where we're so used to be being packed like sardines. However, it needs to happen right now. On top of ensuring a contactless experience, QR codes and website-powered ordering make it much easier to obtain contact tracing information. Many places have been recording contact information when guests walk in, or they'll have a staff member walk around with a clipboard to obtain this info. By placing a QR code on your table, you can prompt your guest for their information as well as a health survey before directing them to your menu.

Digital Menus are Environmentally Sustainable

Pre-pandemic, it's likely that you were printing hundreds, if not thousands of menus a year for your tables. Drink spills, food stains, seasonal changes, specials, new wines. One small mistake or update can call for a reprint. There will always be something special about holding a tangible menu. They're personal, visually appealing, and in general, add some humanity to the ordering experience. However, contactless ordering, via digital menus is a much more eco-friendly approach, and it can save you a lot of money in the long run. The removal of physical menu salso results in fewer items you have to wash and sanitize.

Easier to Make Changes on the Fly

Chefs and restaurant owners often have to think twice about printing because of costs and paper waste. The advantage of digital menus is that you don't have to think twice. In fact, you can make changes on the fly, so that when you run out of a certain menu item, or want to add a daily special, you don't have to convey that to all of your guests. It's tedious. Sociavore's digital menus allow you to add, change, or remove menu items on your menu in seconds. If you're content with the PDF menu that you've been printing, you can instead direct your guests to that document using QR codes, but once again it limits you when it comes to changes.  

Inhibits Creativity

Remember that digital menus are an extension of your brand. You want to ensure you're still providing the same visual experience for your guests as if you were giving them a physical menu. Sociavore's digital menus provide you with the creative freedom to showcase your brand and delivery genuine hospitality. It's a great opportunity to show your customers that you're going above and beyond to provide them with a memorable experience. Add in your logos, colours, fonts, photos, graphics and more into your menus. If you're looking for some inspiration, below is a bright example of El Catrin's contactless ordering menu. They've managed to create an enjoyable ordering experience, without compromising the essence of their brand.


It goes without saying that the removal of a physical menu from a restaurant is not what restaurant owners want to do. There’s a particular charm about receiving a menu when you sit down at a table. Let's get one or two of the disadvantages out of the way. For starters, not everyone has a smartphone, or access to data, so there are already limitations from the start in terms of accessibility. Secondly, not everyone is tech-savvy. Scanning a QR code and ordering from a web-based menu can sound intimidating. We've been fortunate enough to experience friendly staff over recent months who have been helpful in guiding guests through the new ordering process. Table instructions are suggested as well to create a smooth ordering experience!

Where do I place my QR Codes?

A lof these methods, of course, require printing, however, you'll only need to do it once.

  1. Posters near the entrance
  2. Tabletop inserts / table tents
  3. Coasters / flyers
  4. Curbside signs

How to Build Your Own QR Code Menu With Sociavore

  1. Open the desired menu up on your website browser.
  2. Copy (CTRL+C) the menu URL from the address bar. If you’re a Sociavore customer, you can obtain it from your Sociavore Dashboard.
  3. Plug the URL into our free QR code generator.
  4. Download the QR code and print physical copies which can be placed on to a poster or anywhere on the table.
  5. Guests will scan the QR code on the table with their iPhone or Android, pulling up the menu.

QR code menus are ideal for restaurants, breweries, cafes, and a variety of food & beverage based businesses. They will make ordering much more convenient for your guests while ensuring safety protocols are met. No apps are required, all they need is a smartphone camera to access your menus. If you're interested in learning more about your restaurant can improve your contactless operations, click here, and if you're keen on learning more about the future of restaurant menus, don't hesitate to reach out to our team, we'd love to chat and hear your thoughts!

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