QR Coded Menus:
What you need to know

(plus best practices)

Covid-19 mandated ‘single use’ menus are costly and wasteful. Restaurants and bars across the industry are turning to QR Codes that are linked to digital menus and contain the menu exploration experience on your guest’s smartphones.

Best parts? They’re easy to create, safe to display, and most smart phone cameras will automatically read QR codes without a specialized app, making this an easy solution for customers to view your menu.

The generation of a QR Code is as easy as Googling “Free QR Code generator”, pasting a web address in a field, and downloading the created image. The potential challenges come from how and where your menu is digitized and housed.

A QR Code is basically a web address (URL) represented as a patterned picture. A smartphone will read the pattern and translate it into a direct link. In short, a menu needs to have a web address in order to be called up on your guests’ phone.

There are three main methods to achieve a QR Coded menu solution, ordered by best to worst case scenario:

Best Method

A “Menu” section on your website that has your menu listed as part of the site (NOT a link to a picture or PDF version - more on that next).

If you already have a website created, many website platforms have menu widgets you can add to create your digital menu. From supply chain, to scarce inventory, the moving goalpost of regulations, or the need to adjust pricing; most menus are needing weekly - or daily - revisions. With this format, when you update your menu, the webpage automatically updates. This means that you can create one QR code to go to this page, and you’re good to go. You don’t need to regenerate a new code each time the page is updated. Once you have your menu created, you can drop that link into the QR code creator.

Be sure that your website is designed to be responsive. Your webpage hosted menu will adjust to the magnification settings and size of the guest’s device. This will also allow for the menu to be read aloud by the phones of sight impaired individuals.

Your online menu can also provide you with more marketing opportunities, such as driving traffic to your site, strategic calls-to-action, customer connectivity, and increases your SEO over time.

If you’re able to follow this method, do it for no other reason than to avoid tomorrow’s problem; menus represented by pictures or pdf will live in the nooks and crannies of the internet forever, opening up for the very real potential of some outdated version of your menu finding its way to a future customer.

Good Method

You’ve got a website or other alternative that you can upload a digital copy of your menu to. Once the menu is uploaded to your site, use that locations URL web address to connect to a QR Code.

While this method won’t offer you or your guests the ideal experience and options outlined previously, there are still some aspects you can optimize:

• Use a high contrast color scheme (black font over white)

• Clearly define your menu categories (appetizers, salad, entrée, etc.) using bolded and larger font

• Ensure the font in use is larger (12-16 point) and is of the san serif type: this will be far more legible on a smaller screen

Bare Minimum Method

Use a QR Code generation service that will host your menu’s image or pdf as part of the QR Coding. QR Tiger [https://www.qrcode-tiger.com/] is one website that will provide this service, but be sure to go simple on your design, there is a low file size limit.

Acceptable Hacks

Use an established internet proxy to host your menu’s image or pdf. This isn’t ideal, it’s out of your control and can be slower to update, but they’re doable.

• Post good quality images of your menu in a Facebook post. Each post has its own unique web address that you can QR Code. Be sure to use the “Pin to top of page” option so it is easily accessible and doesn’t get lost in your posts.

• Claim your business on a menu hosting site such as www.allmenus.com or a review site like Yelp. Then update your menu.

If you don’t have a website (but want one)

Creating a website that is simple and functional isn’t hard and won’t break the bank. There are several good to great online website building services. We recommend Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress. These and the other providers have restaurant templates you can modify to suit your needs and aesthetic tastes.

This method of website creation and web address hosting should cost around $150-$250 per year. Some, like Wix, even have some free options you can utilize to create a simple webpage just for hosting your menu. Andy Cook on the Harbor Foodservice Solutions team is a fantastic resource to help you get your website established.

If you have questions about how to set up a website or create a QR code, the Harbor Foodservice Solutions Team is here to help you. Contact Andy Cook at andy.cook@harborfoods for any questions.