On paper or on your cell: how do you want your menu?
The pandemic has led more and more restaurants to put aside the printed menu to favor the one that appears on our cellphones thanks to the scanning of a QR code. Is this a practice that is here to stay?
This change in habit was aimed above all at limiting physical contact between customers and staff as a health precaution. But it also allows him to save steps, subtracting a step in the service. Let's say that in a context of labor shortage, this is not nothing.
An ecological issue?
At the same time, restaurant owners have been able to save on menu printing and laminating costs and reduce their environmental footprint in the process.
François Pageau, restaurant expert and management professor at the Institut de tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), is not convinced, however, that environmental concerns will drive an eventual menu transition. widespread paper to digital.
“Restaurant menus aren't going to decimate Canada's forests.”
Establishments that change menus regularly favor slate display or even oral explanation over reprinting, he says.
Menu printing may not be the number one environmental threat in the restaurant business, agrees Anne-Marie Asselin, co-founder of the Blue Organization, an environmental conservation organization. However, she believes that “on a planet of ever-changing limited capacity, one should always be looking for ways to use fewer resources.”
She says the challenge of Residual materials management is much more of a concern today in the restaurant industry. Why? Because most food and even recyclable materials go in the trash, she laments.
The techno attraction
Apart from health reasons (which are likely to haunt us for some time to come), François Pageau believes that the main attraction of digital menus is the technological experience.
This is a practice that already existed before the pandemic, he also points out. Addresses like the Crew Collective & Café à Montréal goes further than simply scanning the QR code by allowing customers to order and pay directly with their cell phone. The waiter just comes and brings the order without having to write it down first.
Mr. Pageau also appreciates the ability to update quickly. More squid tonight? In two or three clicks, you remove it from the map.
Towards a cohabitation
However, the printed menu is far from dead, thinks Martin Vézina, vice-president of public and governmental affairs at the Association Restauration Québec.
“The choice will depend on the managers and the clientele of each of the restaurants. Maybe the places frequented by a younger clientele will favor digital [even after the pandemic], but there will always have to be a printed menu in support for people who do not have a smartphone or are not not comfortable with technology.”
Anne-Marie of the Blue Organization agrees with Mr. Vézina, but favors the digital transition.
“We live in a rapidly changing world, in which we are called upon to adapt just as quickly. We must mourn the romanticism of the past since there are now environmental, health and societal considerations to take into account. It's destabilizing, of course, since [the digital transition] comes with a certain dependence on technology, but why not do it if we can simplify people's lives?”