Here for the QR codes?
Now that the New York Times has verified my self-declared expert status, I’d love to tell you (a lot!) more.
By way of introduction, I’m Kristen and I’ve been covering the restaurant technology industry for over a decade. I’m most interested how new technology affects the guest experience and what this all means for the future of hospitality. If you’re into that too, please consider subscribing. Free subscribers receive one post per week; paid subscribers get at least two including exclusive interviews and columns.
I joke that I’ve never been asked about one piece of restaurant technology more than QR codes in the decade I’ve covered the industry. (Now, even the New York Times has asked!) It’s funny because it’s true; I can’t think of a more divisive concept. (Not even ghost kitchens, though they’re a close second.)
While codes that provided a shortcut to menus and even ordering felt (mostly) fine during the strange early pandemic days, they’ve moved squarely into begrudgingly tolerated territory. Still, plenty of restaurants and bars use them, including the one I visited last night during the restaurant show in Chicago.
Clearly, they’re still on our minds, evoking some… strong emotion every time we see one. If a restaurant is using a QR code, there’s a reason. But if it’s too much to handle, just ask for the paper menu. The future of hospitality is still hospitable.
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Here’s more about the relatively brief and decidedly hated history of the Covid-era restaurant QR code, as I wrote it:
The triumphant return of the QR code — Expedite, June 2020
Restaurants and diners adapt to the once-scorned QR code as they embrace a new touchless reality — Insider, August 2020
Tech CEO says QR codes will become the new normal, well beyond Covid — Insider, August 2020
In defense of the maligned QR code — Expedite, June 2022
How scannable QR codes can make restaurants better — Food & Wine, July 2022
Parisians hate QR codes too — Expedite, October 2022