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Restaurant QR Codes: The Pros and Cons

January 22, 2024 8 min
Senior Content Manager at Eat App
Reviewed by
Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

Restaurant QR codes have become a common sight in recent years, as they offer a number of advantages for both diners and restaurants.

QR codes allow diners to access menus, place orders, and pay bills without having to interact with waitstaff, which can help reduce the spread of germs.

They can also be used to provide diners with additional information about the food, such as nutritional content or allergy warnings.

But are QR codes good for the restaurant industry?

Others argue that they are bad for the industry, as they can exclude diners who do not have smartphones or who have visual or dexterity impairments.

  • “QR menus are a problem for those with visual, auditory, or dexterity impairments, and they exclude those who can’t afford or otherwise choose not to carry a smartphone,” says author and educator, Travers Scott. 

Ultimately, whether or not QR codes are good for the restaurant industry is a matter of debate.

In this blog, we will take a look at the pros and cons of QR codes so that restaurant staff and owners can make an informed decision about whether or not to use them.

How are QR codes used in restaurants?

Restaurant QR codes are not just for contactless ordering and menus. Food service venues are also using them for a variety of other purposes, such as:

1. Links on the menu

Restaurants that use QR codes to replace physical menus typically place the codes on tables, either as a sticker or a table tent. Diners can scan the codes with their phones to open a digital menu.

Some restaurants link their QR codes to a simple online menu, where diners can browse the menu and then order food from a server.

Others link their QR codes to an interactive contactless mobile ordering system, where diners can place and pay for orders directly from their phones. The contactless menu eliminates the need for diners to interact with a server at all.

QR codes to replace physical menus

2. Online waitlists

QR codes can be used to create virtual waitlists for restaurants. When walk-in guests see a waitlist QR code, they can scan it to join the list and provide their contact information, party details, and dietary restrictions.

They can also browse the restaurant menu themselves, see their wait time, and upgrade their table, all from their phones. Virtual waitlist software like Eat App makes it easy for restaurants to manage their waitlists.

>>> Want to know more about Eat App's waitlist feature? Request a demo today! 

Restaurants can track the number of guests on the waitlist, the estimated wait time, and the status of each guest's reservation. They can also send text message notifications to guests when their table is ready.

Virtual waitlists can help restaurants to improve the dining experience for their customers. They can reduce the amount of time that customers have to wait for a table, and they can also provide restaurant customers with a more convenient way to manage their reservations.

3. Review the presenters

QR codes can be used on check presenters to encourage diners to take action, such as signing up for a newsletter or loyalty program, taking a post-meal survey, or leaving a review online.

This is a great way to collect customer feedback and stay connected with diners after they have left the restaurant. It can also help to encourage diners to return and spend more money.

Related content: How to get more 5-star reviews on Google

Eat App guest review system

Here are some specific examples of how QR codes can be used on check presenters:

  • Sign up for their newsletter or loyalty program. This can help restaurants to stay in touch with their customers and promote special offers.

  • Take a post-meal survey. This can help restaurants to collect feedback from their customers and improve their offerings.

  • Review the restaurant online. This can help restaurants to attract new customers and boost their online reputation.

>>> Find out more about Eat App’s review suite here.

4. Promotional posters

Restaurants can use QR codes on promotional posters in high-traffic areas to promote their business and connect with customers.

For example, they can use QR codes to sell tickets for special events, promote their email list, advertise their social media handles, offer discounts or coupons, or provide more information about the restaurant.

Benefits of restaurant QR codes

Here are some of the reasons why QR codes are appealing to restaurants:

They reduce printing and paper costs

Restaurant QR code menus can help restaurants save money on printing costs. According to restaurateur John McDonald of Mercer Street Hospitality, medium-sized restaurants can save an average of \$5,000 per year by switching from paper menus to digital menus.

This is because contactless QR code menus do not require printed materials, such as paper menus. Restaurants can simply create a digital menu and post the QR code on their website or social media pages. Diners can then scan the code with their smartphones to view the digital menu themselves.

QR codes reduce printing and paper costs

Menus are constantly updated

Restaurant QR code menus can be linked to a restaurant's POS system to make quick and easy menu updates. This can help improve inventory management and ensure diners always have access to the most up-to-date menu information.

Here are some additional benefits of using QR code menus:

  • Improved customer experience: Restaurant QR code menus can provide a more convenient and contactless dining experience.

  • Increased marketing opportunities: QR code menus can be used to collect customer data and track customer behavior.

  • Reduced costs: QR code menus can help restaurants save money on printing and distribution costs.

>>> Find out more about Eat App's POS integration here.

QR codes help improve the guest experience

QR codes can help restaurants improve efficiency by allowing guests to place orders directly from their smartphones. This frees up staff to focus on other tasks and gives guests more control over their dining experience.

Here are some specific examples:

  • Order taking: QR code menus allow guests to place orders without waiting for a waiter or waitress.

  • Payment: QR code menus can also be used to process payments.

  • Table management: QR code menus can be used to assign tables to guests, track the status of orders, and send reminders to guests when their food is ready.

QR codes improve the guest experience

QR are contactless

QR codes became popular during the pandemic because they are contactless and can be used to order, get on the waitlist, or pay from a distance.

Here are some of the benefits of using QR codes in restaurants:

  • Reduced contact: QR codes can help to reduce contact between diners and staff.

  • Convenience: QR codes allow diners to order and pay for their food without having to interact with waitstaff.

  • Efficiency: QR codes can help restaurants improve efficiency by freeing up staff to focus on other tasks.

  • Marketing: QR codes can be used to promote special offers or events.

Guest information is digitized

QR codes can be used to collect customer emails for your mailing list.

This is a more efficient and accurate way to collect customer emails than manually entering them into a spreadsheet or CRM system. You can also scale up your email list by adding more QR codes to your marketing materials.

The cons of restaurant QR codes

Before employing QR codes in your restaurant, think about these possible cons.

QR codes can put off your less tech-savvy visitors

While smartphones are becoming increasingly common, not everyone has one. Before going 100% digital with QR codes, consider retaining some manual methods, such as printed menus, paper waitlists, and loyalty cards.

Here are some additional things to consider:

  • Your target audience: Who are your typical customers? Are they likely to have smartphones?

  • Your budget: How much money are you willing to spend on implementing and maintaining a QR code system?

  • Your staff's comfort level: Are your staff comfortable using QR codes?

  • Your restaurant's layout: Is your restaurant set up in a way that makes it easy for diners to scan QR codes?

Related content: Best questions to ask in a restaurant survey

QR codes might impact your restaurant’s personal touch

Removing human interactions from the waitlist or ordering process can feel impersonal, so QR codes may not be suitable for all restaurants.

For example, fine dining restaurants may use QR codes in a less visible way than casual restaurants to preserve their hospitality standards.

  • “Dining out should be carefree and fun. QR codes kill the mood and turn what should be a pleasant experience into a chore,” says New York-based communications consultant Rachel Antman, who likes to dine out frequently.

QR codes might impact your restaurant’s personal touch

Menu QR codes compromise privacy

Customers who scan QR codes may share their data with the QR code generator, which could then sell that data to third-party companies.

This is because the QR code generator can track the information that is scanned, such as the user's IP address, device information, and the time and date of the scan.

Here are some ways to mitigate the risk of data sharing when using QR codes:

  • Use a reputable QR code generator that has a privacy policy that you agree with.
  • Only scan QR codes from trusted sources.
  • Be aware of the permissions that you are granting when you scan a QR code.
  • Use a VPN to encrypt your traffic and protect your privacy.

It is important to be aware of the potential risks of data sharing when using QR codes.

By taking steps to mitigate these risks, you can help to protect your privacy.

Security risks can affect QR codes

Hackers can use QR codes to share malicious apps, access victims' virtual wallets, and carry out phishing attacks.

To protect yourself, only scan QR codes from trusted sources, be suspicious of QR codes that you receive in unsolicited messages or emails, and do not scan QR codes that take you to websites that you do not trust.

Security risks can affect QR codes

QR codes make using phones necessary for dining out

There is a debate about the use of phones at the table. Some people think it is rude and prefer to focus on the dining experience, while others use their phones to take pictures of food or stay connected with friends and family.

For example, the French Laundry, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Napa Valley, California, has a strict policy against cell phone use at the table.

Guests are asked to put their phones away when they are seated and are not permitted to use them during their meal. The restaurant's owner, Thomas Keller, believes that cell phones can be a distraction and that they can take away from the dining experience.

Guests might spend less

John McDonald found that customers spent 20% less when ordering from QR code menus than from paper menus. This could be because QR code menus make it easier to compare prices and make informed decisions.

  • “I cannot imagine any savings that would convince anyone to want to just do code and not the physical reading of a properly designed, in-hand menu,” says John McDonald.

Do QR codes make sense for your restaurant?

Don't use QR codes just because they're popular. It's important to consider your restaurant's service style and clientele before making a decision.

For example, QR code ordering may be more suitable for casual restaurants than fine dining restaurants, as it can limit important hospitality touchpoints.

Using QR codes doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing decision. You could keep paper menus and use QR codes for other purposes, such as joining a waitlist.

Create a thoughtful QR code strategy for your restaurant.

And, if you thinking of increasing your positive Google reviews, check out Eat App’s' Guest Review feature.

It can help you improve your guest experience. Request a demo today.


Frequently asked questions about restaurant QR codes

What are QR codes for restaurants?

Restaurant QR codes are scannable codes that can be used to access digital menus, place orders, and pay bills. They became popular during the pandemic as a way to reduce contact between diners and staff.

How do I get a QR code for my restaurant?

  1. Sign up to Eat App - it’s free. Visit and go to the "Features" tab.
  2. Select "Guest reviews" and navigate to the "Review at table" section.
  3. Set your QR Code description by entering concise and engaging text.
  4. Download the QR Codes generated by the system.
  5. Print the QR Codes on stickers, coasters, or table tents and place them on the respective tables for guests to scan.

Are QR codes good for restaurants?

Customers can examine the menu, place orders, and pay for their meals fast and conveniently with QR code menus without speaking to a waitress. Restaurants can serve more guests in less time as a result of shorter wait times.

Do people like QR codes at restaurants?

According to Kristen Hawley, the creator of the restaurant technology magazine Expedite, "they are almost universally despised." During the epidemic, QR-code menus proliferated in eateries, allowing consumers to read menus, place orders, pay, and tip all at once.

How do menu QR Codes for restaurants work?

The use of QR menus is relatively simple. Customers must use the camera on their phone to scan the code, which takes them to the restaurant's digital menu. For customers to locate what they're looking for easily, these menus can feature images, descriptions, and prices for each item.

Do my guests need an app to scan the QR Code menu?

No, when customers scan the QR code with their phone's camera, the menu instantly loads.

Is it free to create QR Code menus using Beaconstac as a generator?

Yes. You can generate QR Codes without charge using Beaconstac's QR Code solution. You have the option of creating a static QR Code for free or starting a free 14-day trial to create dynamic QR Codes.

How to scan a menu QR Code at a restaurant with an Android ?

  1. Launch the Google app.
  2. Then, press the Google Lens symbol to the right of the search field.
  3. Publish your camera to Google Lens.
  4. Your back camera should be pointed towards the QR code.
  5. A preview of the information will show once Google has finished decoding the code.


Senior Content Manager at Eat App

Elana Kroon used to work in restaurants before becoming a journalist and expert restaurant industry content creator at Eat App.

Reviewed by

Nezar Kadhem

Nezar Kadhem

Co-founder and CEO of Eat App

He is a regular speaker and panelist at industry events, contributing on topics such as digital transformation in the hospitality industry, revenue channel optimization and dine-in experience.

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