Have popular restaurants ditched this staple for the foreseeable future?

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Popular restaurants are navigating a new normal, but did anyone see this change coming?

What are your favorite popular restaurants? From quick service restaurants to sit-down restaurants, dining out looks quite different. Besides the social distancing and wearing face masks, one big change seems to have happened to many restaurants. Did you predict this change?

After sitting down at a table, there is often a few leisurely moments to browse the menu. Whether it is a small book like The Cheesecake Factory menu or a sampling of signature dishes, that menu has been a restaurant staple. But, given today’s current environment, that menu seems to have changed or even disappeared.

Many restaurants have ditched the traditional menu. While some locations have gone to a single use, paper option, that idea might not be the most environmentally friendly. After everyone fought hard to ditch the plastic straw, it seems disingenuous to waste all that paper.

Given a restaurant’s wish to minimize contact, the paper menu is an option. Truthfully, there are many restaurants that only use paper menus. But, for the people who stare at the menu pictures, some paper menus don’t hold the same appeal. Unless there is an amazing menu description, that simple, plain paper menu can lessen the anticipation for the meal.

While the paper menu is convenient, many popular restaurants are turning to a different option. Recently, many restaurants have started to use an electronic menu and even a mobile ordering system.

For example, some restaurants are asking diners to scan a QR code with their mobile device. This option brings the menu, with all its pictures and descriptions, to the diners’ directly. While this option had its advantages, it has disadvantages, too.

Although many younger guests have no issues navigating these types of mobile menus, some older diners might have more difficulty. Additionally, this option might alienate diners who do not have a smartphone or who would prefer not to use their data plan to access the menu. Sometimes technology is not always the easiest choice.

Still, the mobile menu expands the potential of mobile ordering. Many people like the idea of placing a food order by pushing a few buttons. With all the popularity of food delivery services, people are getting more adept at online ordering.

Although these changes might be in response to current conditions, it will be interesting to see if the popular restaurants make these items permanent. As seen with streamlined menus, take-out options and even grocery services, restaurants have learned that pivoting is the new normal.

What is next for popular restaurants? Given today’s constantly changing landscape, nothing is predictable.

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Do you want the traditional restaurant menu to return? What other restaurant staples have you seen change recently?