Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Bring back menus, QR codes are terrible (slate.com)
527 points by prostoalex 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 710 comments

When they work well, they're really good, but when they work badly, they're _really_ bad.

The other week, I went for dinner at a place that had a online ordering system. My experience was as follows...

Arrive at the table, scan the QR code

No phone signal in the restaurant, so I need to connect to the wifi.

Connect to the wifi, get a captive portal

Need to put my phone number in to connect to the wifi; there is no signal, so I need to go outside, to receieve the confirmation code.

Connected to the wifi, scan the code again, choose my food.

Go to pay, need to register an account

Put my email address in, I already have an account on this food ordering service!?

Do a password reset

Put in my credit card details (why not use apple pay?).

This whole time, we're sat at a table, in theory to meet friends, but we've spent the first 15 minutes all glued to our phones!

> Connect to the wifi, get a captive portal

> Need to put my phone number in to connect to the wifi; there is no signal, so I need to go outside, to receieve the confirmation code.

Somewhere around these steps is where I would leave. It’s the equivalent of sitting at a table for 15 minutes waiting for the waiter to give my group menus[1] - they don’t want me as their guest.

[1] It happened, both the waiting and the leaving before ever getting menus. That restaurant taught me that if the service is bad before even ordering the food one shouldn’t be afraid to leave.

I fully agree with the addition that personal interaction can make waiting for 15 minutes acceptable if a reasonable explanation is given. I can accept that something has gone wrong if somebody feels responsible and apologizes for the mishap. It might even develop into an occasion for a welcome chat with restaurant staff. For instance, I recently visited a newly opened restaurant at its 2nd day where we had to wait for the food very long. The server apologized and talked about the challenges they've encountered, and gave us a free soup with bread. This can still be annoying if you are in a hurry. However, we were not and so it gave us the opportunity to get in touch with the new staff, increasing the likelihood of us going back there.

In a non-personal QR code setup, on the other hand, responsibility is shifted to some bureaucratic process which is nothing but frustrating.

As noted in the article, most/many people do not go out for diner to quickly buy and consume a meal, but to spend nice time with people. 15 minutes waiting time spent chatting with a waiter or with each other even has the potential to contribute to a positive experience, whereas 15 minutes setting up your smartphone definitely does not.

> I fully agree with the addition that personal interaction can make waiting for 15 minutes acceptable if a reasonable explanation is given.

Absolutely. In this case however, there were multiple waiters refusing eye contact while passing right by our table and there were also other tables right by ours that got there after us and was being taken care of. It was as if we weren’t there.

> Absolutely. In this case however, there were multiple waiters refusing eye contact while passing right by our table and there were also other tables right by ours that got there after us and was being taken care of. It was as if we weren’t there.

I would just leave to be honest

Toxic culture with no team work. You were in someone else's section. You weren't in a restaurant but at a feeding trough.

I do that the instant they don't have physical menus. Saves a lot of stress.

Agreed, technology doesn't need to be everywhere. Id be happy with a couple of chalk boards that can be moved around.

I think your equivalence to sitting at the table and waiting 15 mins for the menu is key. If any audience - say less tech literate - struggles to get the menu up for longer than they would wait to receive a menu from a waiter, then its not worth it, and something needs to change.

On the general topic of "technology in restaurants", I've noticed an increasing number of restaurants where the waitstaff uses phones/tablets with some kind of specialized app. This happens often: we start telling them our order, and they have to say "wait a sec.... (taps phone for several seconds) okay what was that?". The "UX" as a patron is pretty bad compared to the waitstaff just whipping out a notepad and scribbling as we order, or better yet memorizing the orders.

My biggest cheapskate-old-man gripe is how the UX as you said is systemically deteriorating in restaurants yet the tip expectations have creeped up from 15% standard to now 25% default. And, all apps that compute tip % or recommended tip amounts tip on top of tax, which really irks me as just a dark pattern to rip off patrons and inflate the tip amount. This is US tipping culture at absolute worse.

I hold at 15% standard. Yet, many apps have defaults for 18%, 20%, 22%... all way up to 30% from what I've seen. And, they allow me to "Custom Tip" which I do once I find it (it's usually small and text instead of a button like the presets). However, once you select custom I'm back into dollars instead of percents so I have to do the math myself (and I don't even remember what the total was by this screen). At this point, I'm feeling like "okay you just don't want my money then because I'm not a whale of a tipper" so I have as some act of defiance started just skipping it altogether. I know it's not fair for that server but it's what little I can do to voice my dissent of the system.

You're not really voicing your dissent at that point. The server gets no tip and doesn't get any indication why. Why not just bring cash to tip? Or call the restaurant and talk to the manager? Not tipping doesn't accomplish anything and the server who has no control over the system and is already underpaid gets screwed over.

> Why not just bring cash to tip? Or call the restaurant and talk to the manager?

We're talking patron UX here and point is I don't what to shoulder the burden. I didn't even want to calculate 15% tip in my head and you want me to start carrying cash everywhere, something I haven't done since Y2K was a concern. Spend 15 minutes waiting for the manager to come over? No thanks.

> Not tipping doesn't accomplish anything and the server who has no control over the system and is already underpaid gets screwed over.

I view that as "not my problem". I know it's wrong if the server gets screwed, I'm not arguing this is a just behavior on my part. But, if you extrapolate my behavior to all patrons the restaurant would get a hint real quick that people didn't want to tip 20%/25% and reduce the defaults. They know I'm dissenting it's just that I'm the only one dissenting so they're not even paying attention. Instead, what is happening is the opposite. Patrons were conditioned that 15% is too low. 20% is now standard, pushing up to 25% which will be standard in a couple years if trend continues.

FWIW, I hate tipping in general. I wish they were paid a fair wage and I was billed appropriately on the front end.

Not only does the "recommended" tipping amount keep going up, but in a lot of discussions there's the additional bullshit of waiters saying "Well 25% is the bare minimum, (if you're a total jerk), but if you tip 35% we'll really take care of you!"

To me, a waiter provides no value at all. I'd rather order at a counter and pick up the food myself. Then I don't have someone asking me "how is everything" when my mouth is full. I don't need to pay someone a 30% cut for this.

Yes. The discussions I've seen from waiter expectations like you mention is what has soured me the most on tipping.

Also, I don't feel like my check size is very related to the amount of work involved. At least in my 95% use case of 2-4 people. The waiter does the same thing, checks in on us just as much, still juggling 5-10 other tables. I'm there for an hour. I just don't see $15-30 of value in the service I got during my interaction (my typical check size is $50-100), that's where I land back on my 15% standard. I don't always see that value either, but it's what helps me sleep at night.

If I'm with 5+ people or stay longer than an hour or am eating at a higher priced place where waiter is probably serving fewer tables simultaneously then I adjust accordingly.

Another irk of mine is how alcohol falls into this equation. If I buy a $50 bottle of wine I'm supposed to give $10 tip when usually all they do is open the bottle? My rule is a dollar per serving. It's probably outdated rule and needs some adjustment for inflation as that's been my rule for a long time.

>It's probably outdated rule and needs some adjustment for inflation

Honestly if the minimum wage was increased appropriately we wouldn't have to bother with tipping at all.

This is the real problem. Unfortunately big business has politicians by the balls, so this is unlikely to happen.

Billionaires get tax breaks while the lowest-paid workers buying power goes down every year without fail.

And no guillotines because they're all too busy trying to keep their head above water. GG billionaires.

Pre-pandemic, some restaurants in my area started adding separate tip lines for servers and kitchen staff. While nice in theory as a way to recognize the work they do it left me feeling confused more than anything. Am I still expected to tip 15-20% or more to the server AND an additional amount to the rest of the staff? Do I split my regular tip amongst both lines? If so, 50-50 or some other breakdown.

In the end, I left my usual tip to the server and zero to the rest and left it for them to figure out, just like in every other restaurant on the planet. Servers make full, much higher than Federal minimum wage in my state plus tips, so really we should be abolishing tipping at this point IMO.

"just like in every other restaurant on the planet"

You mean just like every restaurant in USA. I rarely tip in France, only if I had a really special interaction with the waiter/waitress. Once it was because the waitress was a student we chit chat a bit and ended up talking programming (!). I never tipped once in China (nobody does it there)

I'm pretty sure most patrons would not be comfortable with the server losing money for something they have no control over. I'm certainly not going to refuse to tip them to make some kind of statement that only punishes them.

I guess I don't know how you go from the idea that you are accomplishing nothing while making someone else's day worse to being able to say "not my problem" and go on with your life.

I would much rather they were paid a fair wage. But I'm not going to voice my opinion on that matter by refusing to give them the money that I personally factor in as part of a meal anyway. I get where you're coming from, but I don't see how this method of addressing it is intended to accomplish anything.

< FWIW, I hate tipping in general. I wish they were paid a fair wage and I was billed appropriately on the front end.

In several states they are. Washington St. doesn't have a lower minimum wage for servers.

I've visited and really enjoyed that model. I'm in Texas and we're not progressive at all in this realm; or many other realms when comparing to a progressive state like Washington.

You are still expected to tip the same as other states with the $2.13 minimum for tipped employees. In fact, you should be tipping more, so goes the rule of thumb, since cost of living is higher.

In Washington? I don't recall that being the case. I was there around the time they converted about 5 years ago and there were signs everywhere saying that the prices may seem high because they pay their people a living wage. I have to assume that means living wage locally. If waitstaff is wanting a regular tip now, it's just a naturally greedy thing to want as much compensation as you can get. Have their cake and eat it too. American's are passive on this in general and don't negotiate well (we're not used to it). So I think we tend to feel guilted into sheepish behavior instead of challenging the "rule of thumb". The reality is, some jobs just aren't meant to earn big bucks. I support a minimum wage, but you also have to realize that means minimum lifestyle.

>Not tipping doesn't accomplish anything and the server who has no control over the system and is already underpaid gets screwed over.

What a curious statement, American Stockholm Syndrome in full effect.

I'm in Australia and tipping is only really done in the case of exceptional service. The price on the menu is the price you pay. Nobody feels animosity towards someone who pays the price on the menu, and nobody feels guilt for "only" paying the price that was specified.

Also nobody would expect sub-par service or to be disparaged if they don't pay more, as sibling commenters have mentioned.

Much simpler for everyone - why should customers have to do convoluted maths to work out how much to subsidize a business that can't afford to pay their workers? That is pretty much the definition of an unviable business.

> Why not just bring cash to tip

If the point is not to keep calculating the tip, that's worse. And then we would need to wait to get the change on the tip?

A related problem with the apps is that they expand the tipping expectation to all sorts of interactions that were not traditionally tipped, such as ordering at a cash register. You don't need to tip someone just because they have an iPad!

Agree. The worst are the little vendors. I want to support you and all because I love your small batch popsicles, that's why I'm paying $7 each. But, you just took it out of a freezer and handed it to me, this is a pure retail transaction at this point. It's like going to 7-11 and saying, I need $20 on pump 8 and here's $5 for your trouble...

If I have to do math and input in dollar, I do 10%, which is easier to calculate

I've thought about this. My "15%" standard in application is more like. 10% + 50% of 10%, ambiguously round to whole dollar. So if the bill was $45, I think, $4.5 + about $2 is $6.5 so I'll give $6 but maybe I go $7. I never do cents unless it's to force the total to a whole dollar amount (rare).

I'm moving towards a fixed amount. Since, as I mentioned elsewhere I don't see a strict correlation between menu price and work performed. The amount of work to bring me a steak is same as work to bring me a burger; but the steak might cost 3x more. Majority of dining experiences follow the same script and same amount of interaction with waitstaff so I'm thinking of just giving everyone $X and don't even consider what I spent. Maybe adjust up if we had appetizers, extra beverages, or some difficult situation. Having a toddler, I've left my fair share of huge "sorry for the mess" tips and that doesn't bother me at all.

Yep - and now the waitstaff will gossip about you behind your back, give you bad service and thing you’re grumpy old man.

You thought you were dissenting, but it mostly just reflects poorly on you.

Source - brother is a server.

I don't care what someone that behaves that way thinks of me. I seldom repeat to places with bad service. Or if I do, I seldom see the same waiter. In reality, this has zero impact on me except further diminishes my opinion of the "profession" which goes back to my original comment about degrading service and increasing expectations ($) being at conflict

My favorite UX mental game is "Can you describe the paper interface as a new, innovative system relative to the technology solution?"

So with the paper pad waitress experience:

1. Responsive, zero latency interactions. 2. Accepts free form text entry. 3. No multi step UI control lookups. 4. Allows entry of customer modifications and requests to items. 5. Allows custom abbreviations.

Etc. etc.

Supports every written alphabet out of the box, including custom emoji. Compatible with any brand of stylus. Can run thousands of games. Can go years without a charge. Never needs OS updates. Sustainable, recyclable, compostable.

Flashlight mode doesn't last very long, though.

> Flashlight mode doesn't last very long, though.

Is flashlight mode when you set it on fire?

> Compatible with any brand of stylus.

Well except, you know, literally a stylus.

I see this as the beginnings of a comedy bit. A group of people around a confernece table with someone presenting their slide deck. Maybe the conference table is replaced with "sharks" in cushy chairs?? At the end the presenter says "and now let me show you my invention" while reaching into back pocket to whip out a spiral bound note pad with a pencil in the spiral. "Oh, one more thing... It comes with its own iPencil holder"

Several of the large chains already have pay at table kiosk's I have always wondered why they just do not have order at table as well...

I am waiting for the first restaurant that only has Cooks and Food Runners with no traditional waitstaff...

This will likely coincide with the removal of tipping as a custom in the US. We will move to kiosk ordering, press a button to get drink refills, pay at the table, and leave.

> only has Cooks and Food Runners with no traditional waitstaff

They've had this in Japan since before tablets in the form of vending machine restaurants. You order and pay at a vending machine and get a ticket, you sit down and hand in your ticket, and someone brings the food to your table.

I haven't been in many years, I guess now they have touch screen kiosks instead of old school vending machines.

I loved those as a tourist that doesn't speak any Japanese. The touch screens would always have an English option.

I absolutely stopped going to restaurants that have those table tablets. It's just too distracting.

hmm, I prefer them. I never liked handing my card to wait staff where they take off somewhere..

I 100% prefer pay at table, and would 100% prefer order at table as well, less chance they get my order wrong

Those tablets range from "large-screen credit card terminal with order entry" to "brightly flashing ad-infested slot machine exploitation box that might let you order food if you figure out how to close the fucking ads. With a cloud-connected webcam, because why not".

Actually, now that I've think of it, I'm not sure I've ever seen the "large-screen credit card terminal with order entry" version in real life.

> I never liked handing my card to wait staff where they take off somewhere..

Just realized this is another problem averted by Chip+PIN for payments. Since you have to physically touch the keypad, there's reason to take you to the PoS terminal, or the terminal to you, and no reason to take the card from you.

Chip+Pin is not really used in the US at all.

Chip+Sign is what we have here. I dont even know what my PIN would be for my Credit Card, Pin's are only really used for Debit cards but I almost never use my Debit card for anything at all.

So you trust them to cook your food, but you are worried they will take off with your card? Do you live in a first world country or a failed state?

Some would argue the US is both.

never heard of card skimming have you?

Not really in a first world country, no…

Well then I guess the US is not the first world by your definition since it is very common. Less so with more Chip systems but it is still an issue even today

Applebees allows you to order from the kiosk. I bet that after a few times of doing that you could get a situation where the waitress would recognize you and not even stop by until she's bringing your order.

I still feel that these products are "sold" to restaurants and aren't actually all they're cracked up to be.

Have you been to a buffet?

not recently, most of the buffet's around me closed permanently due to covid, while we did allow indoor dinning, their was a ban of self service food.

A few converted to carry out only, and have not gone back to buffet style.

There are still a few open of course but no where near as many, and the ones that survived seems to be of lesser quality


Except it is not, but ok.

I bet you are one of those people that believe wait staff only make $2/hr right?

Not everywhere but in some places it happens if it’s a slow night and the restaurant does some sort of thing where they average out all the tips over a week/month. A waiter could very well earn 3-4$ per hour if they earned 15 on the weekend. It’s not legal but it happens.

Even shadier shit happens where the restaurant makes employees repot tips that didn’t happen to keep above the minimum. Then they have to pay taxes off income not earned. Is it illegal? Yeah but it’s difficult to enforce and the people getting screwed are already very vulnerable (not your hipster big city wait staff)

If we are going to dip into the illegal then what makes you believe a higher min wage would change the equation.

The context of this conversation is around restaurants being able to legally pay less because of tipping, however if they willing to violated the laws that we have now, why would they not also violate the min wage laws.

It’s closer to $3/hr before tips. If they don’t make minimum wage from tips and $3/hr the restaurant must supplement to at least minimum wage. That’s a lot to just make minimum wage.

Well lets do some math.

Around here an average meal at a restaurant would be about $14 lunch and $18 dinner per person.

So to make the often promoted $15/hr wage, the server would need to clear $96 in tips over the base wage of $3/hr. At an average of 18% tips that would mean the ticket revenue would need to be $534 for the shift. @16 avg per person that is about 4 people per hour, or 1 or 2 tables per hour

If the restaurant is that slow, that the server is only serving 1 table per hour, well chances are the server needs to look for another job anyway because that place will not be in business very long.

This is also why alot of servers I know prefer the tipped model over a higher base wage, if a strait 15/hr wage was created with no tips, many servers would make LESS money then under the current system

Most of the people calling for a $15/hr base wage have a delusional belief they will make $15/hr PLUS tips... that is never going to happen

> Most of the people calling for a $15/hr base wage have a delusional belief they will make $15/hr PLUS tips... that is never going to happen

It almost does in Portland. Starting July 1st, it's $14 plus tips. There is no "tipped employee" minimum wage. It's the same for all. I think it will be $13 per hour in the rest of Oregon outside the metro area but there may be a third level for the most rural counties.

I'm in Oregon and I didn't realize that.

Don't mean to be too much of a jerk, but I may adjust my tipping downwards. I typically do closer to 20%.

There are many states where minimum wage for workers is above the federal $2.13 (actually, a bit more than half): https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/state/minimum-wage/tipped

This whole $2 thing is bullshit that’s carried forward if you’re the average HN reader in a coastal city. My friends who are waiters across a spectrum of restaurants (in a coastal city) probably make $50-60 an hour, and double that at the higher end places, for a job that yes, can be exhausting (but not exceptionally more so than many other low-skill jobs), and requires no specific training or degree.

Why not? Because they definitely will and do. I’ve seen wait staff pull nearly $100/hr. Bartenders can make way more than that. It’s all perspectives. Those same people have also had nights where the place needed to be cleaned, or for some reason the restaurant didn’t have customers. At that time the owners will be required to pay them minimum wage.

Assuming there was another restaurant nearby, I'd have simplified the process to "go outside". If a restaurant is too cheap to print a menu, why should I consider it good enough for me?

With covid, many restaurants removed paper menus to avoid transmission. I hate QR codes so that was a move I was not in favour of.....

Most, if not all restaurants I've been to around my area, were already either using or switched to using laminated sheets, sometimes bound in a plastic or leather cover. Plastic-enclosed paper is trivial to sanitize and lasts a VERY long time, plus I would like to imagine a laminator is quite a bit cheaper in the long-term than maintaining separate menu websites for every individual location.

It's amazing how some can re-invent the simplest of ideas simply for the sake of getting tech rammed into the stream.

It is not for tech sake, this is building a database. Never attribute to incompetence what can be adequately explained by bogus engagement KPIs

Most of the restaurants I've been to the QR code takes you to a PDF of the menu as found on the restaurant's website. There's no auth and no way to track anything beyond I guess how many times people opened the menu file. Restaurants aren't doing this for tracking, they're doing it to stay on the good side of public health regulations in a period where they've learned they can be forcibly closed with barely any warning.

Orders are typically stored anyways?

But not how long you stared at the deserts, or what side of the "give me lobster" button you pressed.

Maybe eventually; I haven't seen a PointOfSale system that worked remotely well enough I thought they could be competent to implement in a useful way.

I tend to not jump to malicious that can be attributed to virtue signaling and/or incompetence.

Meaningless and trivial metrics, ultimately. Third order at best.

Probably, but it is still data that is cheap to store. IF someone can find something useful in just 1% of those things 10 years from now all the cost to collect and store all that data will be worth the investment - or so they hope. They probably will too - the cost vs reward is very skewed.

The idea of menu costs is an extremely important one in restaurant economics. Sure laminated menus may last a while but they're a pain in the ass to change. If the restaurant wants to add an item or change the prices they're pretty much out of luck. None of the 30 or so restaurants I've been to post pandemic have had physical menus which is definitely not ideal, but I don't see them going back to having non zero menu costs.

A few here went the opposite route. Print the menu doublesided with a standard B&W laser printer. Every customer gets a new menu and it does not cost a ton extra.

That’s indeed why they did it, which is silly because there’s zero evidence that paper restaurant menus are a significant risk of covid transmission. It’s pure hygiene theater.

Nah, they did it because it makes it super easy to change the menu. Physical menus rarely change, online menus can change instantly for free.

It's definitely not free when you consider the infrastructure behind providing online menus.

IDK I've been to restaurants where its just a QR code linked to a google drive pdf. Doesn't require much infrastructure there.

QR code to s3 bucket is basically free.

Most restaurants have no idea what s3 is, much less how to use it.

Most restaurants already have a website.

Then they should just have a big blackboard

Hygiene theater? That’s just hygiene. You don’t HAVE to bathe everyday, nothing will happen if you don’t. But doing so is just hygiene.

A year ago it was generally believed that fomites passed by contact was or could be a significant path for spread of the covid-19 virus. This turns out not to be the case - but that hasn't stopped a huge number of organizations from demanding high levels of surface cleansing.

If you're just unusually fastidious, I guess that's your right. But when you're claiming (or at least implying) that everyone must conform to those same levels to avoid covid-19 transmission - which is what we're still seeing quite a bit of - then that's hygiene theater.

Yeah, the CDC has acknowledged the surface thing [1], but sadly people are still operating on last year's knowledge and stil think disinfection is super important. Meanwhile despite new knowledge that Covid spreads in the air (not just through visible spit)[2], things like good ventilation (e.g. keeping windows open) hasn't really been pushed to people's heads. Maybe it's the failure of media?

[1] https://nypost.com/2021/04/05/low-risk-of-catching-covid-fro...

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/07/opinion/coronavirus-airbo...

If you don’t bathe every day, and you have a body that produces a lot of sweat, you will look and smell disgusting to other people. That’s hardly “nothing”.

> With covid, many restaurants removed paper menus to avoid transmission

Any time a business claims to do something in the name of health or environmentalism, they are actually just using those as an excuse to cut corners.

Or, you know, the government is asking them to do it.

Here in Belgium the government asked a lot of mostly useless measures out of our bars and restaurants. You think they're happy paying hundreds, sometimes thousands of euros having Plexiglas screens installed all over the place, inconveniencing customers and staff alike?

Cut corners and charge more...

I've been to a restaurant where they raised the prices of drinks to accomodate for using biodegradable plastic cups (sit-in restaurant!)... this is not enviromentalism, this is charging 20c for a 5c cup, instead of using glasses like a normal restaurant.

Also, the reusable cotton bags are just an excuse to charge more, because you'd have to reuse a cotton bag 7100 times, to make it as friendly as using plastic bags ( https://theconversation.com/heres-how-many-times-you-actuall... ). ...of course, paper is rarely an option.

I've been to a number of restaurants that have had QR codes on the table but, if you request it, they provide a laminated menu.

Laminated menus that you can spray and wipe off would make a lot more sense.

On the other hand, pathogens survive longer on a smooth surface than on a rough absorbant surface, and I would guess that they are more likely to be transferred from a smooth surface onto somebody's hand than from a rough absorvant surface. So, taking account of people perhaps not doing all that spraying and wiping properly, a paper menu might turn out to be safer after all.

I could be wrong, as I often am, but I think getting covid from a surface is recently proven to be highly unlikely.

In March of 2020 we were pretty sure that at most 5% of Covid transmissions were through touched surfaces (fomites). Currently we're sure that at most .01% of Covid transmissions are through surfaces and still haven't found clear evidence of it ever actually having happened so literally 0% still can't be ruled out. But upper respiratory tract infections like the flu do actually spread through fomites pretty easily so we've defaulted to the flu playbook for many public health measures.

There are a lot of diseases out there that are transferred on surfaces however. Not everything is about covid

They have known this since april 2020, it was a German scientist that first tested this I believe.

Then destroy and replace them with every service?

it's only a printed sheet

Interestingly this is why wood cutting boards are better than plastic ones.

It’s as if Denny’s has been ahead of the game all a long

Assume you're disgusting, work backwards from there.

Don’t be acting like Denny’s is a Waffle House.

That is all fine, but then they should find a better way to secure their WiFi Network to allow easy access to the Menu

I.e Not have a captive portal if your only going to the menu, have the captive portal if you want full access to the internet

Clearly they cheaped out on hiring a network company that setup their wifi wrong

If I have jump through a bunch of hurtles to view your menu I am out

Restaurants open during the pandemic has been a joke. Outside in a tent/wood box never fixed any problem. I have not been to a restaurant since March 2020. Going to different restaurants was my favorite hobby, but the experience has become so hostile that I won’t go back until I can sit inside without a mask, have a menu, and not have to worry about a coughing idiot.

Your comment reeks of entitlement. Restaurant owners have been struggling to survive by serving customers any way they can. Sorry your high dining-out standards can’t be met while a few million people die from the pandemic.

How is this entitlement? Dining at a restaurant is a luxury, if I’m going to spend my money on a luxury, I’m going to choose an experience that is safe, enjoyable, and to my interests. Why are you so upset? Why do you feel that the conditions in place are acceptable? Personally, I grew up quite poor and never got to go to restaurants. It wasn’t until I started making a little money in my late 20s that I could start to go to restaurants as a way to remove myself from my current stressful life and just unwind for a bit. For me restaurant dining is an experience and the experience offered at present isn’t appealing.

Dining at a restaurant is a luxury

I think this is the crux of the difference of opinions. Dining at a restaurant is different things to different people at different times. I love the 'luxury' dining experience with all that it entails, will happily pay a lot of money to experience it, and I cannot wait to do that again. And in those cases, yes I expect that all aspects of the dining experience live up to that. But just as often I'm just hungry and want a halfway decent burger and beer served to me as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For most people and in most situations, dining at a restaurant isn't a luxury experience, it's just a way to get food.

For all people in all situations in the UK, dining at a restaurant is subject to VAT; it is therefore considered a luxury (in the sense of being pleasant but not necessary [0]) as opposed to essential 'way to get food'.

It may seem a bit ridiculous to appeal to VAT - there are fairly 'ordinary' goods that are nevertheless deemed inessential and taxable after all - but I just wanted a way to say that I think GP's use of 'luxury' is being misinterpreted as a desire for fine dining; as I read it, I agree, it's discretional expenditure which has my discretion when I think I'll enjoy it. If I don't, why should I?

I don't think that's any more entitled than the converse view here that we have some sort of moral obligation to personally (and not through taxes) support restaurateurs through limited opening.

[0] - https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/luxury

It smacks of entitlement when dining at a restaurant is considered basic necessity and preparing your own meals is considered a luxury. Think about history. Think about the vast, vast majority of people on earth. Consider just how entitled one must be to have the help prepare your basic necessities of life.

By that argument, indoor plumbing and safe running water can also be considered luxuries. Which, while true, is rather reductivist.

And if we want to talk history, having food made for you by other rather than making it yourself is not a new thing. Having a servant or a wife/mother/grandmother making you dinner was far more common in the past than it is now. I'd probably guess that more people know how to cook and cook their own food today, than at just about any other time in history

It's remarkable how much those restaurants they uncovered in Pompeii resemble modern versions.


Stirring Mac and cheese or warming a Hot Pocket is not on the same level as roasting a pig and such, but I agree with the local point you're making.

These are all just spinning food products around or on a heat source, sounds like we could just abstract and reuse that module without coding up a behavior for each 'new' cooking technique.

Fast food has been a staple of life since antiquity: For centuries, folks went to the baker to get bread, since home kitchen facilities were very limited. Women have been stuck in home kitchens for eons, with male family members not learning even basic skills unless they were employed as cooks or bakers.

I think we've been depending on others for food prep for a very, very long time.

> Women have been stuck in home kitchens for eons ... we've been depending on others for food prep for a very, very long time.

Did the slightly more than half the population throughout history also have someone else cook for them too? A woman's woman perhaps?

No, I'm not buying any argument that says a person is not privileged to have someone provide for them just because they consider the provisioner to be a lesser being like a woman or a slave. Quite the contrary in fact: I consider that a reinforcing argument for a privileged existence.

A woman's woman perhaps?

Servants and maids where much more common in the past than now, especially among the middle class. Also it was more common to have several generations living under the same roof, so 1-2 people would often be preparing meals for 6-12 people. Today it is much more likely that you have 1-2 people preparing food for 1-4 people.

I strongly suspect that the proportion of people eating a meal they cooked themselves is almost certainly higher now than at virtually any point in history.

That’s extremely sexist. I for one am an excellent cook, I’m not a women, and I haven’t been employed for my cooking abilities. I learned to cook because I wasn’t able to experience restaurants. I was tired of the bland boring food my parents made. I started cooking our meals and I would copy from tv shows, magazines. I wanted better food, but couldn’t afford to have it prepared for me so I learned a skill. Any restaurant food is considered a luxury to me. I aggressively budgeted so that I could start going to restaurants as an adult. My cooking abilities only got better when I was able to taste the food that I’d been mimicking for so long. For me a normal family meal cost $20, a single value meal at McDonald’s is $10. So for my family a meal at McDonald’s would be $40 minimum. That increases as the greatly as you transition into sit down meals; where a meal is $15 per person and that’s before tip so $80. How are these not luxury expenses? 1 meal at a restaurant cost as much as 4 at home and those home meals will also produce leftovers for lunches. Before COVID I would eat out 1 times a week with my family and 1-2 times a week for lunch. At that frequency it’s still a lot of money and I have always treated it as a luxury expense that is part food and part entertainment.

Recounting historical realities is sexist? How does one talk about history then, since history is chock-full of inequalities? And might there be some decent, non-sexist reasons why women cooked and men didn't, consistently, over large periods of time and many different cultures?

“That’s extremely sexist.”

No it isn’t, GP was recounting historical norms. Get off your high horse.

I'm the poster you responded to, and I think you've taken some things out of context. Of course there is sexism. I was talking about history, and history has a lot more sexism than a lot of western, more "liberal" countries retain - and this is a fairly recent development.

In developing countries, the urban poor frequently don't live in places with cooking facilities and have to eat prepared food.

When you’re poor, dining out is a luxury. Like GP, I grew up poor and still think of something like AppleBees as frivolous and expensive. I like to have an enjoyable experience as well. The hygiene theater has really reduced that experience. Menus being an unexpected casualty of the pandemic.

> why do you feel like the conditions in place are acceptable?

“Acceptable”? To whom? This is why you sound entitled. The alternative is not dining out. You make it sound like restaurants are letting you down or should try harder. The word “acceptable” has no place in this conversation.

It’s fine that you don’t want to go out to restaurants right now. But you’re complaining about how inconvenient it is for you like there is no underlying reason for things to be in this state. Businesses ate also victims of this pandemic.

All of this makes me upset because it sounds extremely insensitive. The world is mourning millions of dead and you’re grumpy about your restaurant experience being ruined. Might be just your wording but one would expect a bit more empathy.

I disagree. You are allowed to have an opinion about something you would pay for. In fact you are allowed to have an opinion period. That doesn't make you entitled.

It isn't the opinion that makes them sound entitled.

The base opinion is: I haven't gone to such places since Covid began because the experience is less enjoyable and more stressful.

But it is said with contempt for the businesses and regulations, which the businesses cannot do much about. Even where it is open, they have to think about their employees and the risk they put them in. Not only that, but folks have been dining in tents and under wooden awnings - in booths even - enjoyably for decades. Where I am at, before covid hit they had heating and blankets outdoors so the restaurants could extend the outdoor seating season. The poster acts like it something horrible thrust upon them, when the fact is that they simply aren't a fan.

If people liked that sort of thing it would have been the business model before it was forced to be. The restaurants have declined in quality. Sometimes this is their fault, and sometimes it isn't. Either way, no restaurant is entitled to customers. A lot of places near me have decided that masks are still required, despite the state saying they aren't. In response, I have decided not to eat there. There's no entitlement either way, just the market.

How can you eat with a mask on? Or are you referring tot non-restaurant places?

They require a mask at the door and at any time when not seated. Some places even require you to put the mask back on when the waiter comes to the table. It's all just theater, and I won't be a part of it.

> To whom? This is why you sound entitled.

> you’re complaining

> All of this makes me upset because it sounds extremely insensitive.

> The world is mourning millions of dead

> a bit more empathy.

You're attacking a person for their honest opinion while knowing almost nothing about them, their life etc. In fact you sound angry and insensitive, please keep your emotions under control

Nice way to turn this into a personal attack. I have nothing against this opinion, and said as much above (I might even share it). His attitude and wording is entitled and disrespectful, like this is an inconvenience to him and not the result of worldwide events.

It's not entitlement. You are entitled to express your opinion that dining in restaurants has become something you no longer enjoy. I think it's worth noting since their existence depends upon pleasing customers.

People forget that restaurants are a really modern invention. They were first introduced in France at the turn of the 19th century to provide more than just a way to order one type of food. The main reason they exist is the service, ambiance, and menu. Until "nice" restaurants came about, there were pretty much just taverns and inns, which were not renowned for their dining experience, and in most locales there was just one or maybe two, and the food selection wasn't great.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2020/12/archaeologists-excav... might want to consider a wider scope of recent archaeological discoveries. I wonder what it was like outside of Europe during this time period too

The tent/box "solution" was so dumb, the idea of "outside dining is okay" is because fresh air would dillute the virus being breathed out by people. If you're "outside" a building but in a tent, that's no difference, but well it follows the letter of the rules and somehow authorities also turn a blind eye, so they've been allowed. From a science point of view, if that was okay, you might've as well stayed indoors!

> and not have to worry about a coughing idiot

That's on you and your location. I've been eating back at restaurants just fine for about a year now without a mask (for while it was mask on unless at a table, which is a bit of a joke to act like that helps anything). It was nice being able to walk in anywhere without RSVP but that's going away too as more and more people are back to work and social activities.


Great, I will.

I am sorry you live in an area that does not respect freedom.

Around here in door dining was only closed for a couple of weeks maybe a month or so. Then it was 50% capacity for a few months, then 75%, and we have been fully open for in door dinning for several months now

I had a completely different situation last year. Checked in via QR (no account needed), ordered my drinks, got them quick, could also pay them with PayPal. The last thing was great because I hate waiting for a waiter to get my bill and pay it. And I could add tips in this 'app' as well. But maybe I was just lucky that my first experience with QR-codes in a restaurant was so positive.

I've had similar really good experiences, but it's probably just luck. The last place I went to they used https://pos.toasttab.com/. It was quick, easy, everyone at the table was able to pay for their own food without having to worry about dividing up the bill, it was easy to order additional items without having to wait for the waiter to come around, etc. And, fwiw, it didn't seem to affect the social aspect of my dinner at all. Normally we all would have been sitting quietly looking at the menu, instead we all sat quietly and looked at our phones. After we ordered, everyone put their phones away and we had a good time.

It's been hit and miss. I've had good and bad. The best I've found are;

1. QR code to PDF of full actual menu. If they direct you to a HTML page is usually awful and is accordion based mobile UI that involves a bunch of clicking in and out. A PDF can be zoomed in/out but all the content is right there.

2. QR code to pay. This is great when it comes on your bill and you can just pay and leave. However, if it allows Apple pay it's very smooth. Unfortunately, most of the systems involve a web based checkout flow including manual credit card entry and capturing more info than is really needed (email/phone) so they can spam you later.

I’m not pulling my phone out at dinner.

I can already see myself, as a tourist who buys a US SIM card to get data on vacation, having to add a SIM card swap to this ordeal to confirm debit card transaction via my EU phone number. Why, oh why...

Could make life easier for tourists wanting to get round a language barrier.

Aren't most smartphones dual-sim by now?

No, most aren't.

I would dispute that -- except for iPhones -- almost all the smart phones I've seen sold in Asia are dual SIM.

My understanding is that the current iPhones offer both a traditional SIM card slot along with an esim, which gives you the option of two sims provided one of the carriers supports esim.

I also believe that current iPhones sold in China support two physical SIM cards and no esim.

That could have something to do with it. I've ordered from India before when I wanted a dual sim android. Local stock for that model was single sim only.

Looked at gsmarena now and indeed most models have dual-sim versions (as well as single sim). But when I look at a local store, it seems that roughly 1/2 has dual sims (that's including eSIM).

> sold in Asia


If we're talking about tourists it definitely isn't. In fact, the phones that are sold in the US are the irrelevant ones.

Well, Asian phones too I suppose. Most Xiaomi phones if not all are dual sim.

I refuse to buy phones from Chinese government majority owned companies tho.

I own Samsungs, and they are all dual SIMS.

Only in some nations.

Some nations even have laws that prohibit selling phones locked to a particular cell provider.


They will have paper menus available as well. Don't panic.

Where do they work well? I still have to pull out my phone and switch to the camera app, open a browser to whatever link is in the qr code. This process is already too many points of failure.

Not to mention tedious

So, if they have a captive portal, why not put the menu there before you login? That would even make the QR code a moot point, scan QR code or just connect to the wifi and menu magically appears…

This is just yet another way to monetize people data. I saw that once and left the restaurant. There was no technical problem to solve here. Give paper with checkboxes it is much more convenient.

I'd leave as soon as I could not use the system without connecting to their WiFi, and especially if it required any personal information at all to do so. I have a VPN, but that's just too much.

I would use a QR menu to browse, if it works well enough, and otherwise ask for a real menu or else just leave.

What I will not do is make accounts, or fill in an online order form. And I will not give out any personal information, including my email, without very good reason.

Last year here in Germany the government started to require restaurants to take down the name, address, phone number of every customer, so they could contact trace if there was an outbreak. Fine by me, in these special circumstances. But one restaurant we visited actually had a waiter show up with a tablet showing some online form I was supposed to fill out. I told her "No thanks, please get me a piece of paper and I will write it down". The owner then came with pen and paper, and we had a nice and friendly chat. He explained that he wanted to make it easy and "cool" with tech. It also turned out that his "tech-wiz" nephew had coded up that online form for him last minute (very cliché :p). I explained to him that while understandable, it's actually harder for a lot of people to type on these things (including me to a degree) than use a pen and paper - the owner thought for a few moments and admitted that he too finds it easier to use a real pen "at his age" - and that storing this kind of information in digital form is just one mishap away from really angry (former) customers and GDPR penalties, and how managing this kind of data is actually harder to get right in digital form than collecting some pieces of paper and running them through the shredder some 4 weeks later. We visited the same place about a month later, and they had switched to pen and paper entirely. I like to think our talk helped them with that decision.

I cannot really fault that owner. He was trying to do the best in a suddenly changed and shitty situation, and in his line of business he didn't really have to deal with privacy issues and the associated dangers and regulations before, other than cashless payments where the payment processor does most of the heavy lifting and compliance anyway.

I would have left after 1 minute. Enough restaurants that work without this bullshit. Plus I can't scan a QR code at all with my phone.

Or you could ask for a printed menu, it's not hard. Every place I've been to with QR cards has that option. The sense of entitlement and grumpiness these days is unsettling.

I haven't seen anything that bad since last summer. Actually I've seen some QR code and online based checkout systems that were bad, but I just ignore those with a "I'm not signing up for that"

The only QR related issue here is lack of signal, everything else is irrelevant

You shouldn't need internet connectivity or a smart phone to view the menu.

Why? its 2021. Everything is connected. You're on a hacker website.

Not everything is online and many things that are were better off when they weren't.


That sounds excruciating. Would absolutely make my blood boil. I had the opposite experience today:

Arrive at the table, scan the QR code

Connect to the wifi, just a short PSK, no captive portal

Order food from web page (no registration or account, the QR code is already set up to be my table). Extra-options for the dishes available.

Initiate second order, add some 0-cost salt, mayo, and water.

Payment didn't involve the website at all, just paid at the register with cash like normal.

At no point was I urged to enter any personal information or install an app.

Had a similar experience: this awesome takeaway / pizza place had an ordering system completely online, great!

The only downside? After deciding what to eat, adding the table number and pressing "order"... you discover that you can only pay by credit card (I mostly use debit).

No option to pay in cash. I had to go to the cashier, re-order everything, tell her my table number and pay in cash.

Not that huge of a deal, first world problems, but still - they could have stated right away the payment methods for the online thing.

Buddy how did you not just leave the place as soon as you saw there's no network connection ?

These places are unwittingly teaching their customers that they'll have a superior experience by using a food delivery service such as Uber Eats.

what if I dont have smartphone?

Then sucks for you.

There's not enough people in the demographics the restaurant cares about to make an accommodation.

It's like when people complain pages are broken when they turn off JavaScript.

I guess I must be happy that I can still pay with real money or perform contactless payment with cards

Yea; that's a clearly broken system. 2-3 clicks to look at menu is fine. Filling in credit card info in-phone is too far.

Having to have a phone signal to receive a wifi confirmation code is one of my least favorite things ever.

Is the online ordering system a cost cutting measure to save on staff or seen as a user benefit?

If you're "good" at marketing, both.

Pretty poor design not to disable auth for the ordering system domain.

Just tell them your phone is not working, and ask for a menu.

Adding the next hurdle and man-in-the-middle with "Apple Pay"?

Apple Pay is no more of a hurdle/mitm than whatever payment gateway they were using.

Things are not "good" because somebody made you feel it is comfortable. 800 Euro for an Apple device, account at Apple, network connection with provider and full battery - together with a credit card and all of that is no hurdle? You can just pay immediately with cash. And nobody will be informed about it! Words of critique upon Apple are usually not welcome here. When I look how bad entitlement handling is with MacOS I have more critique...beware.

However if I happen to have an Apple device it's by far and away the easiest (and most secure) way for me to pay. And yes, I do prioritize places that take Apple Pay over those that do not.

There are lots of iPhone users and often business can getting better (lower) processing fees by accepting more secure methods like Apple pay so if it's literally just flipping a switch and possibly paying a bit less for processing why wouldn't a business do it?

I'm not endorsing Apple Pay, but I also don't carry cash, so how am I supposed to pay? Sure I can pay by card, but now the credit card company knows what I'm buying. Also that involves another person who has to come accept the payment which I could've done in peace on my phone using Apple/Google pay. Not everyone want to carry cash around.

I don't have an iPhone. So, recontextualize my comment in that light, and give it a more charitable reading.

Apple pay is, for the poster, a stand in for NFC pay of some sort. Which indeed requires a device, which indeed is its own class of requirement, but also, cash works even if less practical.


I do not miss 400 options(!) nor the icky stick menus that sticks together like a 80's playboy magazine. Its good to see digital revolution embrace restaurants. I'd much rather struggle with my phone and my own grime than fiddling with the menu.

It’s hostile to the experience. It takes me out of why I went to a restaurant I the first place. I want to sit down and focus on my present company and forget about my digital life. This isn’t a new experience, Red Robin and Ruby Tuesday have/had a tablet checkout system that was a chore to use. I started removing restaurants that used similar systems from my rotation because they ruin the experience.

It's hostile to your experience; others (me included) find QR codes quite handy and saving time and efforts

QR codes are a tool. It isn't the fault of the hammer that sometimes they are used to kill people. Likewise it isn't the fault of QR codes that many times they are used for something that isn't useful (at least they can't kill). When I'm at a museum I love the ability to scan a QR code and get a lot of detailed information that wouldn't fit on a sign - but often I just want the small sign and then I move on to the next exhibit.

a great combination is a short summary with a QR code for more info if you want it. It doesn't have to be rocket surgery.

It's really interesting to see how a crowd of tech workers who generally are trying to pave the way are so quick to attack and be negative.

Like all things in life, when its implemented well it works and when it does not it is terrible. I still think there is room for this to be the future though. I say this as a westerner but perhaps the west is not ready for it yet but I really enjoyed the experience of using QR codes in China. Go to a restaurant I just get shown where to sit and don't need to waste time with the host/server giving me menus or telling me anything. If I have questions they are there to answer the but I can also just sit down, scan the QR code, menu opens up and I can order food. Food just shows up minutes later. When I am done I go to the front and pay with Alipay.

The benefits to me of not having physical menus is huge. From the business perspective there is less interaction time necessary to serve a diner. Sure if this is an upscale high touch experience physical menu is where it stays BUT the majority of dining experiences are not like this. The menu is up to date and easy to modify. Possible to include multiple pictures and information about the food.

I might be wild but I really like the experience and wish more places would adopt it. Like all things I think here in the west its still too new so we have a mixed bag of good and bad implementations. Give it a few years and I think it will be narrowed down to the POS providers who offer it as a feature.

This process was one of my most hated "innovations" in food ordering in China. It turns every restaurant into a production line fast food operation, exactly like American chain restaurants. At that point, why even bother going to a restaurant at all? Might as well just order a Sysco-equivalent microwave meal at the supermarket or 7/11, because the flavor and the service will be exactly the same.

For me the best restaurants in China were the mom and pop joints where the person who takes your order is also the person who cooks your meal, or at least where you can see into the kitchen from the dining room so you can call out a request or ask a question as they're preparing it. This way it's much easier to figure out what's in the dish, see if the food is fresh, ask for it a bit more spicy, add another side, whatever. It makes the meal into a more of a social experience, and something that feels homey and satisfying rather than mass-produced.

Ironically going to these sorts of Chinese chain restaurants with the QR code menu, they also tended to be twice the price of the mom and pop joints, so whatever money they might be saving by eliminating a server is definitely not passed down to the consumer.

>This process was one of my most hated "innovations" in food ordering in China. It turns every restaurant into a production line fast food operation, exactly like American chain restaurants. At that point, why even bother going to a restaurant at all? Might as well just order a Sysco-equivalent microwave meal at the supermarket or 7/11, because the flavor and the service will be exactly the same.

I usually can't stand comments that are just "correlation does not imply causation," but are you sure you aren't mixing up the two here? It's not hard to imagine why a McDonalds wouldn't be one of the first to pick this kind of technology up, but I have a hard time that a previously good restaurant that adopts this will suddenly have their quality fall down the shitter. Nothing really changes for the wait staff except now the order shows up on a screen instead of a handwritten form.

>For me the best restaurants in China were the mom and pop joints where the person who takes your order is also the person who cooks your meal, or at least where you can see into the kitchen from the dining room

There's a similar sort of thing in Japan, but with older technology. You place your order with an automated kiosk out in front of the restaurant and pay the machine. It spits out a ticket that you hand to whoever and eventually your food comes to you. It exists at large chains as well as some mom and pop places, including some where you're sat eating your food a few feet from the cook/chef. The places I went to that had these didn't seem to suffer from lower quality than their counterparts without such a system that didn't have it, nor did they feel more "mass-produced."

My comment wasn't very clear. What I was getting at - and perhaps this is a China-specific issue - is that the QR code style restaurants are imo a symptom of gentrification and are contributing to the "blandification" of local cuisines.

In China restaurants can go under very quickly - you might see at a certain location two or three different restaurants in a year. The mom and pop operations tend to be eaten up by the national chain restaurants and "hip" (i.e. QR code ordering) franchises, and when one of these restaurants moves in then not only does the food quality go down, but the prices go up too. I think a lot of young Chinese techies like the change because it seems more clean or more hygienic or more futuristic, but if you just want to sit down and get some local food made by a local person, that experience is harder and harder to find.

> I usually can't stand comments that are just "correlation does not imply causation," but are you sure you aren't mixing up the two here?

FWIW I didn't read the gp's comment as implying causation. I read it purely as correlation. That restaurants that use these systems are much more likely to use other cost saving "short cuts" as well. Just because someone notes a correlation does not mean they imply a causal relationship between the two. Correlation, even without causation, can still be highly useful. Lack of causation does not equate to spurious correlations[0]. You'll note that on this website that the problem isn't that one doesn't cause the other, but rather that there's no reason to suspect these factors are correlated in the first place, and that correlation does not imply connection.

[0] https://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

How does ordering via QR code change the quality of the food itself? Just because you clicked a button to order the food instead of telling a server what you want who then wrote it in a notebook and went back to a terminal to enter it, should not have any bearing on how the food tastes.

The QR code doesn't change the quality of the food. It's just a correlation that the restaurants that moved to a QR code ordering system tended to also be the ones that hired kids who didn't much care about cooking, and who just produced the same bland dish every time, regardless of who was ordering.

I do my best to eat plant-based most of the time, so I always appreciate when I can have a chat to the cook or server to see what is in the dish and if they can avoid garnishing with ground pork or whatever. To me that's the whole point of going to a restaurant, to have someone cook for you personally. If you're just going to get a production line meal, then you might as well order from a vending machine or get a meal to go from a convenience store. No judgment on those meals, they are fine too, but when I go to a restaurant I expect a bit more of a personalized service.

> also be the ones that hired kids who didn't much care about cooking, and who just produced the same bland dish every time, regardless of who was ordering

I personally go to restaurants for consistency. Do you really think waiters taking orders pass along information about who ordered the order and their preferences? You can give instructions to the waiter but from my experience it's not carried a large chunk of the time. Every layer is a place for miscommunication, so going consumer -> app -> cook is a lot less likely to be messed up than consumer -> waiter -> notebook? -> terminal -> cook. There's generally a high turnover for waiters and I don't think they're all super informed about the meals, but I guess it depends what restaurant you go to. But with online ordering a restaurant that can't afford to have a highly trained wait staff can still deliver high quality information to customers

You can provide a lot more information on an app about a dish, including pictures, ingredients and customization options than a person.

I think there is a misunderstanding in this thread about what types of restaurants provide these QR code ordering systems in China.

From my perspective, if I need to use an app to select my dish, applying only the pre-approved customizations, then the experience is no different from ordering delivery. If you live in the US, then perhaps this experience is not unusual, since it's a lot like the experience of visiting a chain restaurant - same menu in every location, same customizations available, same "perky" waitstaff, same supplier of ingredients behind the scenes - it's basically just a more expensive version of fast food. Adding a QR code ordering system to this kind of restaurant is not changing much about the experience other than the speed of ordering.

But in other countries - notably China - there is a whole nother class of restaurants that is both cheaper and more personalized than a chain. And these family-owned restaurants are the ones that are being edged out by more expensive, less culinarily interesting restaurants whose primary appeal appears to be gimmicky apps that provide either the same or less functionality than a food delivery app does.

It might be that these chain restaurants are successful because a lot of people prioritize consistency over everything else. But I feel like in China in particular it is more trend- and status-based. People think it's cool to order on their phones instead of talking to the server, or they think it's classy to eat what the folks in Shanghai are eating instead of the local food from their region.

Personally, I would prefer to see more local restaurants and less chains, not just in China but everywhere in the world. I understand that's an orthogonal issue to QR code ordering, just in China it does appear to be correlated.

What changes is you no longer have a customer service rep on the line, which is what you de facto have with a server at your table. I could ask them questions about all sorts of specific ingredients on the menu so I end up guessing nothing about what I am ordering. For online menus, sometimes you take a shot into the dark because you can't get any description on the item besides "89. - Orange chicken" or however it comes up on the online menu. Does it come with rice? How big is the portion? Who knows.

Most ordering-apps I've tried allow customers to customize items and make special-requests. It's often easier to do these things on an app, and these modifications are automatically reflected on the receipt.

I guess an app could give people access to a webcam to engage in discussion with a cook as they prepare the food, for people who really want to watch the process and talk to the cook.. is that a feature you'd be interested in?

I mean, obviously, that wouldn't be right for a lot of places -- many eateries don't want people bothering the kitchen staff -- but if you've been going to places where people can interact with the kitchen-staff as they work, and if that's something the customers value, it'd seem like that process could be made more available.

Edit: Actually, when you were talking about engaging kitchen-staff, were you thinking of places like Subway? Or did you mean actually talking to people in a separate-kitchen, like you walk back there and chat with them while they make the food?

I think my comment is a bit centered around the Chinese experience.

A lot of smaller Chinese restaurants are just one guy at a wok standing near the entrance and a bunch of stools inside (sometimes also outside). They're commonly a husband and wife team, where the husband cooks and the wife acts as a runner or takes orders when it's too busy to bark what you want at the cook, but sometimes it's just the one person. If you get there early, sometimes the wife is preparing mise en place at one of the tables, or on a stool out front.

Another common layout for larger restaurants is tables and stools on the inside plus a small counter to pay, but there's a window at the back going into the kitchen where they might have a couple of cooks and more space to prep.

In both of these cases it's not unusual for customers to know the owners and engage in some smalltalk, whether about the food, or whatever other thing. It's a lot like a classic diner in the US, or a UK "caff".

These QR code ordering systems tend to be in place at a different type of restaurant. They are more like strip mall chain restaurants with optimized seating and standardized menus and nobody knows anyone or cares. Personally I don't see the point of these sorts of places, because if you're just getting Sysco-style meals without any service then you could cut out the middle man and buy the meal without going to a restaurant.

If QR-code based ordering doesn't decrease the quality of the food (I think everyone agrees it doesn't) why should others have to subsidize your 'personal touch' experience paying higher prices for increased wait staff attention when they may be OK with (and prefer!) impersonal service, which has a built-in lower cost of delivery?

It seems to me your focus is less on the quality of the food (provided it means quality standards) and more about the ambiance and experience of another human catering to your customized requirements. In any other domain this would be a luxury you'd be expected to pay more for.

I say bring on the impersonally delivered, high quality, cheap food!

As I mentioned in my earlier post, this is literally the opposite of my experience. The restaurants where I was made to order by QR code always cost more than the restaurants where I was not. In China, I suspect this is because QR code places tend to be national chains which have some kind of brand name recognition, so people pay more to prove their status.

On top of the increased cost, the food tends to be lower quality, not higher quality, presumably because the ingredients are mass produced and reheated by cooks who don't have any personal reputation at stake if they prepare something poorly. This is exactly what chain restaurants in the west are like, and they tend to be a much worse dining experience than either mom and pop or boutique outfits.

I really enjoy reading your comments :) Thanks! And I fully agree with you about how the restaurant restaurant should be.

"I guess an app could give people access to a webcam to engage in discussion with a cook as they prepare the food..."


I believe they’re referring to places small enough and slightly open so that you can see the few kitchen workers.

I ran into a few of those mom and pop joints in Korea as well. Basically every 김밥 (kimbap) shop is kinda like subway where you can see them prepare the food.

I believe they were talking about how interacting with an actual human is part of the experience of going out for them. And just going to a restaurant in order to fiddle with a menu screen and order kind of defeats the purpose since you could just do that with takeout? It doesn’t bother me either way, but I prefer restaurants that have a button on the table to call the server.

Yeah, QR code menus are superior, until you have to use them. They never have instructions and every device does it differently and not in obvious ways. The only instructions you get from a stressed out server is "just scan it." Ok, how?

This is a great way of making tech look stupid to luddites and it reminds me of modern UX trends that expect people to just know how to do some mysterious thing--and developers rely on most users assuming they are the stupid ones because they don't know how to use an app's hidden functionality. Not. Accessible.

Every restaurant used to have the same UX, now they are all different. Stupid.

I don't understand the "now they're all different" facet of this. In my experience during the pandemic, they are all the same, just in a way that is not discoverable, as you point out. But after the first time I realized I just needed to open my camera app to make it work, it became a really nice experience. There is a balance here - discoverability is good until it becomes clutter because nobody needs to discover it anymore because it is commonplace, and symmetrically a mechanism that is quick and easy but lacks discoverability is bad until it becomes commonplace and second nature. A great example of this is the mechanisms to open camera apps on phones (which this QR menu thing builds on!): there is no way to discover that I need to press my power button twice to open my camera, but once I know this and it is second nature, there is absolutely no better way to accomplish that task.

It's also super fun to download a 45mb menu on your cellular data plan every time you want to look at the menu.

Exciting positive answers to this problem would be:

1) All such restaurants offering free open wifi + 2) A commercialized system that hosts the menu PDFs on tiny https servers on the restaurant's wifi router and serves them locally (potentially avoiding issues with far-away outages and also saving on the internet bandwidth for the common case).

Now I have to connect to their wifi before I can see the menu? And the restaurant is expected to maintain a menu server? What is MORE practical about this?

They can change prices and/or update the menu at any time and they avoid printing, storing, handing out, collecting, and cleaning the physical menus.

An appliance menu server would cost practically nothing if they're already offering Wi-Fi or use electronic POS/ordering systems.

No, you can use your cellular connection all you want. It'll just eat your data. If you want to trade a little effort for a little data saving, that option is open to you.

That depends on whether the @ff317's solution (2) also includes availability over the internet.

Interesting, so the presence of a QR menu is a restaurant-quality filter perhaps.

If they have a QR menu move on until you find one that does not ... you are likely getting a more authentic meal.

My big issue, which should be easily correctable, is that every menu QR code I've scanned results in a PDF that I have to download.

Nobody wants PDFs. On desktop sites, it's common to add a (PDF Warning) to links that lead to PDFs.

And on a phone, PDFs are even worse. They're almost always sized for the desktop, which means you have to pinch and scroll to see anything, and I don't download stuff from Firefox often enough to know how to find and delete the menus for every single restaurant I eat at.

If the menu QR code led to a responsive website, I'd be fine with it. When the QR code leads to a PDF, it makes me angry. If the QR code led to an app I had to install, I'd walk directly out of the restaurant.

I love scanning a QR code and having a pdf open in my browser. Faster than waiting for wait staff and easier for restaurants to change the menu. I think most people disagree that nobody wants PDFs.

PDFs are better than a paper menu, for sure, but wouldn't you prefer a website that scales properly and allows you to place orders? I think that is the point parent post is making.

This was exactly my experience as well when I recently went to some restaurants for the first time since pre-pandemic.

GP's experience sounds great; an interactive mobile/responsive website that I can directly order from would be more convenient than the traditional experience. PDFs are basically fine, but given the option I'd rather have a physical menu.

(Thankfully, I haven't yet heard of or encountered a QR code that redirected me to an app; that would be a pretty quick way to make me leave if no alternative were provided.)

Which mobile browser downloads PDFs instead of just rendering them?

All of them. The data still needs to be downloaded to be rendered.

Maybe there's some setting I'm missing, but the default android experience seems to be Chrome downloads a pdf which then is read by Google drive.

Not really the issue with PDFs. Even if they are directly rendered the problem is they have a non-responsive rendering which forces pinch zoom and scrolling to see/read things.

DDG is one example. I prefer it this way because I can choose how to view it, and not have to redownload it in case I lose the page or the cache for the file.

Firefox Mobile

> On desktop sites, it's common to add a (PDF Warning) to links that lead to PDFs.

In 2000 maybe?

> It's really interesting to see how a crowd of tech workers who generally are trying to pave the way are so quick to attack and be negative.

This statement is utterly useless. It provides no value to the discussion, doesn't make any interesting points, and tries to emotionally manipulate the reader.

> Like all things in life, when its implemented well it works and when it does not it is terrible.

HN readers seem to be bearish on these technologies because they're usually implemented poorly, and there's very little reason to believe that the situation will substantially improve anytime soon (or at all). People generally discriminate between restaurants based on price and food, not menus, so there's little incentive for restaurants to improve electronic menus - similar to business websites - meaning that if QR code menus gain wide adoption, we're extremely likely to see significantly worse experiences near-universally.

Even more so: "a crowd of tech workers who generally are trying to pave the way" are professionally engaged in using, critiquing and developing user interfaces. These are the people you hire to tell you "this wasn't a good idea, here's a better one".

Super-thin phones.

Touch-screen controls in automobiles.

QR codes instead of menus.

All of these things seem nifty to marketing departments, may be accepted by consumers, and are detrimental to actual usage.

> Even more so: "a crowd of tech workers who generally are trying to pave the way" are professionally engaged in using, critiquing and developing user interfaces.

“I don’t like it” is not a critique though. The people you would want to hire could try to answer “here is an imperfect solution, how would you improve it?”

The article gives reasons why it is an imperfect solution.

The point was not about the article but the "crowd of HN".

> > It's really interesting to see how a crowd of tech workers who generally are trying to pave the way are so quick to attack and be negative. > This statement is utterly useless. It provides no value to the discussion, doesn't make any interesting points, and tries to emotionally manipulate the reader.

Funny enough this applies more to your statement than the statement you're responding to. They were making a meta-critique of the general discussion here, and I find it to be a legitimate perspective.

Personal sentiments on liking or not liking QR codes, which any lay user can make, does not make as interesting a discussion as a principled approach to what components of the UX flow exactly fails, whether these failures are essential to QR codes or specific to the implementations today, and how/if they could be addressed as an engineering exercise.

It is akin to saying "this first gen ICE automobiles suck, bring back horses" and go on to discuss the annoying doors of the car while the unexploited fertile land of discussions await on the actual engine, cost benefit analyses, incremental improvements, adoption barriers, UX flows etc.

> It's really interesting to see how a crowd of tech workers who generally are trying to pave the way are so quick to attack and be negative.

It's really interesting to see how a different crowd to tech workers who are constantly in contact with the myriad of ways in which technology can be harmful to human interaction and happiness can be so quick to downplay any legitimate criticisms.

> Go to a restaurant I just get shown where to sit and don't need to waste time with the host/server giving me menus or telling me anything.

...in which you view a human being as a hurdle to be surpassed rather than a human being.

Conversations with waitstaff are often some of the most rewarding parts of a restaurant experience. Even just focusing on the food, the best way to find out about dishes you haven't tried is by talking to waitstaff. And I've formed great friendships with waitstaff at places I go regularly.

For sure, I guess for me there is a time and place. Sometimes I am eating because I am hungry and sometimes I eat for the experience. For the former I like the idea of using a QR code. I never had troubles in China talking about the food when I used a QR code. I don't have romantic ideas about it though, I still was able to interact with the owners or wait stuff just as easily. Reminded me of the use of vending machine tickets in Japanese mom and pop restaurants.

I see any system that requires people to have and use a smart phone to be negative for inclusivity and accessibility. Use this technology for progessive enhancement, not as a replacement.

Yeah, I could see something like an open restaurant where you come in, scan the QR code, place the order, and get/pay for your food all without really interacting with someone. That'd be great, but I'd want a "push for server" button on every table for people without smart phones or people that don't know how to interact with QR codes.

It certainly could be made super slick (embedding the table number, for example, in each QR code).

But with all that, it'd cost money. So pretty much the only places you'll see do this well are big chains which tend to have crappy food.

> Yeah, I could see something like an open restaurant where you come in, scan the QR code, place the order, and get/pay for your food all without really interacting with someone. That'd be great, but I'd want a "push for server" button on every table for people without smart phones or people that don't know how to interact with QR codes.

Your belief that it's good to cut out a human interaction is one you should reconsider.

I'm open to reconsidering it. What's the evidence that human interaction with restaurant servers is good for either the servers or the person being served? Do people that pack in lunches to work experience lower health than those that eat out?

You're starting from an opinion that you haven't presented any evidence for, and then asking for evidence when someone disagrees with you? Let's be clear here: we're both presenting opinions without scientific studies behind them.

The study you proposed doesn't address the topic at hand, because there's a very large confounding factor: packed lunches are going to have very different foods in them than what you'd get at a restaurant, which has obvious health implications.

I think most people have life experience that shows them that in-person human interaction is a necessary component to human happiness, especially after the pandemic. Maybe somehow you've never experienced or heard other people's experiences of that, but if that's the case, you really should seek out the opinions of people who aren't like you more often. Maybe start with the waitstaff at your local restaurant. ;)

Are you aware that there's a widespread feeling that tech/business folks are out of touch with reality?

> You're starting from an opinion that you haven't presented any evidence for, and then asking for evidence when someone disagrees with you? Let's be clear here: we're both presenting opinions without scientific studies behind them.

Correct. Like most of my life, I have things that are opinions but I'm more than willing to change my mind if evidence comes along.

And to be clear, I did not make any assertions with my initial post about health and wellbeing from contactless ordering. It was you that came here to tell me:

> Your belief that it's good to cut out a human interaction is one you should reconsider.

The quote you quoted said nothing to that effect.

Personally, I don't believe it has an effect one way or the other. My opinion is this would probably only really matter for someone who's only social interactions came from talking to the waitstaff. That'd be a pretty rare individual.

> I think most people have life experience that shows them that in-person human interaction is a necessary component to human happiness

Correct, I don't disagree with this

> Maybe somehow you've never experienced or heard other people's experiences of that

Incorrect. What I've not experienced is any positive impact from talking to waitstaff, store clerks, bar tenders, valets, etc. I, like I'd assume most other people, do not get my human interaction from people I purchase services from. I get it from my family, friends, and coworkers.

Perhaps if I were proposing we move to a world where everyone lives in a box never interacting with another individual, you'd have more of a point. That said, my week is no better or worse as a result of moving to online banking or when I have groceries delivered.

I could concede that if the only form of human interaction someone experiences is from a restaurant wait staff then there'd be a net negative for that individual. However, getting food delivered or preparing food at home hardly seems like the problem you are painting. Nor does it seem like me being "out of touch with reality".

Perhaps another concession I'd give is that I could see how limiting human interaction would minimize opportunities for empathy. Certainly, I think more people would be empathetic to field hands were they to directly interact with them.

But, again, I don't see how that really translates when talking about food prep at a restaurant.

Main downside: I don't always take my phone with me. I don't hate QR code, but adding a "backup" menu that is accessible without phones is a must I believe.

Agreed - I actually don't mind the QR thing when done elegantly (it often isn't but that's not the QR's fault) but what about travelers without a phone plan? Or folks who don't want to carry a phone?

If you're going to print out a half dozen menus, you're pretty much right back where you started.

I still have my phone with me when I leave the house, but because now I work from home and don't need much mobil data, I downgraded my data plan to 250mb per month.

I can see at some point I'll try to open a menu but won't be successful

On the flip side, I don't always take my wallet with me. It seems a lot easier to go phone only (especially in China) than wallet only.

this whole pandemic thing really worried me. I leave my phone at home on purpose all the time. I really struggled with everything from food to doctors. phones are becoming a requirement.

I give it about 3 months before these QR code menus start asking for your email "for deals" before they'll display the menu. And I'm sure some great new YC backed startup will be created to collect all the data and aggregate it with other data broker information.

That's a bit like saying "why bother serving wine from bottles with impractical corks, each table should just have a wine hose with a tap". Going to a restaurant is an experience. A waiter, a physical menu and lots of other inefficiencies are part of that experience.

Definitely not the same so please don't imply as such. Everyone has a different taste for their dining experiences definitely. For me, the normal I need something to eat experience does not need a waiter. But definitely if I a going to a nice place to sit, relax, enjoy the service, yes a waiter, paper menu is a nice experience. These are very different segments in the dining market imo. Kind of like how your normal restaurant is not going to use Tock for reservations.

"Wine hose" you say, I'm interested ...

> why bother serving wine from bottles with impractical corks, each table should just have a wine hose with a tap

To be fair, you just 100% described a keg. It's just not common -- or is even non-existent? -- for wine to come in kegs.

Wine is stored in barrels, which is pretty much the same thing, and there is of course the barbaric bag in box, but it’s not served that way in many reputable restaurants…

It's odd because it almost seems like a middle ground of having both options is unacceptable. It's chalk and cheese, black or white.

You can literally have both physical and digital menu's and cater to everyone's needs. No harm done.

People who loathe the idea can carry on, people that love the idea can carry on.

That's what I'm seeing at restaurants around here, both options. Default to digital, with the offer of a physical menu if you need. It's nice. Is that not common?

Going from the mass hate for QR code menus you would think not? Honestly, what's up with these polar opposites on HN. Never a middle ground.

Having both could cause issues, as the digital menu is much easier to update than the physical one, which can lead to inconsistencies. Not that it means it shouldn't be an option, it's just something that needs to be considered

Inconsistency between the digital and physical menu isn't really the problem. We care more about consistency between either menu and the single source of truth, which is what the chef is able to prepare today.

Depends on what the inconsistency is. You order something from the menu and later find out it's more expensive and the updated price is only shown in the digital menu. Depending on where you are that'd be an instant win in court I believe.

This is very true.

I wonder how often restaurants change their menus. I live on the coast of Poland and 5 years later of living here, I can probably tell you what the menu is for the 5 'hot' locations to go to because it literally hasn't changed.

Then you might wonder whether the restaurant can't change their menus often because paper menu is hard to change!

I would think a paper menu will be easier to change?

Depends on the restaurant. Cooks are human too, so some will get bored after making the same exact thing for a year. Others might never get bored after a decade, or decide to keep making a dish because it sells well.

> The benefits to me of not having physical menus is huge

But the negatives are also huge.

- My phone is slow, so it's painful to navigate the menu

- Half the restaurants have horrible UI for their menu

- You can't casually peruse the menu, you have to go item by item down the list.

At least to me, it's an awful experience.

I’ve had experiences ordering through a QR code in San Francisco which were even more seamless: pre-pay for your food with Apple Pay right off the website, tip included. Scan again if you want to order something else. Everyone at the table can order separately.

I don’t hate it, but I don’t love it. It was like a custom web-DoorDash for one table with only one restaurant option. Probably someone could run with that and scale it up to a food court without much difficulty and a willing mall partner. Efficient, but if I gave a damn about the economics I would cook at home and this definitely removes some of the hospitality of the hospitality business.

I suppose for me, going to a restaurant is not a matter of "efficiency". I go there to socialize with friends, to enjoy the atmosphere, to interact with people. If service is slow, then, yes, I get annoyed. However, I don't think I ever go into a restaurant thinking, "I wish they would make restaurant ordering more efficient." If I want that, I go to a fast food place or place that does takeout.

> The benefits to me of not having physical menus is huge.

"Huge" might be a bit of an overstatement relating to such a minor convenience.

So you are speaking for my opinions and feelings now? Y'all are crazy.

I guess passing accusations of hyperbole are violence now.

> Like all things in life, when its implemented well it works

This is false. A QR-code based menu does not work for people that do not use a smartphone.

I don't think it is bad as an option, but I resent it as the only method.

* Homeless/poor may not have phones

* Old people don't have smartphones or know how to use them

* I don't want to have my phone with me at all times. I actually leave my phone in the car when dining sometimes.

* Something as simple as a listing of options, which is often static for weeks or more at a time, now depend on a WAN connection! It's meatspace dependency hell.

I know "menu costs" are such a thing that it is taught in accounting and business classes. Nevertheless, the idea of getting rid of a hard menu, even as a backup, is absurd, unnecessary, and dare I use a buzzword I hate, "privileged".

We went to a restaurant last week for the first time in a year, and sat there for 10 minutes waiting for a menu. The person who seated us didn’t tell us about the QR code. I discovered it after idly looking at the piece of paper on the table (which previously I assumed was an ad for drink specials).

A few minutes later I witnessed an elderly couple experiencing the same thing. They sat for 10 minutes expectantly waiting for menus to be delivered.

Lame experience.

> Like all things in life, when its implemented well it works

As does a physical menu.

I don't want to take my phone out when dining.

A little while ago, I was making labels for cannabis products. All cannabis products need to be tested by a lab to show their constituent properties (pesticides, THC, CDB, etc)

One of the things I did was create a QR code on the labels such that they pointed to a bitly address which then redirected to the PDF of the lab results for each product.

This allowed for the consumer to actually read the Lab results, and it provided an litmus to the interest in each product by count of scans.

I loved it, it worked really well - but the company wasnt too fond of showing the direct lab results for the reason that the PDFs had the manufacturing facilities address on the PDF...

Could have done it better, but the overall idea was sound and was very easy to implement. An admin assistant could build this out.

Thought of also tying it to slack or something such that we could just have a product interest channel and get an alert any time the products were scanned into that channel...

There were actually a number of creative things that could be done using QR codes.

This is great for very small packaged goods, such as pre-rolls, wax, diamonds, etc - where you have very little space on the package, and are already regulated on exactly what information you must include on the packaging, so if you wanted to provide more detailed product info, this would work well..

I love this. It reminds me of transparency from amazon. Products have a QR code on the outside of the packaging to have some minimal effort prevention on counterfeits. Includes some metadata like manufacturing date and location.


Huh, yeah the basic intent is the same as with Transparency (hadn't heard about that service until today) -- but its super simple to build out, and any company can easily do it...

There is a bad-ass product from Seagull Scientific, called "barTender" (as in Barcode Tender) -- which is free to use, and does any and all barcodes/QR codes - and label document design.

The only cost is a $500/$600 license for actually connecting it to a printer - but it makes it a breeze to create awesome labels, and print them out en-mass (like many thousands on the high speed printers)...

You can hook it up to a DB or a spreadsheet for pulling all your product labeling info easily to fields so they auto fill for the products you are printing.

Also, with using bitly - you also get a map of the geoip location of each scan - so you can see where interest is high geographically...

> I say this as a westerner but perhaps the west is not ready for it yet

This seems like an odd take. I'd be interested in tangible data, but I'd be inclined to believe that most tech-affluent people are probably OK with QR codes being the norm, in general. It saves money, paper, and isn't really a hard step for anyone with a phone. In general the west is pretty pro-tech.

> I'd be inclined to believe that most tech-affluent people are probably OK with QR codes being the norm, in general

Everyone I know, "tech-affluent" and tech-savvy alike, hate them. Next time you go out for a meal with a large group, ask for physical menus and gauge the reaction of those around you - likely that most of them will ask for one too.

I think this is more than just a difference in technology. The entire culture of restaurant dining is different in China. The greatest example of this is the fact that servers in China will always wait to approach the table until they are called over. This is quite different from the American approach in which the servers always come to us without being asked.

You're saying it's okay to require the entire stack of technology of 50+ years of CS and hw/sw engineering to be able to order something at a restaurant at negligible benefit is something desirable?

Requiring an inordinate amount of technological sophistication/complexity for simple things is how to build vulnerable systems.

Already in the US, I'm seeing some restaurants where you pay right at the table as well.

In NYC, you can see this at World's Wurst [1] in SoHo.

[1] https://www.google.com/maps/place/World's+Wurst/@40.7279645,...

The current state of tech is pretty horrible. The web is a terrible platform for how it is being used today. There is little to no innovation happening anymore, and everything driven purely by advertisements and user-hostile practices to increase revenue over usability. It's very difficult to not be pessimistic about tech.

> Like all things in life, when its implemented well it works and when it does not it is terrible.

for a good example of this look at the iPhone's predecessors and the iPad's predecessors... before those the PDAs were basically awful and internet phones were junk. the iPad basically created a wide-spread tablet market.

I agree with the efficiency sentiment. Nothing worse than waiting on a waiter for what feels like hours at a restaurant when the chef could just be preparing my meal.

I would also be okay with an NFC approach or both NFC / QR code approach, NFC stickers are cheap and can do similar to QR codes.

Sounds nice until your menus have pop-unders and you need adblock to order food.

"The benefits to me of not having physical menus is huge."

Come now. Let's not get carried away.

This setup seems beneficial to both restaurant owners and customers in China. The faster ordering process saves time for servers, which reduces labor costs, and the savings can be passed on to customers.

But it cannot work in America because of the tipping culture.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact