I was out to dinner at a Boston white tablecloth restaurant a few weeks ago with a coworker.  The waitress plopped down a couple of menus and a fairly extensive wine list over the usual pleasantries one would expect at any fine dining establishment. My coworker looked over the menu while I reviewed the wine list. The waitress promptly came over after about 5 minutes and asked us if we had any questions about the menu, the wine list, and to take our drink order. This created an awkward moment since my coworker had not yet seen the wine list and I hadn’t had time to fully digest the dinner options although I was doing my best to multi task between the two menus. We told the waitress we needed additional time to decide. I then turned my attention to the menu, passing the wine list to my colleague. After a few minutes of noodling, we had decided on our appetizers and dinner entrees; however, we were still passing the wine list back and forth in an attempt to settle on the perfect combination to go with dinner. I finally settled on a nice glass of Bramosia Chianti as a compliment to my herb crusted veal main dish after asking the waitress for her recommendation.

A few days later I was on a conference call with my coworker and we digressed from business to discussing our fabulous dinner out. This got me thinking about the wine list. Other than asking the waitress for an additional wine list, was there a technology solution? What if the restaurant had a mobilized version of their website? Would it be possible to review the wine list on my Smartphone?
After discussing this with other team members at my company, we came up with a simple solution: place a
 QR code (Quick Response) on a 3 ½ x 2 seating card typically used for weddings and formal events in a stylish table stand on each table. The QR code would link directly to the mobilized version of the restaurant website allowing patrons to review the wine list or menu tableside, or at the bar. On the back of the seating card, the restaurant could imprint a QR code linked to their Facebook page.
QR codes have been around since 1994, but their uses in our everyday lives since the advent of Smartphones is evolving. Everyone…from supermarkets to the U.S. Post Office is testing them out. According to
 comScore, 20 million Americans scanned QR codes on their Smartphones in Oct. of 2011 with 9.8% scanning a QR code while in a restaurant. QR codes could be used for a verity of restaurant applications such as viewing a wine list on a Smartphone, promotions, takeout ordering, online reservations or tableside mobile payments. One objection to QR codes is that they are ugly, but there are out-of-the-box solutions that allow you to make them look sexier by adding a background logo. With 20 million people scanning QR codes and 50% owning Smartphones in the U.S., the time is right to get a mobile version of your website and think of creative ways to use QR codes to bring in more business for your restaurant.

Please share with the community about your use of QR codes at your restaurant.

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  • Jim, I like your video idea. I agree, not all restaurants are candidates for table tents. In the case of a white table cloth, you could put a QR code card in with the guest check to drive traffic to your mobile website (menu/wine list) and your Facebook page after the fact. I'm from the boomer generation, so pulling out your Smartphone at a classy restaurant is probably not cool. However, as we know, the millennials look at the world differently. Adoption of technology will happen at a slower pace in the restaurant industry, but it will happen.

  • I like how you are processing.  QR codes in restaurants that either go to the wine list or recommended pairing, videos of exhibiton style cooking of menu items to entice, source of where the menu components come (video be really cool), etc.  Not sure you would have to put a card on the table.  Be patient Jon, operators are catching on.  I would also be patient and not let waitstaff rush you.  I always take my time when it comes to ordering and eating.  I am the guest.

  • This is such a good idea and makes so much sense - bravo!

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