The End of Takeout Menus?
Last week, The Daily Meal’s Arthur Bovino declared the end of the paper takeout menu with a provocative post:
“New Yorkers, you want Grand Sichuan. You want to be sure you can get “Pork Soup Dumpling” at a moment’s notice. Sure, that big maroon “Zagat Rated” box at the top of the menu makes it seem better, but Google bought Zagat, right? So soon, they’re more likely to have updated results than the menu you’ve had in your drawer for months anyway.”
Excellent point, and needless to say members of the Food Genius team had some strong opinions of our own. Here’s what Food Genius co-founder Ben Stanley has to say in response:
“Think about all the great aspects of a truly memorable dining experience: The taste of the food, the service from the wait staff, the music, the room temperature, the company, the conversations, the pace of service; it goes on and on. Heck, the New York Times has even published a laundry list of rules that business owners can follow.
What is interesting to note about all these bullet points is that they all relate to a diner’s experience inside the restaurant. Impacting a diner outside of the restaurant has become just as important. I personally see the two biggest drivers in this area to be reviews by diners and the restaurant’s menu .
Reviews from diners are pretty simple. The restaurant has played their move and is waiting for the customer to make the next. It’s the restaurants job to distill this information into areas of improvement. =A menu, on the other hand, is an art form. A menu is a restaurant’s business card to a hungry diner. It is the first impression to a diner before they even see, smell, or taste any food. This business card contains a wealth of information that can make or break the diner’s decision to go to your restaurant and eat. Scattering menus throughout the city was the food service industry’s attempt to get this information accessible to a larger audience of people.
I do believe that we will see the end of the paper take-out menu on the doorstep. However, we are seeing a repetition of the past. Restaurants have scattered their information freely onto the web, instead of doorsteps; cluttering it with digital take-out menus that aren’t consistent, interactive, or accessible.
In today’s age of technology, so much more can be done with the information on those menus. As the menu digitizes, it becomes a direct link between the restaurant and the consumer. It is possible for restaurants to learn about their diners before they come in, just like reviews for after they’ve dined.
Restaurants can learn what it is that makes “Pan roasted black mussels, Mexican chorizo, market chiles & cilantro 10” seem delicious to some and unappealing to others (This was fantastic by the way, courtesy of Starbelly in San Francisco).
New technology has created a lot more responsibilities and opportunities for the food service industry. Understanding the needs of hungry consumers is key. The goal of Food Genius is to make the voice of the consumer clearer.”
So what do you think? Do you still rely on take-out menus when making dining decisions or are you paper-free?