A dining innovation that once looked like the future has worn out its welcome with many restaurateurs, customers and servers who say it takes the joy out of dining.
Heavenly Buffaloes, a chain of restaurants with locations in three North Carolina college towns, would seem tailor-made for QR-code menus. Its customers tend to be young and tech-savvy. Most come in hungry, many tipsy. And the menu isn’t exactly complicated.
“It’s chicken wings and beer,” said Bo Sayre, the company’s district manager. “That’s what we do. Not a lot of people are asking, ‘What beer pairs well with this chicken wing?’”
Like other restaurant owners and managers around the country, Mr. Sayre put digitalized menus on all his tables in the early, don’t-touch-anything stage of the pandemic, when contactless service was considered essential. But over time, fewer and fewer diners have paid them any notice.
Heavenly Buffaloes may be at the vanguard of a shift in the national experiment with online menus, an invention that not long ago seemed like the way of the future. Today, even though many restaurants still have “scan the code” cards tucked into napkin holders or pasted onto the corners of tables, customers seem to be ignoring them. And many restaurants have returned to using only paper menus.