WEB EXCLUSIVE MENU, a user-friendly digital platform, is coming to Raleigh in March—and may soon replace QR codes at restaurants.
Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, QR codes have become the norm when it comes to going out to eat or drink—in Raleigh and pretty much everywhere. But turns out, it’s not the only touch-free way to order from a local resto.
Enter MENU, a digital platform helping restaurants boost sales using photos and digital menus, while providing diners with pics of, well, menu items that are sure to make your mouth water (and help you figure out what to order!). After all, who doesn’t want to see what they’re gonna eat before they order it?
Starting in March, MENU is releasing an updated version (think significant changes to the front-end display of the platform) into primary Southeast cities among the likes of Nashville—plus our very own City of Oaks, as well as Charlotte and Asheville.
“As we release new features based on feedback from our current partners and their in-house guests, we are targeting new cities that mirror the demographic and business profile of Nashville,” says Dan Burkard, founder of MENU and co-creator of @wickedtasty. “We are choosing to invest in cities with a growing population of young professionals and a vibrant culinary and bar scene.”
Founded by Nashville resident Burkard, MENU (aka The Better MENU) was created to offer a more user-friendly model for guests while helping restaurants with menu management. The idea came to him during the spring of 2020 as restaurants were beginning to reopen during the pandemic and offering touchless options via QR Codes.
“… PDF menus weren’t designed to be viewed on a small screen, so I was like, ‘there’s got to be a better way for restaurants to be able to display their food to their guests and create a better menu experience,’” says Burkard. “… Why don’t we incorporate photography into a menu and really highlight what makes it unique for a restaurant, or their food or cocktail program.”
Burkard took his idea and ran with it, launching a beta version that he introduced to a few restaurants in the Nashville area in the summer of 2020. This allowed him to test out the display and see how guests responded to the more visually appealing menu. Then, during the summer of 2021, he rolled out the full version of the website, adding a back end to the portal that enabled his restaurant partners to manage their menus from their smartphones and other devices—among other things.
Since its inception, MENU has received great feedback from restaurant partners and their guests. Burkard notes that guests’ satisfaction with their meals increases when they see their food and drinks prior to ordering, and they spend, on average, 9% to 12% more during their visit. He further explains that restaurants can save approximately $5,200 a year on printing costs by switching to MENU, depending on how often they normally update their menu.
“People love it,” he says. “We have a mission to help digitize 10,000 restaurants by 2027.” We’ll eat to that!