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Non-contact hacks for restaurants: How to use QR codes for online menus in your restaurant

3 August 2020 Small Business Advice

After their lockdown closure in March, a lot of restaurants are now back serving hungry customers their favourite and sorely missed grub. Yet the restaurant experience as we formerly knew it is unlikely to return any time soon. 

From 2m tables to temperature tests, minimising local outbreaks and close contact is pivotal for the survival of the hospitality industry in the coming months. 

However, there have been some positives to come out of the crisis. The uptake in technology from a number of different restaurant owners has shown ingenuitive and savvy solutions for contactless catering. One technology that has took off is the QR code.

What is a QR code?

QR is short for quick response, which is the USP and desired outcome of a QR code. First introduced in 1994 in Japan for the automotive industry, the popularity and usefulness of QR codes spread across a number of countries and industries. 

The QR code itself is like a barcode and is a machine-readable optical label that holds information about the item to which it is attached. These codes will typically contain data for a locator, identifier, or tracker that points to a website or application.

How does a QR code work for a customer?

Quick response codes work in a similar way to barcodes on products. They are made up of a specific sequence of small black squares and dots. When a customer scans the code on their smartphone, it translates the code into useful and readable information.

Often, by scanning the QR code, customers will be sent automatically to a website or application which holds all of the information related to the product or service.

How can restaurants use QR codes for contact-free menus?

Creating a QR code menu can be really simple and free if you already have your menu online via a website or PDF. Once you’ve created a digitalised menu, sat on a unique and secure URL, you’re pretty much all set.

You simply need to create a QR code that sends customers to your online menu from their smartphones. All they have to do is take a picture of it with their camera.

This is a quicker and easier way for customers to visit the exact page/menu on your site, without asking them to go on your website manually and find it.

As a short-term option for the pandemic, restaurants can create a free QR code online with a generator tool. is one free online generator. It allows you to input your menu URL and it produces a downloadable and embeddable code for you to print out and place on tables or print as stickers. 

You can export your created QR code into different image formats. offers downloads in PNG, JPG/JPEG, GIF, SVG, EPS, PDF and more.

Printing your QR codes

Remember, the whole point of having a QR code instead of a menu is to reduce the amount of things your customers have to touch. This means that you’ll want to display your codes in an accessible manner, without printing too much collateral.

Ideas for QR code menu displays

  • Print QR code stickers and place them directly onto tables, front windows or other clean surfaces
  • Print laminated QR code cards and have one on each table to be scanned 
  • If you’re takeaway only, have your QR menu displayed visibly in your restaurant windows and at different touch points 

Before printing your codes, make sure they work, and that you are not going to change your online menu. It’s easy to update the URL for your QR code using the free generator. 

However, if you have a problem with your supply chain that day and don’t have time to reprint your codes, make sure your serving staff are on hand to explain the differences to diners!


If you’re a restaurant owner running with limited serving staff, check out our guide with tips for increased efficiency and technical hacks that can help you run the floor.


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