Restaurant Marketing Communications

How Restaurant Menus Evolved During COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic forced restaurants to make major changes, especially when it comes to their menus. And while some changes are temporary, some are most likely here to stay. At least for the foreseeable future. What will restaurant menus after COVID-19 look like? No one knows for certain. But the changes that have already happened may be a good indicator of what’s ahead. Let’s take a look.

Fewer Menu Items. Greater Kitchen Efficiency.

manager editing menu

Labor challenges, supply chain interruptions, and safety concerns caused restaurants to rethink their menu offerings. As a result, many restaurants have reduced ancillary items, eliminated single-dish ingredients, and limited customizable options to help save time, increase efficiency and focus on their core revenue-driving menu items. They’ve also reduced or ditched sharable items all together for safety reasons. But the good news is, most diners don’t mind. In fact, 76% of people have no problem with restaurants offering a reduced menu upon reopening.

Have Food. Must Travel.

Delivery man pick up food order

Due to lockdowns, capacity restrictions, and consumer safety concerns, off-premise preference has skyrocketed. So much so, that 92% of restaurant traffic is now off-premise. Since more people are using delivery services and grabbing to-go than ever before, this has caused an increase in challenges for operators, including more incomplete or incorrect orders, deliveries arriving late, and food being cold and unappetizing upon arrival. To combat this, restaurants are prioritizing menu items that will travel well for delivery and takeout. To-go packaging is also getting reimagined, with innovations in venting, insulation, dividers, and production materials to help food travel better.

Paperless & Disposable Menus

Restaurant owner putting a QR Menu on the table for contactless order

One of the biggest changes diners may notice in restaurants after COVID-19 is a lack of physical menus. Reducing or eliminating physical menus was prompted by safety concerns for staff and guests but has benefits for operators, including cost savings and increased efficiencies. As experts in menu design who work with numerous restaurant clients, Push developed Paperless Menu to give restaurants the ability to quickly and easily convert their physical menu into a robust interactive digital menu. Not only do digital menu solutions like Paperless Menu eliminate the production costs and waste associated with traditional physical menus, but they can also be instantly updated to accommodate today’s changing needs and unexpected challenges. Better for diners, operators, and the environment, digital menus in some form or another are here to stay.

More Innovative Value Options

Customer using credit card for payment

With so many people experiencing economic hardship during the pandemic, people are looking to get more for their money now more than ever. The fact that 66% of diners say “value” is a top factor when deciding where to eat has prompted many restaurants to make value offerings an even bigger deal. From new combo meals and food bundles to create your own at-home meal kits, restaurants are finding creative ways to provide larger portions at a greater price.

These menu changes came fast and furious due to the pandemic and some have been difficult to implement and adjust to for both guests and operators alike. But they aren’t all bad. In fact, many of these temporary solutions to unprecedented challenges have brought positive outcomes already and will continue to do so in the days, months, and years ahead. Welcome to the future. Can we take your order?