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Why aren't you updating menus?

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I’ve mentioned more than a few times lately how important menus are to the guest experience. Last month we discussed why some restaurants don’t drop off dessert menus at tables during lunch. Here’s something else for us to discuss.

Lately, while visiting restaurants and brewpubs, there are often no beer menus or, more likely, the menus are inadequate. I tip my hat to enthusiastic brewers who are creating beers so fast that their menus can’t keep up. Too often, though, a customer who orders a beer off a menu is told by a server that the brew is not available. The menu had not been updated to remove unavailable beers or include new ones.

Another problem is that when no menu exists or it hasn’t been updated, many servers can’t remember necessary details about a particular brew. I’m no beer aficionado, but there are some basics about a beer I want to know, not the least of which is the alcohol content. There’s a big difference between a beer that has a 4-percent alcohol content and one that has 8 percent. There are times when I will have a beer at lunch and I don’t want to get bushwacked by a high-alcohol beer. The stakes are even higher at night when I’m driving.

Here’s the thing: Paper menus can be updated and printed in a matter of minutes. This is 2015! Here’s a conversation I had recently with a server after perusing a beverage menu that had not been updated. “I’ll have so and so beer.” “I’m sorry, we’re out of that.” “Okay, then I’ll have this beer.” “We’re out of that one, too.” “Really, then I’ll have this beer.” “You’re not going to believe this, but we don’t have that either.”  

What’s hard to believe is that they don’t simply update a printed paper menu each day with their current beers. Not cool when the proprietor swings the bat three times and strikes out.

The most confounding experience I’ve had recently was at a sports bar that lists all of its beers on a flat-screen monitor above the bar. The place has so many beer offerings that the monitor flips the electronic page two or three times so you can view the full list. Sounds so very high tech, but so annoying. If you’re not positioned in the right seat, you have to get up and walk over to the monitor, which is high above the bar. And while you’re checking out the list, the electronic page flips to the next round of beers. I’ve been in this place at least a dozen times and with dozens of people, and not one of them is happy with this setup. I wonder why some technogeek thought this system would be better than simply offering a printed list of current beers.

As I’ve mentioned way too often in this column, it’s the simple things that count, and it doesn’t get more simple than a current, printed beer menu each day. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Please email me at [email protected].

Michael Sanson, Editor-in-Chief
email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MikeSansonRH

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