Hot Takes Why the Restaurant Industry Is (And Will Continue to Be) Analog

4 min. read

April 24, 2023

In today's digital age, it's easy to get caught up in the idea that technology is the answer to everything.

From online menus to social media marketing, there's no shortage of tools available to restaurant owners looking to stay ahead of the curve. However, the truth is that the restaurant industry is inherently analog, and it will continue to be so for some time.

As someone with a background in tech, UI, and UX, I initially thought that the restaurant industry was ripe for a tech takeover. I believed that digital menus, online ordering systems, QR menus and social media marketing would revolutionize the way people dined out. However, after spending a few years in the industry, I quickly discovered that the opposite was true.

After nearly a decade as restauranteur, I can attest to the fact that people are not simply paying for food; they're paying for an experience. It's the feeling of walking into a restaurant and being greeted by a friendly host, the sound of laughter and conversation filling the room, and the smell of sizzling dishes and spices wafting through the air. These are the things that people crave, and it's the human connection that makes the restaurant industry thrive.

Despite the prevalence of technology and platforms, the restaurant industry seems to become more analog as time goes by. While online menus and ordering systems may be useful, they can't seem to replace the experience of flipping through a physical menu and chatting with the waiter about the chef's specials. It's the human element that makes the restaurant industry so unique and keeps people coming back for more. (Sort of like what happened with books and eBook readers).

It Tends to Be Love at First Sight

Watching other dishes pass by is another aspect of the analog experience that people crave. There's nothing quite like seeing a beautiful plate of food being delivered to another table and thinking, "I want that." It's an experience that can't be replicated with a digital menu, and it's one of the many reasons why people love dining out. Yes, you can see pictures and videos and 3D renders of your dishes, but—as I discovered during the lockdown—no amount of show-and-tell ever amounted to the positive reviews we get from patrons who appreciate the shiny coating over our in-menu photos.

Also, nobody likes QR Menus. Nobody.

We're Only Human.

The interactions between staff and customers are what make the experience so memorable, and it's something that can't be replicated with technology alone. From the waiter who takes your order to the chef who prepares your food, every person involved in the restaurant industry plays a crucial role.

Optimize for Analog

As a restauranteur, it's essential to prioritize the analog experience and recognize that it's the thing that makes the restaurant industry so special. So, the next time you're touching tables, take a moment to appreciate your customers going through your paper menu, the sound of laughter, and the human connection that makes the experience truly unforgettable. Focus on optimizing your analog experience instead of finding a way to shove tech into your customers' faces.

It's Not All Bad

While technology has certainly helped improve processes, cost management, and metrics, it can never replace the importance of human interaction. In the end, there's nothing to optimize if there are no people in your restaurant. It's the human connection that makes the restaurant industry so special, and it's what keeps people coming back for more.

That being said, technology can certainly play a valuable role in the restaurant industry. Online ordering systems, for example, can help streamline the ordering process and reduce wait times, improving the customer experience. Social media marketing can help restaurants reach a wider audience and build brand awareness. However, it's important to remember that technology is only a tool and should never replace the importance of human interaction.

To Wrap it Up...

In conclusion, while the restaurant industry has certainly been impacted by technology, it will always be an industry that thrives on human connection and analog experiences. As restauranteurs, it's important to recognize the value of technology but never lose sight of what makes our industry truly special. By prioritizing the analog experience and utilizing technology to enhance it, we can create unforgettable dining experiences for our customers and drive continued success for our businesses.