Why Digital Beats Chalk: How to Maintain Your Venue’s Style with a Digital Menu Board
By Bryce Patterson
Let’s face it: chalk is stylish. It adds a homey, classic vibe to a restaurant or bar, and there’s a lot to love in that old-school look.
That said, maintaining a chalk menu can also be a gigantic pain for a lot of businesses. It takes time and effort to update and can be tough to read. So can your bar or restaurant maintain a unique style while making the switch to digital? Absolutely. Let’s compare the two and explore some ways to maintain your existing vibe and improve the guest experience with intuitive technology.
Why Go Digital?
One of the biggest reasons that bars and restaurants switch to a digital menu board is flexibility. After all, most bars and restaurants need the ability to change their menu offerings on the fly. When a keg is kicked or the kitchen runs low on a specific menu item, there’s a ripple effect through your entire business.
When specific items run out, your staff ends up repeating these parts of the menu again and again, which can be difficult for customers to remember and process. It can also be frustrating- after all, they’ve made up their mind on a specific kind of experience, and it’s irritating (and time-consuming) to change. In a nutshell, it means that they spend more time ordering and deciphering the menu, and less time enjoying themselves.
Showcasing daily specials, unique deals, and happy hour items is difficult (and often confusing) when you’re unable to update your menu on the fly. Does your bar or restaurant offer a large range of craft beers, ciders, and unique cocktails? These can add another layer of complexity because they change so consistently with guest taps, seasonal brews, and more.
Readability is the other big concern for businesses using a chalk menu board. In the bright light of day, when customers are close to the menu, this is generally less of a concern. Things change once the sun goes down, though.
Overly bright lighting can really kill the ambience of your venue in the evening hours, but without it your customers may struggle to decipher the menu- a major frustration, particularly for older customers. In fact, 74% of consumers agree that an easy-to-read menu is a top priority for them.
With a digital menu board, customers can read and compare options from farther away, meaning they can make decisions while they wait, order more quickly, and get back to enjoying themselves. Not only do digital menu boards speed up the ordering process, they also decrease the amount of time that customers feel they are waiting because they’re more actively engaged during this down time. The higher level of engagement that comes with a digital menu can even increase dwell time.
Finally, chalk menu boards are less time-and-cost-effective than their digital brethren. Getting the design of your board just right in a way that’s both easy to read and in line with your branding is a process, and repeating that process over and over will increase your labor costs without much payoff for the business overall. Franchises and restaurants with multiple locations feel this even more acutely when changes are made that ripple through each location.
If you have a talented artist on staff who enjoys updating the menu, that’s great! As much as digital is generally better for overall guest experience, it’s totally possible to have both. A digital menu board just opens up a lot of possibilities that you just don’t get from chalk.
How Do I Maintain an Atmosphere that My Customers Love?
First thing’s first- as I mentioned above, you can absolutely feature both chalk and digital menus in your bar or restaurant. The trick is to avoid relying too heavily on chalk.
Your chalkboard can highlight some of the staples of your menu- i.e. items that are consistent customer favorites. Daily trivia can be a fun, simple use of a chalkboard, and chalk can be a great way to show off your social media handles as well. If you offer any kind of discount for customers that check-in at your location on social media, a chalkboard can be an eye-catching approach to showcasing this.
In general, a chalkboard is great for adding to the ambience, but becomes less helpful the more foundational it is for guest experience. Instead, it can be worth thinking of as a fun, stylish element of decor that improves patron experience.
So can a digital menu board maintain your branding and the aesthetic of your bar or restaurant? Evergreen offers a simple visual editor pre-stocked with thousands of high quality images to massively streamline the process of designing your digital menu. There’s something for everyone here, with an enormous range of styles, fonts, and other design elements to foreground your unique aesthetic.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a background in graphic design. There are tons of preset menus that can help you get started, before letting you take over and customize to your heart’s content. There’s even a chalk preset, if you’re so inclined.
Best of all, you can use the same tools to design your paper menus and the menu on your website, which makes it really simple to maximize brand consistency across materials. Any edits you make from your Evergreen dashboard will automatically update each of these.
Ready to give digital a shot? Learn more here.