Restaurants, Mind Your Fucking Menus

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The paper menu isn't inherently evil. It's the logical option for restaurants that update their menus frequently. Printed on a nice, heavy stock, it looks better, or at least more contemporary, than an old-school embossed tome.

But this week and last week, my reviews have noted paper menus that were in sorry shape: stained, creased, rife with misspellings. If I had photographic recall, I could add many more restaurants to this wall of shame.

This needs to stop.

Look. I get it. Paper and printer ink aren't free, and a restaurant's profit margin is already thinner than a St. Louis-style pizza. And in the rush and clamor of a busy service, it's a lot to ask of hosts and servers to look for dinged corners and splashed wine on every piece of paper that they recycle from one table to the next.

But that piece of paper is the crucial link between your customer and your kitchen. In my personal experience, as soon as I see a stain or tear or an egregious misspelling, I start wondering what other corners are being cut around me.

And few things will ruin my appetite for your roasted chicken or braised lamb or grilled steak or whatever more than what appears to be a speck of it on the menu in my hands.

(I should note that, when it comes to removing ruined paper menus from your supply, I'm already doing my part to help, as I'm as likely to, um, liberate mine for research purposes as I am to return it to my server.)

I'm willing to bet that whatever extra cost in paper and ink you might incur by being more vigilant about your menus you'll more than make up in pleased diners willing to return for another meal.

Oh, and as for the ruined menus you're removing from your supply: You are recycling all that paper, right?

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