Digital Menu Boards vs. Traditional Menus: Which is Right for Your Restaurant?

Restaurant menus have stayed relatively static over the years – printed menus and menu boards are still the norm. However, technology now allows restaurants to implement digital restaurant menu boards and electronic displays. These offer benefits like easy updates and visual appeal. However, traditional menus still have advantages too. So how do restaurants determine if they should go digital or stick with print?

What are Digital Restaurant Menu Boards?

Digital restaurant menu boards are LCD or LED displays that can showcase menu items, prices, photos, and more. Rather than printing entirely new menus, restaurants can update offerings, tailor menus to different periods, or run promotions by simply changing the content on the screens.

Digital restaurant menu boards provide flexibility and creativity. Restaurants can display menu items in an eye-catching way with high-quality photos, videos, and graphics. Animations and transitions between screens can further capture customers’ attention. Studies show digital restaurant menu boards and enhanced visuals increase order sizes.

Digital Signage Beyond Restaurant Menu Boards

While this article focuses on restaurant menus, it’s important to note that digital signage has other uses too. For instance, electronic shelf edge labels have become widely adopted in grocery and retail stores. Instead of printed price tags, these stores install small digital displays along shelf edges to display pricing. This enables easy price changes or running promotions.

So digital signage Makers introduces advantages like flexibility across industries. But back to the comparison between digital and print restaurant menus…

Benefits of Digital Restaurant Menu Boards

  • More Flexibility and Frequent Updates

One major benefit of digital restaurant menu boards is flexibility. Restaurants can update menus, pricing, and other content instantly. This means they can tailor offerings to different times of day, test new menu items, or run daily specials. Printed restaurant menu boards don’t allow frequent changes.

  • Greater Ability to Display Details

Static printed restaurant menu boards limit information due to space constraints. But digital restaurant menu boards allow restaurants to showcase more menu options and provide additional details on dishes, ingredients, cooking methods, etc. Digital boards can also advertise promotions or upcoming events.

  • Potential for Customization

Digital restaurant menu boards enable customization based on data integration and analytics. For example, by integrating with a POS system, restaurants could display targeted upsell recommendations or promotions to return customers. This type of personalization isn’t possible with traditional printed menus.

  • Enhanced Visuals and Engagement

As mentioned, digital restaurant menu boards allow restaurants to highlight dishes and pricing with high-quality photos, videos, and graphics. This visual enhancement makes meals more appealing and draws attention to increase orders. Animations and transitions between screens further engage customers.

Benefits of Traditional Printed Menus

  • Familiarity and Expectations

For many customers, a printed menu or menu board is an expected part of the dining experience. They find comfort and control in the familiar static format. Digital restaurant menu boards could feel distracting or overwhelming.

  • Added Ambiance

A beautifully designed print menu can enhance the atmosphere and interior design of certain restaurant styles. It also provides a nice physical menu for customers to review. Some may feel digital restaurant menu boards seem out of place.

  • Reliability

With traditional printed menus, restaurants don’t have to worry about technical problems disrupting service. Power outages or internet issues won’t impact a paper printout. Digital restaurant menu boards going offline unexpectedly can frustrate guests.

  • Lower Costs

Printed menus have lower initial costs compared to purchasing digital screens and hardware/software. However, digital pays for itself over time through benefits like reduced printing expenses.

Key Considerations for Your Restaurant

Before selecting digital or print menus, consider factors like:

  • Restaurant concept complexity – Quick service may stick with print, while full service benefits more from digital.
  • Customer demographics and expectations – Older crowds often prefer print menus.
  • Ambiance and aesthetics – Ensure the menu format suits your interior design.
  • Costs – Compare printing vs. digital expenses long-term.

The Right Choice Depends on Your Needs

The decision between digital and traditional restaurant menus depends on your concept, brand, budget and clientele. Digital signage provides flexibility and enhancement. But for some, print menus have irreplaceable charm. Analyze your requirements and research both options. An informed decision will lead to an optimal menu for your guests.


The choice between digital and traditional restaurant menus is not one-size-fits-all. The right option depends on your individual concept and needs. While printed menus still have their place, many modern restaurants can benefit from the flexibility, visual appeal, and innovation of digital menu boards. The technology allows restaurants to display enticing imagery, provide more information, and update offerings instantly. 

Yet the familiarity and simplicity of static menus continues to resonate with some customers and complement certain aesthetics. Carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages before deciding which format works best for providing an exceptional dining experience. With smart implementation, your menu can enhance service, provide convenience, and leave a lasting impression.

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