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I can't figure out what the "new numbers" means in the picture. If this picture doesn't provide enough context to specify the meaning, please tell me possible answers.

new meals // new numbers // check before ordering your favorite meal

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    Two double cheeseburgers used to be the Number 2 for like 40 years. (shakes angry old man fist)
    – Mazura
    Feb 28 at 19:01

2 Answers 2

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It is quite common in restaurants that every item on the menu has a number assigned to it that you can use to order. This can be done for multiple reasons:

  • The names of the meals may be hard to pronounce for the patrons (e.g. in my country, this is common in Asian restaurants),
  • The restaurant caters to tourists or is otherwise frequented by foreigners who may not speak the local language very well, or
  • The restaurant is operated by foreigners who may not speak the local language very well.

In all of these cases, the use of numbers instead of names of the meals makes it easier for patrons and servers to understand each other. Most people can speak and understand basic numbers in many languages but would not be able to correctly pronounce and/or understand the names of the meals.

If you go to such a restaurant often and you have a favorite meal that you always order, you might have memorized the number and might not look into the menu before ordering.

What this sign is saying is that the menu has changed and you should therefore check whether your favorite meal still has the same number as before.

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    The numbers are also used for performance reasons. Most fast food restaurants have their registers set up so that the numbered menu options can be entered in only one keypress (or at least, far fewer than for the same thing being entered otherwise), compared to needing potentially dozens for the same thing entered entirely by hand. They then make a point to have the numbered options be consistent with what gets ordered most frequently so that the average entry speed for an order on the register is as fast as possible. Feb 27 at 16:36
  • Also, communicating number between patron/servers can be done by typing into a calculator/phone, as sometimes done when haggling in open markets.
    – Jonathan
    Feb 28 at 8:28
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    Personally, I like to (redundantly) say both the number and the name of the meal, to maximize the chances of getting what I want (because numbers can be misunderstood as well, especially when ordering over the phone). Kind of like a built-in "checksum mechanism".
    – Heinzi
    Feb 28 at 9:05
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    It's also quite likely that they put this sign up only after numerous complaints from people ordering their favorite dish by number and getting something else. It does have a haphazard kind of "made in a hurry" sort of look to it, just being zip-tied to a post, rather than the more professionally mounted signage that fits into the décor. Feb 28 at 14:30
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    In the UK, ordering by number is stereotypically associated with Chinese takeaways, though numbers are printed on a wider range of menus. I've seen a mismatch between printed menus and the ones on the wall before, so it's always worth checking
    – Chris H
    Mar 1 at 16:19
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Many fast-food outlets and restaurants give numbers as well as names to dishes and meals to make ordering easier. For example, using the menu below, if I wanted Beef with Green Pepper in Black Bean Sauce on Hot Stone Plate I could save everybody's time by just saying "A number 32 please". If it was a favourite dish of mine, I might memorise the number. Such a scheme is helpful if there is a potential language barrier, also if rapid service in important.

It seems that the restaurant which placed the sign had revised its menu, and, as well as adding new dishes, had changed the numbering scheme so that customers needed to check if their favourite dishes had new numbers.

enter image description here

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