Now iPads Are Replacing Waiters And Sommeliers At Restaurants Around The Country


Photo: Deutsche Bank AG via Flickr

More and more restaurants are using iPads for menus and wine lists, making the selection and dining experience considerably more interactive.When 4food opened in September, it not only had the ambitious mission to dejunk New York, but it also launched the most innovative digital dining experience to date, for any restaurant, let alone a fast food joint.

You can place an iPad order in-store, build and order your burger online to have it waiting for you, and share it with friends via social networking to vie for top menu position and 4food burger bucks.

Global Mundo Tapas, in the North Sydney Rydges Hotel, was the first in Australia to go digital with iPad menus that present photos and tasting notes of the dishes and suggested wine pairings. Orders are sent directly to the kitchen. One of the many benefits is that items are instantly removed from the iPad when they become sold out so you don’t have to go through the painful and anti-climatic process of reviewing the menu again and settling for second choice.

Bone’s Restaurant in Atlanta has turned their iPad wine menu into an encyclopedia of the restaurant’s 1,300 labels with descriptions, ratings and search options by name, region, price and varietal. The restaurant benefits from inventory control, cost efficiencies and increased sales; Bone’s saw a 10 per cent jump in wine sales after the first month of introducing the iPads. It’s also an enhanced customer experience. Vague, one line descriptions are replaced with robust reviews and detailed information which educate and embolden customers to be more experimental and spend more.

Chicago Cut takes it a step further. The steakhouse includes photos of each bottle and you can also pull up a Google map of the vineyard. “Eventually the bottle is going to spin around and you can read the back label,” managing partner Matt Moore told AP. In the future, programmers could add video or let customers e-mail themselves the name of a new favourite wine.

Au Bon Pain is starting to roll out iPads for taking orders, replacing the traditional pen and paper method. There’s even an electronic copy of the menu, alongside the old fashioned laminated offerings.

And one of the most convenient new uses of the iPad is at JFK. Over 200 iPads loaded with menus are available at the gates so you can order while you wait for a flight and a waiter will bring you your food, which you can then pay for on the iPad or in cash.

Hopefully developers and restauranteurs will continue to innovate and not only make our dining more convenient, but also more relevant through customised promotional offers and social networking tie-ins. The future is here and the possibilities are endless.

Sources: New York Times; Redmond Pie


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