iPad in the restaurant

Discussion in 'iPad' started by taipan61, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. taipan61 macrumors 6502

    May 18, 2011
    corner starbucks
    I own a small bistro in Northern California and am currently trying out using iPads for my servers to take orders and to show photos of finished dishes if diners have any questions, so far it's working out fairly well...(setting up the kitchen printers was a small feat on it's own)
    My questions is to you all, how would you feel about using an iPad as a menu and actually placing your order on it?
    Yes I can see the nightmare ramifications of free wheeling diners playing and handling the device with food covered hands...:eek:
    But trying to flesh out an idea to make the ordering process more interactive and interesting than just the old paper menu with stock photos.
    Thanks for any input.
  2. thesiren macrumors 6502a


    Mar 7, 2011
    outer space
    I think the most important question here is... what kind of food do you serve?
  3. CountBrass macrumors regular

    Mar 17, 2009
    From my point of view I think it depends on what you're aiming for in your restaurant. If you're looking for cost reduction (fewer staff needed to take orders) and a move down market to pub-style or even Macdonalds style fast turn over then yes sure why not use iPads: if you can trust your customers not to damage or steal them.

    Personally if I'm going out for a meal a part of the experience (and one which can easily ruin things) is the wait staff- the interaction/banter, explaining and recommending dishes -can the prawns be left out of the sauce?- -I'd like the lamb but with thick-cut fries and not mash- etc. So personally I wouldn't like a move to using iPads to order (the wait staff using them I could care less about).
  4. ptaylor9 macrumors member

    Sep 16, 2009
    Personally I can see more problems with using them to order than they would probably solve. People hit the wrong button, want to make ammendments after the order's been taken etc.
    It would be really cool to have them as menus to see pictures and options, health figures (calories, fat etc etc), but I would still want to rely on the waiting staff to get the order right.
    I mean, for a big party of people would you have one that you pass around, or everyone having their own ordering at slightly different times and causing confusion in the kitchen?
    Cheers :)
  5. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Your food better be good, because a gimmick like that is only going to get people in once.
  6. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    For me, an iPad does not scream quality/good taste etc?

    Sure, it's all high tech, and funky and will impress the kids at the fast food places. but in a nice quiet adult restaurant, I would like to find beautifully printed menu's on quality card/paper.

    Any tech would just feel cheap and tacky in a quality establishment.

    Sure, if the waitresses had them to take the orders and give the customers more info if requested then that would be ok I guess.
  7. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    North California Bistro. I take it we're not talking Bouchon?
    I know it sounds old fashioned, but bistros are not hi-tech places. A scribbled black board or Madame or Yvette taking your order by memory…

    iPads? They just don't fit.

    On the other hand your idea of a bistro is perhaps not what many in Europe would recognise as one.


    I would agree.
  8. taipan61 thread starter macrumors 6502

    May 18, 2011
    corner starbucks
    of course! fresh meat and vegetables only no cans!
    French Provincial and Country Italian.

    Wasn't looking at the gimmicky side of it, menus cost $$$ to print, produce and change which I do seasonally. The point would also be not to cut staff but to provide the diner with more individual information on each dish, ingredients (lots of food allergies that everyone should be conscious of) calories, sodium, sugars, etc without tying up staff so that they could be able to handle their sections more efficiently.
    But i can see the point of making amendments to the order (difficult at best) and your correct in what makes the difference between a good experience vs a great one is the interaction between the diner and the staff...:cool:
    I appreciate all the input... many thanks!

    ps looking back at it, it is the only tech that the customers can see at this point and it's only in the hands of the servers currently.
    I guess I'm letting my sales rep over sell me at this point
  9. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    If the iPad is going to replace wait staff then I say no way. If the iPad is only intended to give a comprehensive menu that you can change on the fly at no cost to you, then that may not be a bad idea to at least test it. Buying a couple of iPads, I would even buy the first iPad to save cash, and trying it is worth the shot. However, understand that a 10 page menu, whether it is in print or on an iPad is never a great idea. You want choices but too many choices is often overwhelming to a customer.

    Also consider those who are of an older generation. Not that anyone past 40 is like this, but many people still prefer paper. I'm roughly in the same business as my mom. Where I work in a near paperless environment (short of what I have to send out every day), she prints things constantly for her review. I prefer to review on screen, she prefers to get the old highlighter out and start her marking. Some people may be overwhelmed by the technology so having a few menus in print on hand is never a bad idea. Even if they're not as fancy.

    Finally, consider the ADA. Some people may not be able to read the menu, offering choices to change the font size and color is going to be important. While I realize this is not the case in print menus, if you're going to use technology then really use it. This could be a great step into allowing people with vision problems to read a menu in a dimly lit place without struggle.

    I think you can really take something like this from gimmick to beneficial business idea in no time but always consider that as long as paper is available, people may want to use it. Don't get rid of the wait staff ever either, not unless that is how it works in all restaurants. People still like to ask questions and be heard. Don't take that away from them right away or you'll find yourself with an empty building.
  10. Hammie macrumors 65816


    Mar 17, 2009
    Wash, DC Metro
    A good server doesn't need to write anything down...

    Just saying.

    However, I'm not sure how much better this will be for either the servers or customers. Personally, I would not want my server to show me the finished dish on any device. Either have menus made with small pictures next to them, or have samples of them as customers walk into the restaurant.

    I do, however, think it would be cool to have a touch device to order the food. The difficulty would be when there would be specific substitutions or a removal of a certain ingredient that may not normally be requested.

    Although not completely the same, the Chipotle app lacks in the customization area. Unless you add a comment in the Special Instructions section (which do not always seem to be followed), you do not always get the extra cheese, or light salsa, or whatever custom ask you want.

    Good luck with the technology integration to your bistro!!
  11. kuwisdelu macrumors 65816

    Jan 13, 2008

    Personally, I think it's a great idea for menus, as long as you make extra-sure your menu is easy to navigate and read. Especially if it can go into more detail than a traditional menu with pictures for each dish, cooking options, and nutritional info, etc. However, I'd prefer a real waiter/waitress for the order-taking. The technology should supplement the human element, not replace it.
  12. miamialley, Jul 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011

    miamialley macrumors 68030


    Jul 28, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    What about having customers using their own devices to order? Via an app store app while connected to your wifi? You could test it out this way before going balls out and buying a bunch of iPads. They could order for each guest in their party...seat 1, 2, etc.

    Would this cut down on the number servers needed? And how would this affect the tipping scale?
  13. nin7474 macrumors 6502

    Mar 29, 2009
    There's a restaurant in Boston already doing that. Ipads for menus:eek:
  14. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    Sounds fine to me. But, I'd only be impressed if I could order on it. Say I want another round of drinks. I'd like to just punch it in and order without having to call over a server. Many of the restaurants in Japan have this feature with dedicated tablets (tablets made for this function) docked at the tables.

    Enjoyed a sushi meal last night without having to deal with servers until the final check (automated trays whisked our orders out to us on belts and plates get tossed down a dedicated chute). Very nice.
  15. Surely Guest


    Oct 27, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'd be worried about people walking out with your iPads. I think it would be too difficult to keep an eye on all of the menus all the time.
  16. maclaptop macrumors 65816


    Apr 8, 2011
    Western Hemisphere
    There is a certain cache that a well done menu posesses.

    An iPad is cold, impersonal, pretentious, and out of place.

    Focus on all the things you are already doing right and you will more than pay for the annual expenses of paper menus.

    Your patrons will be so happy you did.
  17. pknz macrumors 68020


    Mar 22, 2005
  18. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    That actually sounds like a nightmare. :eek:
  19. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    lol. not at all for me. i enjoy living in my blade runner future/present life. but, i know some people enjoy human interactions (no matter how superficial) more than i do, so i can understand the warm feelings people have for the traditional system.

    personally, i go to restaurants and other places to enjoy them with my companions, and not chat up waitresses, try and flag down servers, or mess around with mistaken orders. tech can facilitate this and make it fun at the same time (for every five plates down the chute we got a chance to win a toy--unnecessary, but entertaining).

    if you want to go to the ultimate level, you have to somehow create a place that allows customers find their own seats (is it so hard to do it without a hostess?) and pay at the table (if i can order online i can handle this transaction without a register). i haven't found a place like this yet, but i bet they exist.
  20. arkitect macrumors 603


    Sep 5, 2005
    Bath, United Kingdom
    Well even Deckard had to talk to this guy to order his sushi. ;)
  21. macking104, Jul 7, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2011

    macking104 macrumors 6502


    Jan 14, 2003
    California, USA
    There's a burger place in Southern California that uses iPads at each table as menus and customer chooses toppings/ orders through the device.


    Gordon Ramsey (and customers) would be more interested in the food and service being awesome over hi-tech ordering... Even though chefs probably like the easier to read orders with table numbers, etc...
  22. Yumunum macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2011
    I honestly think that would be really cool - if you did it right.

    Your establishment would need to be themed in a nice modern way, to make the iPads actually fit in.

    The iPad's would need to be attached to something (so they weren't stolen) and there would need to be something stopping people from going to the homescreen (look at the new Apple Stores' design. That'll give you a good idea)

    You'd also have to have a good way for them to order on the iPad... And I honestly can't think of a good one. However you did it though, you'd need a way for customers to type in an attached message (for special orders, like when they want their chocolate milk stirred 10 times with a fancy spoon)

    I'm all for the future and I think old people need, and I mean NEED, to get used to the way the world's evolving or else they're going to have problems. This isn't changing their lifestyles, or forcing them to never use paper again, it's simply a touch-screen ordering system. No harm done.
  23. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

    Dec 15, 2010
    believe it or not alot wouldn't want to order from an ipad
  24. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    oh, i am way ahead of decker! admittedly, he had a gun and a flying car, but he couldn't order his food with all that advanced tech. i just did it :)

    i love the blade runner aesthetic, but let's face it, he was living in a world with artificial intelligence and robots that could pass as human, but had to painfully scan around on a crt monitor to zoom in on a picture. something was wrong.

    i'd love to order from an ipad :)
  25. jacktorrance macrumors regular

    Jul 21, 2009
    Try telling that to one who is taking an order for a table of 20 including vegetarians, vegans, 'the allergic', and kids.

    Just saying.

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