Posts Tagged ‘ipads’


Technology and Food Services

Written by Elizabeth Engelman
May 1st, 2012

Technological advances in the foodservice industry are becoming more commonplace than ever before. The iPad and other tablets have made portable, lightweight computers the trendy new tech gadget must-have. This has translated to foodservice usage in a significant way: menus. As an integral part of the dining experience, they can showcase a restaurant’s theme, wet a customer’s appetite and be conversation starters. Many foodservice establishments have started using tablets as menus for different reasons and benefits.


Menu Translations
Many restaurants in diverse cultural cities or tourist hot spots face the challenge of serving guests who speak and read an array of different languages. With tablet menus, multiple translations can be built-in. Presenting a menu in a guest’s native language avoids awkward moments and assures a sense of comfort and confidence that the right meal is ordered.

Say It with Pictures
They say “a picture is worth a thousand words.” And we’ve seen the persuading visual power of meals as they are carried through a dining room—an allure and captivation that words on a menu could never match. High quality pictures of your menu items can make a big difference. With tablet menus, diners can preview their meal and may even be enticed to try something new based on a photo. With the popularity of the farm-to-table trend, many establishments are using tablets to tell a more in-depth story of where their ingredients come from, complete with pictures of the original farms and the farmers.

Dinner and an App
While some restaurants only use the tablets for menus, others use them as built-in entertainment and allow customers to keep them at the table while waiting for their meals to arrive. Businesses can load popular games and special apps that fit with the theme of the restaurant, while still being careful to pick ones they deem appropriate for all guests.

The Benefits
The overall benefit to tablet menus is efficiency. With the customer pressing a button to select each item, an order can be synced directly to the POS system, preventing tableside ordering mistakes. This new concept frees up staff to service more tables. It also allows customers to make special requests and ask for substitutions or changes to a dish directly with the kitchen, by-passing any awkward appeals to a server. Another benefit is the up-to-the-minute updating of daily specials or items that have sold out.

While there are plenty of benefits, technology still comes with critical evaluations and decisions to consider before purchase. Tablets are expensive and a sizeable investment. A business should crunch the numbers to determine both short and long term return on that investment before buying. Planning is also essential. Efficiency may be impacted depending your plan- whether to have one tablet per table, one per guest, or one per server.

Another important point is that devices get dirty. They need to be cleaned after every use to keep them sanitary and functioning. The last consideration is possibly the most important: does a tablet menu fit with the theme, décor and atmosphere of the restaurant? If new technology has the potential to clash or seem out of place, keep the integrity of your establishment at the forefront of your decision.