EricAccording to some, the iPad might eventually be solely responsible for the downfall of America. Whether contributing to the trade deficit with every sale or, as so poignantly pointed out by Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr, or destroying the publishing industry and costing Americans their jobs, the device is seemingly knocked down twice for every accolade it receives.
If one company has its way, however, a tablet computer may very well replace your favorite waiter. Enter E la carte. Envisioned as the link between your table and the kitchen, as well as the host’s stand, the device will let you handle almost every aspect of your meal without speaking to a member of the restaurant’s staff.
Here’s how it works: You sit at your table and, instead of opening menus, your options are displayed on a touchscreen. You simply make your selections, tap on your order, and wait. Eventually a human (at least until someone designs a food-delivery robot) arrives with your meal. After you’re finished you pay via the tablet, get up, and leave.
The system could be also be used to keep track of your prior orders and personalize the experience specifically to you. Frequent users of restaurant rewards programs could check their status and available points from the table. And, the potential to let the kids play a game or two while the adults enjoyed a quiet meal is too wonderful a prospect to overlook.
Restaurant owners will find it impossible to not take a look at this system, presumably while their wait staff watches from afar, hoping beyond hope that it crashes during the demonstration. According to E la carte, restaurants could see a 10% increase in the value of every order after the system is implemented. A staff of five could easily be reduced to two or even one during non-peak operating hours.
Those working in fine dining establishments have little to fear as it is doubtful that their patrons value efficiency over the overall dining experience. But, those in small family owned restaurants, as well as the major chains and neighborhood standards, might want to take notice. Their days of saying, “Hi. I’ll be taking care of you this evening,” may very well be coming to an end.