2012 Technology And Restaurants

photo_915_20060125-450x300We’re nearing 2013. In movie time, we’re two years away from the iconic flying hoverboards of Back To The Future.

The movie did get a few things right about our near-future. Japan’s cultural influence is readily apparent in the media (just watch a cartoon made this decade). Holofilms (like Jaws 19) can be equated to the 3D resurgence in films, and “dust-repellent paper” sounds a bit like e-readers. Giant TV screens with 300+ channels that you can video conference with? Got it. Mocking games that actually require you to use your hands? Microsoft Kinect has that figured out.

And yet, Cafe 80s is firmly rooted in the past’s conjecture of the future. We may get a Pepsi Perfect in two years, but it’ll doubtfully sell for $50. Digital waiters in the style of Max Headroom are unlikely. It all seems outdated… like loud cash registers, leather-bound menus, and pen-and-paper toting waiters.

How can the modern restaurant surpass the antiquated future of Back To The Future, all while moving out of the antiquated tradition’s they are stuck with?

Updated Menus

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Restaurant: Impossible, you’ve heard the declarations that large menus are only hurting restaurants. They increase the chance for overstocking on food supplies, error in production, and minimize the chances for standout dishes to make a name for the restaurant. In comparison, many current restaurants are thriving on a small, daily printed menu. See what’s available, or make sure you have certain menus available for certain days, and make a fresh, new, single-page menu each day. If you’ve got a restaurant with a chalkboard or the like, you don’t even need to print a list; just write it up on the wall. If you have a sit-down restaurant, these single-page menus occasionally become a collectible item, a more personalized item, and constantly get people in the door to see what’s new on the menu. If you can afford it, some restaurants have even made their menus digital with the preponderance of iPads; a wine list on the iPad is an interactive and, admittedly exquisite, way to display wines.

New Payments

With Square and other credit card readers going into the iPhone, iPad, and Android worlds, the entire purchase system can be revived. Invariably, cash will have to be accepted, whether it be through tips or just people who avoid the world of credit cards. A shift to these digital ways of handling things will clear up space in the restaurant, make things easier on your invoices and such, and allow yourself to go mobile; instead of making a waiter get a card, walk away, and come back with a physical receipt, they can just bring the device to the table, swipe it there, and let the consumer sign off. They won’t worry about their credit card being copied or stolen, as everything’s in front of view.

Get Social

Twitter, Yelp, Facebook; these services did not exist when many modern restaurants opened up. They’re great ways to spread word about the restaurant, and for someone willing to put a little bit of side work into the process, they can have huge payouts. Try a Twitter-exclusive coupon, keep an eye on Yelp reviews, and let people become fans of you on Facebook. These get your name out there, and justify people signing up for advertisements of their own accord. Additionally, this is a great chance to hear feedback.

Take A Side On Cellphones

The turnabout of the advancement of technology is that everyone has a cellphone, and are invariably disruptive with them. Taking pictures of food for social networks is usually a good promotional device, but distract people from actually eating the food. Long phone calls can additionally disrupt the dining, and people on phone while ordering is just rude to the staff. Some restaurants have found success in banning cell phones, offering a discount if patrons leave their cell phone at the door, and so forth. Pick a side, whatever works for you, but know that it’ll have ramifications.