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Restaurants Embracing Technology

by Dave on September 20, 2011

Tablet MenuRestaurant technology has been slowly evolving for years. Few fast food restaurants would survive without drive-thru lanes, wireless headsets and computer screens that list live orders. Then came Web 2.0 where people (customers) could share opinions about their local eateries. These days much of the restaurant technology is about mobile devices.

Let’s start with the servers. The traditional server writes your order on paper then moves to a computerized cash register known as a POS (point of sale) device to enter the order into the system. One hi-tech version of this system simply gives the server a device that has a wireless connection to system. When your order is entered on the portable device, it’s instantly in the system, saving time. A case study of that is here ( Adventurous eateries are going one step further by putting the device, in this case an iPad, in the hands of the customer themselves (

Not all restaurants are completely comfortable with technology. This article ( sheds light on the how technology can be a double-edged sword. One upscale eatery bans technology while another not-quite-as-classy establishment encourages technology and considers the social sharing of their patrons to be beneficial marketing.

Then there’s the story of Chipotle Mexican Grill. They moved to online ordering several years ago, but not without encountering a few problems ( Chipotle’s system also allows ‘group orders’ from 20 or 30 people. Here’s an explanation from the article:

In brief, group ordering allows multiple customers, such as an office staff, to place their entire order as one transaction over the Internet, rather than piecemeal over the phone or at the counter. A group transaction begins with one person who places his order and then “invites” others via email to “join the group” and place their orders.”

The feature allows for exceptional detail, such as giving all group members the chance to add individual and customized requests, such as “sauce on the side” and “extra guacamole.” They also prepay for their food through an account established at the restaurant’s website, eliminating the need to hustle up correct change at the office.”

In the end, technology provided such a boost in business that Chipotle decided to retrofit their busiest locations to provide the extra kitchen resources needed to handle large group orders. That’s a nice problem for a business to have.

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