Restaurant owners and operators are catching on fast. They’re realising that tech-savvy brands are reaping the rewards of new web and mobile-enabled services that get tables turned faster and keep customers coming back for more.
We’ve pulled together 6 top techs that’ll ensure you’ll never go back to those pre-mobile, dark days of dining.
1) Find nearest
Ever found yourself in the middle of an unfamiliar city, completely famished, searching for the familiarity of a place you know well and that is guaranteed to have something you like to eat? Thanks to location-based tech on mobile phones nowadays, you can put an end to aimlessly wandering the streets in search of your favourite restaurant.
Many restaurants have launched mobile applications that, as well as order and payment, allow diners to locate their nearest store. Even restaurants that don’t have their own dedicated app can get in on this tech. Independent apps like Restaurant Finder let customers find restaurants around them as well as check out their opening times, reviews, phone number and menus.
2) Wine expert at your fingertips
“I’m getting hints of summer with a subtle note of…um, no idea!” Sommeliers train for years to acquire their encyclopaedic knowledge of wine. If you don’t have the time to swat up on your Pinot Noirs from your Merlot, never fear – the Wine Glass App is here.
This app lets you take a picture of a wine list and provides an interactive version on your phone. The app shows you the ratings, reviews, price, information and type of food the wine goes best with helping you get the best glass for your taste and budget.
People seem to have less and less time to do, well, anything nowadays. So technology that saves guests’ time must only be a good thing. Pre-order does just that. If you’re strapped for time but need to grab something to eat, there are restaurants that let you pre-order your meal via mobile, send you an alert when it’s ready so you all you have to do is swing by and pick it up on the way to wherever you’re rushing off to.
Panera, for example, lets diners pre-order their food for Rapid Pick-Up, Drive-Thru or delivery all using their smartphone. Guests can customise their order, view the menu and even manage their rewards through the loyalty part of the app.
4) Let me entertain you
Taking kids to restaurants is always a bit of a blood-pressure-raising situation, especially if they’re young with short attention spans. Restaurants have turned to tech to take the pressure of frazzled parents, letting them enjoy, at least 5 minutes of peace to eat their meals.
US-based sub shop, Blimpie, launched Blimpie Run – a pretty addictive mobile app game that lets kids ‘run’ across America as Del E. Fresh collecting produce to create delicious subs. Every month, Blmipie selects a user at random from high achieving gamers and rewards them with free subs for a year!
5) Flexible payment
As well as ordering food from your mobile app, what would make the whole dining-out experience even better, would be the ability to pay via mobile too. Luckily The Waiter in Your Pocket app does that and more.
This app doesn’t just let you order and pay for your food, it gives you full control. Whether you’re ordering and paying in advance, at your table, splitting the bill, adding to it or customising it – it’s all possible with just a few taps.
6) The fully automated restaurant
High-tech restaurant, Eatsa in San Francisco is doing away with human staff entirely by getting their customers to send their orders to the kitchen through iPads. When their meals are ready, it appears in a glass locker for them to pick-up and enjoy.
Walking into a restaurant with no waiters, cashiers or a maître ‘d might sound a tad inhospitable, but Eatsa has so far proved a success. “We are producing food at an incredible rate,” co-founder Tim Young said. “And we’re creating a new kind of fast food experience. What we’ve designed creates a sense of mystery, creates a sense of intrigue.”