Restaurant Industry (finally) Embracing New Technology

chefs cooking in restaurantRestaurants have been around for centuries, dating as far back as Ancient Rome. Over the years, the food, the atmosphere and the service have improved by leaps and bounds. I mean, we have air conditioning and electricity folks! The problem is, even though we have seen massive changes since the Roman times, until very recently, the restaurant industry technological advances seem to have stalled out in the 1990’s. When it comes to placing food orders, many chefs, kitchen managers and owners are still placing their orders by fax or phone call. Reservations at many restaurants are still made over the phone, orders taken on a pad of paper.

Times, they are a-changing, my friends. Many companies are focusing on creating websites and apps to make the life of a server, chef, hostess, manager and owner of a restaurant easier. Here are some examples I’ve seen around town (no endorsements here, just observations):

  • OpenTable – An app and a website where customers can go to make reservations at their favorite restaurant. Customers are able to quickly see if and when there are openings and make the reservations with a click of a button.
  • Chili’s is using tablet technology at every table in their restaurants. They have tablets at each table with rotating product features and games for the kids. Once the meal is complete, customers are able to pay and tip at the table without waiting for the server to leave with their credit card and bring it back when the transaction is complete.
  • Improvonia – An app and a website that allows kitchen managers/chefs to keep inventory, place orders and maintain order history. No more faxing in orders or wondering how many cases of potatoes you used last year on football kickoff weekend, all the info is stored in one place, accessible on your phone or desktop computer. *Full disclosure: ShortOrder.com has partnered with Improvonia to make repeat purchases of smallwares easier for our customers as well.
  • What the Health – Allows diners to search for restaurant health inspection information by state. It’s location-based and with the tap of the screen brings up legit government-supplied information on 100 restaurants around the area.
  • Allset – Still in the beta testing phase, this app is combination reservation and food ordering in one. It allows customers to make a reservation and pre-place food and drink orders with the reservation. The goal is to allow full-service restaurants to better compete with quick-service restaurants during the time sensitive lunch rush.
  • Online Equipment Shopping – Shopping for expensive restaurant equipment online might seem like a stretch for some customers, but the money that can be saved is quite enticing for others. Companies like ShortOrder.com are becoming more popular with the average restauranteur looking to save a few dollars when they’re buying a new piece of equipment or replacing an old one.

This is just a short list. There are a ton of apps now and even more in development targeting restaurants and making lives easier for both front- and back-of-house employees. And it’s a good thing too because it doesn’t look like the restaurant industry is going anywhere!

Tags: apps, online equipment shopping, restaurant industry, technology

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