Restaurants trying e-menus. Not really a new idea…

 This ZDNet article dicusses the newest emerging trend in restaurants… the e-menu.  You order from a computer at the table.  But is this really new?  The Training Table, a restaurant chain I have only seen when I lived in Utah, does phone-in orders (from the table).  I know that they aren’t the only restaurant to have done that one, either.  It’s an old trick (saving on labor costs and high turnover rates by investing in technology).

Here’s the problem.  This kind of ordering takes a restaurant with all the class of Denny’s and turns it into Arby’s.  At the Training Table, you don’t have a server.   This means you pick up your food from a window (admittedly, it’s very good food) and I believe you also drop your dishes off when you are done (it’s been a while).  Would the e-savvy restaurants be different?  Possibly, I suppose.  But for some, the experience of dining out is what we are looking for – and a techologically advanced fast-food restaurant is not as much of a draw as old-fashioned good service and friendly staff.

 I might go just to see the technology, but that’s because I’m a technonerd. =)  Of course, it will be 50 years before this trend hits Dillon, MT, so I’ll have plenty of time to think about it beforehand.

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3 Comments on “Restaurants trying e-menus. Not really a new idea…”

  1. Diane Says:

    Hey I remember the days when Dillon actually had an A&W (right about where the pavement leading from Montana street to Safeway is now, I think…) and you phoned your order in from the table. I thought it was the coolest thing ever! Of course I was only about seven at the time.

    Technically a lot of restaurants employ touchscreen and keyed systems for the wait staff to transmit orders to the cooks. At McKenzie River Pizza, you’ll see touch-screens, and I think at places like Applebees (that could be wrong; I don’t remember where I saw it) they would input the orders from the corner of the restaurant and it could save them a trip into the kitchen. So yes, the technology is already there; just on a smaller scale.

    I personally don’t think it would become wide-spread though. There are just some aspects of our lives where a living being is the only way to go. Food is a very personal and proprietary facet. The idea of cold hard electronics recommending the chef’s special just doesn’t appeal to me.

    Unless of course I am ordering a pizza to go so that I can get home and play WoW; I can live without human interaction in that situation. 😉

  2. bfpower Says:

    I moved here after the A&W was gone, so my only drive-in option left is the DQ (which finally opened for the spring…).

    Yeah, I remember using a touch-screen system during my youthful days… I think they called it Micros. No pictures on that, though. =) And I do agree that it won’t become widespread very quickly, if at all. And I certainly don’t think that Sweetwater Coffee is moving that direction anytime soon (though I do wish they would take debit cards – or maybe I don’t, so I don’t spend money there).

  3. bfpower Says:

    Speaking of things I’m glad I didn’t get into, I haven’t done WoW. Between school and work and family (new baby) and the other games I like to play, I don’t think I could fit Blizzard. LOL Though I’m definitely curious, especially since I got my new gamer PC set up.

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