Technology is solidifying its place as a top trend in the restaurant industry as we are seeing more mobile reservation systems, loyalty programs, payment procedures and smartphone apps every day. One of the boldest technological trends entering the scene are iPad and tablet menus and ordering systems. For the growing market of “digital natives”- a generation that embraces technology like no other and those obsessed with speed, accuracy, customization, and control, iPad and tablet menus are interactive and visually appealing ways to display menus in the most efficient and modern manner to date, giving customers the highest degree of personalization possible. Never before has the phrase “people eat with their eyes” been more accurate, with surveys showing that people will order 15% more when they can see the dish they are getting. Digital menus satisfy today’s customers hunger for in-depth food descriptions, vivid images, intuitive food and drink pairings, and custom ordered fare, making them a viable option for today’s restaurant owners looking to keep up with the technologically saturated world and it’s savvy customers.
STACKED, a Southern California restaurant chain who is hailed by the National Restaurant Association as the pioneer of the first successful iPad ordering system has streamlined and enhanced the entire eating experience with the sole purpose of customization using this technology. Customers can pre-order their meal before they even sit down and immediately place their order, making communication between kitchen and table instantaneous. Another painful restaurant procedure- splitting the check, is made simple with their iPad menus by dragging items on to separate tabs on the screen. Interestingly STACKED CEO, Paul Monteko, doesn’t see himself as some sort of “technological visionary” in the restaurant world- rather that he simply set out to do what any successful restaurant owner and CEO strives to do: improve customer experience and deliver the highest quality of service possible. Technology was simply the key he found could unlock a level of customized service that has never been reached before. “You can literally come to STACKED and never try the same food combination twice. We are constantly adding new ingredients, new dishes- the possibilities are endless,” and customers are absolutely loving it. He offers advice to fellow restaurant owners on being too quick to jump on the tech train however, “Technology implemented for technology sake: to be flashy, trendy, whatever- is pointless. Technology implemented with the purpose of making an experience better, more efficient and for the benefit of the customer is what made STACKED successful.” He also notes the financial challenge that taking on a project like this entails- “technology is always, always evolving. Once you begin using technology in your restaurant, there is always something else to keep up with.” Unsure about whether or not the digital menu will become industry standard 5 years from now, Monteko still wouldn’t change a thing. “Going down this path has been quite a ride- a tremendous challenge to keep up with ever evolving technology, but incredibly fun. It is amazing to be able to do so many new things, try so many new food items. We are extremely happy with our decision to use technology this way and had we gone down a different path it would not have been nearly as much fun or worthwhile than it has been to create something that perfects the dining experience the way we have.” he says proudly.
Digital menus certainly have tangible benefits for the restaurant owner, staff, as well as the customer which are propelling them into popularity within the industry. But as Monteko predicts, genuine customer service will always have it’s place in the restaurant world and quality of food and service will never be overlooked or replaced by the newest technological trend. When technology can be integrated into the social experience of dining out correctly and in a complementary manner however, it makes for quite the winning recipe.
Make sure to be on the lookout for STACKED’s mobile app coming out soon!
And for you bar owners out there, have you thought about taking your handwritten beer chalkboard digital? TapHunter can help you out with that.