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Eating iPads February 5, 2012

Posted by bobv451 in business, education, food, gummint, ideas, inventions, iPad, iPhone, VIPub, web & computers, writing.

The restaurant business operates on razor-thin profits. I ran a big restaurant for a while and we sported the best profit in the chain at a bit over 1%. That took constant vigilance and attention to who was hired, especially at waiter and waitress (this was back in the day when they were called that and not some PC variant like server, which can apply to a computer as easily.)

The paper today told of a NC restaurant equipping its servers with iPads. If the customer can’t decide, a picture of the food comes up (something that I have always felt is counter productive. There’s a reason food ads on TV use Elmer’s glue for milk, varnish on meat and other ugly things to mimic food–real food looks terrible photographed). I suppose this is a way to get past a language barrier, but the idea was to broaden the menu and give the potential feaster a hint as to which wine went best with that hot dog. (Hint:1787 Lafite claret is always a good choice.) The server touch screens the boxes, then submits the order via the iPad. No messy written checks.

It wasn’t stated but there might be another benefit other than using the iPad as a POS device. Put the order into a computer and have that decide how to optimally prepare the meal. Might be possible to fix 2 or 3 other customers’ same order together, cutting down on waste food and improving response/cooking/order time. Churn that computer a bit more and you can inventory the same way that bars inventory using a liquor gun. Every shot is monitored and matched with income. Every shallot can be similarly tracked. And it would be even easier if you could put in an edible RFID.

Why not couple the iPad to a webcam in the kitchen so you can watch the cook spitting in your food?

But my stfnal mind jumped a bit beyond simple profits on this. Paper checks are discarded. Once the meal is paid for now, all the tracking you get is the purchase price. (My son took me to a place in LA where they use Scantron sheets to order on–but below is an article on a restaurant near where he lives in Torrance using iPads) Using an iPad can record what every diner ate, or at least ordered. This can be pumped into a gummint database, let’s call it Michelle’s List, and the FDA can order out the TSA to arrest you if you are not eating properly. Or maybe the FDA will have its own SWAT team like the Dept of Education.

Fertile ground for stories. Of course, since this interests me, I’ve already done one novel with background like this. You can read it for free here, if you like.

Or maybe you can use a restaurant app like Fandango. Set up a reservation, order food and expect it to be ready when you arrive. The restaurant can monitor your approach using GPS to make sure you’re not one of those who orders a mushroom/onion/pineapple pizza and sends it to another house as a prank. With so many fast-casual (this term is being applied to places like Chipotle and, maybe a favorite of mine, Souper Salad) restaurants putting in wifi to keep the patrons there a bit longer, all kinds of other innovations might crop up.



1. Mary Wolff - February 5, 2012

Your Brave New Ipad Restaurant frightens me, mostly because waiters likely would end up spending most of their time in the loo, perched over a big water hazard with an ipad, surfing, or laborously cleaning ketchup stains off the screens.

It’s just a small matter of time before ipads are used by police to keep tight tabs on all of us.

2. Patrick J Smith Jr - February 5, 2012

I was thinking about that the other day… Why not have some sort of Touch Screen Menu at each Table… Mainly Tired of getting the Wrong Order a Jillion Times etc… Mainly this one Local Restaurant… Used to be Called ODENS… Changed Over in the early 1990’s… Since it changed it has been in Business for over 20 Years… Mainly just Dishing out Regular American Food… In which they never put a Dime into the Restaurant itself over the Years mainly just Paying the Rent & Making Money… Recently past 10 Years the Food has gone Down Hill… It’s like your sitting in some Junkyard all of the Tables & Chairs don’t Match They Ripped up a bunch of Booths as the Carpets is all Ripped up in Spots… Bathrooms never Smell like they have been Properly Cleaned… I mean if someone’s Movements smell like this Public Restroom Smell that way… You better get to a Hospital & Get Cleaned Out… I’m surprised they’re not using Used Toilets for Chairs at some of the Tables… The Service Sucks most of the Time… Who could blame any of them working in this Damn HOLE the way it has become… Smoking isn’t allowed any longer as of the 1st of the Year 2012… They Lost a lot of their Regulars… The Prices are way out there compared to going some place else which is Nice along with the Food Tastes Better that you are having to Pay the same Price for… I’m Rambling Off the Subject

3. Patrick J Smith Jr - February 5, 2012

I mean fine they want to say Route for the Independent Little Man… Some Mom & Pop Place… Only how do you Expect to Stay in Business if they are not going to Spend some Dough on the Restaurant to make it Nice and or Adequate to a certain degree for people to want to come Back & Eat There… It’s like this Place has some type of Mismanagement going on… It’s like they have two eggs Two Bacon or Sausage Patties and or Links Hash Browns & Toast for under 4 Bucks… Only on the Sides Menu they have One Egg for 2 Bucks… 4 Pieces of Bacon and or Sausage Patties and or Links for Under 4 Bucks… Toast is 2 Bucks… In which they have their Prices all Cockeyed that way… How does some Mom & Pop place figure on Competing with these different Franchises who have their prices based on How much of This & That they Use in a Week… How Much of This & That can Keep in the Refrigerator and or Freeze for certain Periods… In Order for them to Reduce and or Fix their Menu Prices Accordingly… Along with make a Profit to Pay their Workers along with Rent & Utilities as well as make something for themselves on the Side

4. Stephen Smoogen - February 5, 2012

Interesting enough, the FDA swat team is sort of followed up in the Chew Comics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chew_(comics). I was thinking of an “Identity Crisis” issue where someone orders something different and becomes a non-citizen because it doesn’t fit his normal patterns of eating.

bobv451 - February 6, 2012

Gordon Dickson did something similar in, I think, “Computers Don’t Argue.” The guy returned a book to the book club and ends up on death row through a series of mis-communication. Letting the gummint do this to us is positively evil. And it likely isn’t as far off as any of us think.

Stephen Smoogen - February 6, 2012

People always point to the government as being the probable bad guy in this situation.. me I know the Credit companies know more about us than the government does and have more control over our daily lives. At some point in the last 50 years we kept pointing our guns at the government and “elected” big business as its replacement without realizing it (or realizing but thinking that we could trust them more.)

Ok anti-oligarchy rant aside… I could see a restaurant where you have to have an ipad/smart-phone to order (as you auto log in to the wireless it redirects you to the menu and offers what items they want.) It could check your credit, your past orders at other restaurants and offer items that you are known to prefer from “Friendface”. It would be tied into the ordering system so that prices and such are covered by what is in stock and what is hot. Of course if you don’t ahve those items they march out a snooty waiter with “paper” who asks what you want but charges you an extra 30% gratuity for the service.

bobv451 - February 7, 2012

In a way, restaurants already tell you what you want–if it’s not on their menu, you’re not likely to get it. That’s why there are seafood restaurants and Mexican restaurants and…

The gummint has the power to coerce you to do what it wants. Corporations (unless they are minions of the gummint) do not. You don’t have to go to any given restaurant. You do have to do what the gummint demands or get thrown into jail, fined or put into rendition.

The notion the restaurant will know what you ordered before and offer more of the same, or something similar, isn’t that different from Amazon now suggesting other books similar to what you’ve already ordered. That was one part of “Minority Report” that rang true–the holograms following Tom Cruise around pushing products on him determined by his past purchases.

Saw a nice quote. Not exact but this is close (in describing what google & FB and others do): If you’re not the customer, then you’re the product. Collect enough info on you, they can sell it to the highest bidder–or all bidders.

Stephen Smoogen - February 7, 2012

Well I was going to say that the corporation bought the government. Having spent time in a couple of company towns, you can go to any restaurant you like as long as the company approved of the restaurant. Don’t like the options, well you could try to move out if you don’t owe too much to the corporation already.

A large enough corporation doesn’t have to have someone thrown in jail. They just have to revoke a person’s credit rating or put the person in default somewhere and then have a bounty put on the person because they didn’t show up in NoPlace Arizona for the hearing. While I am not a fan of big government, I have come to the conclusion that any company/corporation that gets too large becomes a government of some sort. The question is that “government” better or worse than the one that it replaced.

And yeah, if you haven’t paid someone for something, you aren’t a customer.. you are a product.

5. Eating iPads « Bob Vardeman's Blog | Get More Restaurant Reservations - February 5, 2012

[…] Eating iPads « Bob Vardeman's Blog ← To App or Not to App? Mobile Apps for Restaurants « Jim Balis' Blog Top 10 Life-Changing Apps | etengteam.com → […]

6. Stephen Smoogen - February 7, 2012

Anyway, I think I have said all I can say on this without repeating myself. The more I talk the longer I have to wait for Black Nebula.

bobv451 - February 8, 2012

Black Nebula is on deck for work right after I get the Accursed trilogy into ebook format (I only need them copyedited–everything else, except the covers, is ready to go, so BN isn’t far away!)

7. Cap'n Bob - February 17, 2012

The CHECK ENGINE light will come on if your gas cap is only tightly. That’s the first thing I’d check.

bobv451 - February 19, 2012

I had this happen when I filled up in Cloudcroft and came out of the mts to a mere 4300 ft altitude around Alamogordo. About a 4000 ft pressure difference between inside and outside the tank. The light went out when I opened the cap. Whatever caused the check engine light to go on before, it wouldn’t go off till the mech guys turned it off. As they told me, 1400 things all feeding into one idiot light.

8. Cap'n Bob - February 17, 2012

Not “only tightly,” “on tightly.” Sheesh!

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