Hot Trends In Restaurant Technology

The food service industry is seeing a huge influx in technologies designed to complement only the guest experience. With everything from wait cams to pneumatic food delivery tubes, here are some of the most interesting tech developments to arrive in restaurants across the world.

Wait cams
Many restaurants are embracing the idea of the “wait cam” – a live cam focused on the wait lines at popular restaurants. The idea is to enable guests to plan accordingly as they decide when to visit their favorite eatery. Guests can check the live feed online or via mobile app to get an idea of how long it will be until they are seated.

Approaches to the wait cam vary between restaurants. For example, Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco’s Mission District focuses its cam on a chalkboard with a list of waiting parties. However, at Shake Shack’s original location in New York City’s Madison Square Park, the wait cam offers a live feed of the line itself, as well as providing useful information about the weather forecast (all dining areas are outside) and menu items. Pok Pok in Brooklyn has taken a hybrid approach and offers a live feed of both the line and a chalkboard with the estimated wait.

Mobile Reservations
OpenTable isn’t the only player in the digital table reservation game anymore. Apple filed a patent application last month to develop its own brand of reservation technology. Users will not only be able to make reservations from their iPhones, they will also be able to order their food and estimate wait times directly from their mobile device.

In response to Apple’s move, OpenTable acquired Quickcue in an effort to expand its current services. Quickcue offers front of house staff to monitor table times and individual guest preferences. These emerging technologies suggest that we will be seeing more and more mobile devices in the dining room in the future.

Guest profiles
DC-based startup Venga recently raised $1 million in funding for its restaurant software that creates guest profiles based on information from point-of-sale systems. This allows restaurants to track the likes and dislikes of customers in order to tailor their service to each individual.

Pneumatic delivery tubes
In one of the most exciting examples of low-tech to enter the restaurant space, a New Zealand restaurant is in the process of installing pneumatic tubes to deliver their sliders tableside. The tubes use air pressure to send stainless steel tubes packed with three sliders and fries through tubes winding around the dining room from the kitchen to each table.

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