The next digital casualty: waiters?

Some restaurants are experimenting with at-table electronic service


The National Restaurant Association has released its 2012 industry forecast, which is jam-packed with tons of interesting facts for anyone interested in the business of food. While there’s a wealth of data on topics such as economic impact and employment, the tastiest morsels–in my books, anyway–have to do with technology.

You have to be an association member, or a journalist, to get the full report, but fortunately Business News Daily has some of the more pertinent info. The facts that caught my eye were:

Nearly 4 in 10 consumers say they’d be likely to use an electronic ordering system and menus on tablet computers at full-service restaurants. About half said they would use at-table electronic payment options and a restaurant’s smartphone app to view menus and make reservations. (My emphasis added)

That “at-table” part is important for anyone who has been to a restaurant and had their order screwed up and/or waited an interminable time to get their waiter’s attention either to get a drink refill or the bill. That is to say, it’s important to all of us.

Are we, as the report suggests, headed for a future without waiters? Some restauranteurs believe so and are experimenting with such ideas. Check out this restaurant in Germany, which uses a touch-screen ordering system and roller-coaster-like tracks to deliver food to customers:

As the video report pointed out, the restaurant still has human cooks. But such people, too, are an endangered species as robot cooks are on the march around the world.

I’ve long advocated replacing restaurant staff with robots and automation–one side bonus is eliminating nose gold on your pizza–so bring it on!


The next digital casualty: waiters?

  1. I think cooks/chefs have more to worry about than waiters do. I enjoy waiter service – can’t stand cafeterias, buffets, fast food … etc – but I could not care less who/what cooks my food as long as it tastes good. 

    • Is that John Galt’s sister? 

  2. I can see it in fine restaurants. This way, the diners would have a personal connection with the chef, who would grandly come out his creations and personally present them to salivating customers as he produces them.

  3. I live in a country now that just doesn’t get it when it comes to restaurants, food or service but at least they don’t expect a 15% tip for ignoring you.  There has been more than one occasion where I was tempted to introduce that technology called a pencil and a paper.  It helps you to remember the order.

  4. The worst part of the dining experience for me has always been the waiters.  I’d pay extra for a meal that eliminated the hassle of dealing with a waiter.

  5. Yeah, who needs labour anyways, right?

  6. Wow, hatin’ on waiters here. The types of places y’all are describing would be just fine without waiters, and I’ll stick to the kind of place with food worthy of being served by a good waiter. This is just a vote in favour of McFancy restaurants beyond the regular McD.

  7. I would not go to a retaurant that used technology to take and deliver my order.
    I enjoy ordering my meal from a waiter/waiteress.
    There is already too much human isolation caused by high tech toys.
    Whatever happened to talking, actually conversing with people? Something good
    and fine being lost there. Plastic boxes, no matter how nifty, can’t replace a human touch.

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