So, my friend Elaine, Olivia and I go to eat lunch at Happy Chef restaurant in Bellevue, WA. Elaine is allergic to nuts. She waits until the waiter gets to our table to ask what’s nut free while Olivia and I happily read through the menu and figure out what we want. Two opportunities lost – Elaine is not delighted as a customer because she does not experience the same thing we did. The restaurant lost 10 minutes of elapsed time because Elaine had to speak to the waiter and waiter had to ask the chef and get back. The faster a restaurant turns the tables i.e. feed more customers in the same 2hr. lunch time the more profit they make.
Everyone knows Restaurant Industry has poor profit margins. High capital investment, difficult demand prediction, and logistics nightmare with table utilizations.
What if we had smart tables – a simple $20 bluetooth enabled wafer that sits on all tables. This device has a digital display and syncs with any smartphone near the table. The same device can sync with 5 phones at the table. The menu is shown to the user on users smartphone. There could be software app that the user can download on their phones and set their preferences. For example, nut allergy. The app takes the raw menu data from the bluetooth connection, and filters results tailored for Elaine. This enables chef to create new dishes everyday, no printing of menus. Chef gets to explain the dish, show images and videos. Share nutritional information. Also, Elaine can just Instagram a pic even before the food arrives. We have got to stop taking endless pictures of foods and start smelling it and enjoying it with people around the table!
The smart table could also improves logistics for the restaurant by figuring out the average times a customer spent at the time, how much they spent and what they ate. They could tell why some tables took longer than others and perhaps eliminate dishes from the menu that are not creating profit. A quick tally of meals spent can also help restaurant figure out what food to buy …”MIGHT” this help improving profit margins?