Remember those days? They might be over.
A New York City Italian restaurant, De Santos, has now become an all-iPad restaurant. Customers are handed an iPad2 instead of a menu. These electronic devices are also used for "taking orders, sending them wirelessly to the kitchen, and for paying the bill via a customized point-of-sale system. The iPad's software will even show customers the entire specifics of each dish on the menu." This concept is, reportedly, very hot in Asia right now. Some analysts think it will become as popular in the United States.
Who needs a professional trained server in this kind of environment? A restaurant would require only food runners. Then again, I can remember when a different kind of cutting-edge technology, the telephone, was going to revolutionalize restaurants. Uh huh.
We asked local waiter and blogger David Hayden to weigh in:
"The iPad," he says, "isn't going to replace the fork you dropped or make sure that your steak is cooked properly. It won't keep your water full or suggest a great bottle of wine. The perception, however, is that the server is doing less and thus deserves less of a tip. This will mean it is harder for the restaurant to attract quality servers, and the low-quality servers they retain will only accentuate the shortcomings of the iPad."
This is a publicity stunt that will succeed, but my hopes for a restaurant that sacrifices service for a publicity stunt are not as high. When you want to go play with an iPad, you go to the Apple Store. When you want a great meal, you go to a restaurant with professional servers there to take care of you."