Future Dining: a waiterless society

Restaurants go High Tech with e-Menus

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We might gripe about high prices, overdone steaks, or a long wait for a table, but nothing irritates us more than lousy service.

Restaurants are experimenting with a host of new gadgets, gizmos, and geekery that could reinvent restaurant service.

For now it’s mostly a marketing gimmick, but ultimately restaurant owners hope to reduce staffing costs by automating many functions. For the diner it can mean an end to desperate efforts to flag down an inattentive waiter. No more intrusive social interaction with “hello-my-name-is-kimberly-and-I’ll-be-your-server.”

But what will happen to all of those out-of-work actors?

Rube Goldberg in Bavaria

‘s Baggers on the outskirts of Nuremberg in Bavaria calls itself a Restaurant of the 3rd Dimension, surpassing full-service and self-service (dimensions 1 and 2). Orders are placed on touchscreens and the food (prepared by human chefs) arrives via conveyor belts and a spiraling, gravity-fed rail system. Check out the video on their website.

Virtual reality dining

Inamo, a pan-Asian fusion restaurant in London’s West End, puts the technology front-and-center with ‘smart’ tables. As a diner scrolls through the menu, food images are projected onto the tabletop. A touch to a chosen image brings details about ingredients, nutrition, and preparation, and another touch sends the order to the kitchen. Play games on the tabletop while the meal cooks, then set the table with your choice of virtual tablecloth.

Pong and pizza

California’s uWink restaurant chain is the brainchild of Nolan Bushnell, the man who brought us Atari. He envisioned uWink as a kind of grown up version of Chuck E. Cheese, also a Bushnell creation. Waiterless orders are placed at tabletop touchscreens and delivered by food runners. The screens double as game consoles, and are networked for table-to-table gaming. After inducing nightmares in a generation of pizza-party guests, the Chuck E. Cheese robotic mice are thankfully absent.

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Japan’s Laksmi-do Corporation has developed a robotic serving table suitable for home use. View a demo on the company’s website.

In an effort to foster more meaningful relationships between man and machines, a robot was given a Facebook page in a month-long experiment.

A current Facebook campaign endeavors to prove that a robot can become more popular than the sausage roll that has 1.5 million Facebook friends.

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2 Responses to Future Dining: a waiterless society

  1. Leoma Giedlin says:

    Enthusiasm is what will get you started. Habit is what keeps you going

  2. Smokey says:

    Janice,
    Yet another entertaining and fun filled article!

    AND you “nailed it”…I was never happier than when both boys outgrew “Chucky Cheese”…I swear those mice are creepier than “Jason” and his hockey mask!

    Cheers!

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