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A MIT Dropout Became an Entrepreneur by Bridging Technology and Restaurant Service

We had a discussion about technology, college dropouts, and higher education earlier. This CNN News video shows us a start-up of bridging the tablet technology and restaurant service¹. The entrepreneur happened to be a MIT dropout².
Actually, using a tablet computer like iPad as a menu in a restaurant or in a hotel’s Concierge is not new.  This start-up builds its service in a cheaper device, a smaller tablet. Currently customers can play games, view pictures of the menu items, order meals, and make a payment directly on the tablet, but this technology is not designed to completely replace wait service --- at least, not yet at this point.
The start-up charges $100 to $200 per month for the service.  There are about 300 restaurants in the U.S. that have already adopted the menu-tablet service. It seems that customers love this service; restaurant owners can probably save labor costs and increase sales with new service and a higher table turnover rate.

How do you like/dislike this service? Will technology become a thread of jobs that are done by human beings? If so, what can waiters or waitresses do to re-position themselves so that they can continue working in the restaurant industry? If you are running a restaurant business, what business opportunities do you see from this menu-tablet technology?

An example of “Great Entrepreneurship Ideas Must Root in Useful Service."
2. You may read more discussion about the value of college education in the previous discussion (also in the comment section).



  1. I think this service is very innovated, i like it, we are constantly evolving so so should our business, schools, homes, ect. From a HR stand point this could potential be very dangerous to peoples jobs. Getting rid of a wait staff could cause a lot of job loss, my sister and i both work in a restaurant, her full time, and me only when im home from school, but we make very good money in the establishment we work at, and if our restaurant caught eye of this information we would both be out of a job, and lose a significant portion of our income. i think this tablet could also potentially make money for a company as well, since not every where has this type of technology people will want to come and try out, there for bringing in more business. In the restaurant establishment there is already a food runner but in place in busier restaurants, more of the wait stuff would have to become just food runners i think if they wanted to keep there job, or maybe they could be in charge of certain tables orders, helping customers as soon as there orders come in with small side tasks like they could get the non-alcoholic drinks ready, provide the silverware, bring them extra condiments and of course serve the food. You could have some be there just to walk around re fill water glasses, anything that could make them some money. Like i said before i like this tablet idea, i think it is really cool and innovated, and fits in with our evolving community, we will just have to see what it will do for the staff of the restaurants.

    -Samantha Dana

  2. While this tool is innovative and is nice when trying to get in and out of a restaurant I would not like to see it become a widespread device. I believe that we need to stop looking at ways to speed everything up, instead we should be slowing down and appreciating whatever situation we are in. With this at a restaurant there is less time to enjoy your company or even the food. If I owned a business I wouldn't want to use this because no relationship would be able to be built between the customer and the staff which I believe is important.

  3. I enjoyed watching this video clip because I believe new and upcoming technology does have a place in foodservice operations. For example, entering customer’s orders into a computer that is linked to the kitchen is a system that is integrated into many operations today. From a business perspective, the tablet shown in the video clip seems to be a valuable tool to incorporate in a foodservice operation because it can increase the speed and efficiency of service, which would increase the table turnover rate. In addition, this device emphasizes convenience since customers do not have to wait for servers to come to their table to take their order or payment. However, before incorporating this device into any hospitality operation, it is important to keep in mind the clientele that the operation serves and is trying to attract. For instance, younger customers who are tech-savvy or customers who are looking for fast service would most likely accept this device. However, older customers may not find this as convenient and may prefer a traditional service experience when eating out. Overall, I like this service, and think it could have a place in certain types of foodservice operations however, it should not be used to completely replace servers and hostesses who set the atmosphere of a restaurant by providing friendly service.

    -Elyse Freschi, NSD 314 student

  4. As technology advances, it seems though face to face communication has become an art form. In the hospitality industry, I am assuming that those who are interested in the field have strong communication skills, or in other words, hospitable. The idea of ordering food electronically in my mind weakens the "art of communication" and provides the opportunity to the employer that their job is not needed or not as important as it was before. For example, it loses the ability for the waiter/waitress to introduce themselves to the customers and could possibly affect their pay with a lower tip percentage.

    Nonetheless, the tablet does provide an innovative and efficient way in ordering food. It also eliminates the possibility of human error in ordering food,etc. There are pros and cons with the tablet and I can't wait to see how the hospitality industry will change with advancement in technology.

    -Jenifer La NSD 314

  5. After reading this post and watching the video clip, I am reassured that the use of technology should be regarded as a permanent fixture in the food service industry today. As other posters have stated, I believe that the use of tablets in restaurants will reduce the amount of human error in restaurants by allowing the customers to choose the dishes they want. Although these technological innovations streamline and simplify the communication between customers and the back of the house, I don't believe iPads should REPLACE servers. Instead, the tablets should COMPLEMENT service to enhance the customers enjoyable experience at the establishment. I recently visited a Boston restaurant called Daikanyama that uses this type of technology. There were iPads at every table that contained the menu, descriptions of each dish and images of the chefs creations. The majority of the servers were tech savvy "millennials" who gave a brief tutorial and demonstrated how the iPads worked before giving the customers time to decide what they wanted to order. From what I overheard, customers especially enjoyed the pictures of the food because some of them were not familiar with Japanese cuisine and didn't know what to expect. The iPad's images reduced any anxieties clients may have had with an unfamiliar cuisine and made them feel more comfortable without sacrificing the human contact that comes with the employment of servers. From an ecological standpoint, I think restaurants should utilize iPads and tablets because they will eliminate the need for paper menus, which aren't as earth friendly. Instead of printing new menus every time a new dish is introduced, everything can be revised online. To conclude, I think the usage of technology is definitely warranted and is an excellent complement to keeping customers happy in with the service of a food service establishment.
    -Katrina G. Wong, NSD 314

  6. I find this new technology to be both a blessing and a curse. In a way it is a blessing (mainly for quick eat restaurants) because customers can get in and out of the restaurant fast, ordering as soon as they sit down, not having to wait for their serever. Also, they can pay quickly without having to wait for a check. I also think this tablet idea could be a blessing because for the customer being able to see pictures of the food they are ordering may ensure the customer that they will be getting exactly what they know they asked for, no surprises.
    On the other hand, this tablet in many ways can be a curse. It will take away from the traditional dining experience. Now that customers will be able to play games on the tablet, it will take away from the conversation, interacting, and enjoying each others company that always went hand in hand with going out for a meal. In addition, the whole point of going out to a restaurant is for a social experience, not having a waiter or waitress but having a computer take your order just does not seem right to me. Overall, I think this could be a positive addition to a restaurant for places like airports or small quick cafes, where people want to get in, eat, and get out. Otherwise I think the restaurant industry could do without these tablets and each table.
    - Jamie Rieff NSD314


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