by Martin Field
The chief boffin in our R&D department is about to patent a design for an electronic menu.
Basically, the E-menu (as she likes to call it) is designed to increase efficiency of ordering, to provide detailed information to diners, to minimise the unwanted attention of pushy waiters and sommeliers and thereby to reduce the number of floor staff. There are obvious cost savings related to this latter aim.
The wi-fi menu can be permanently installed in dining tables, one at each setting or, as a less expensive alternative, can take the form of a menu folder to be handed out to individual guests.
The E-menu is a programmable, touch screen device that the diner scrolls through to see a restaurant’s courses and prices. Each menu item can be highlighted and this in turn will invoke a dropdown list with a detailed description of that course and suggested wine matches. Daily specials will scroll across the bottom of the screen.
A wine list will be incorporated into the main menu folder or on a separate screen. Each wine (and beverage) item will have a dropdown list with details of its region, vintage, style etc. along with suggested food matches.
When diners have made their selections by ticking their choices, their order and table number will be transmitted onto a screen in the kitchen. At any time during the meal, diners may then use the E-menu to call for service, order the next course or another drink, and ask for the bill.
A detailed bill will appear on the menu screen on which diners can then select cash, card, separate bills etc. Credit card details can be entered by a swipe facility that will generate a paper or onscreen signature request. A hardcopy receipt will be printed at reception.
Guests will also have the ability to text simple messages to the staff. For example, ‘Another magnum of Veuve, sillvuplay!’ ‘Compliments to the chef.’ ‘Tourniquet please, this lamb is so rare it’s still bleeding!’ Et cetera.
Expressions of interest, offers of venture capital are invited.