For decades, going out to eat has stayed the same. You wait for a table, eat, and pay. But now, the tech savvy culture has invaded the eating out scene in an effort to try to make your experience a little better.
’Everyone uses a cell phone,’ says Josh Bob. And with that in mind, this local entrepreneur founded Textaurant, hoping to change the way we wait for a table. Instead of waiting in the lobby or holding onto a restaurant pager, restaurants using the system give you an accurate wait time and will simply text you when your table is almost ready.
’It’s certainly worth the while to wait an hour where you want instead of waiting for the table in the restaurant lobby,’ Bob says.
At Café Luigi in Bedford, Textaurant has helped the busy Italian eatery, where the wait can be up to an hour and a half on a busy weekend.
’It gets really, you know, pretty tight. But that’s why this works out great. So the folks don’t have to wait here,’ says Richard Stoico of Café Luigi.
’We are adding in the capability to receive a phone call instead, anyone who has a cell phone can do it. Not just those who text message,’ Bob says.
Textaurant hopes to soon be able to allow you to see wait times and join the wait from your computer at home. So the first time you enter the restaurant, your table is waiting.
’As far as we’re concerned, a lot of these venues are social venues, so it makes sense to bring social medial to a social venue,’ says Stephen Randall, of Cambridge’s LocaModa. LocaModa is aiming to make your time in restaurants, cafes and bars, a little more sociable.
The company installs screens in 15,000 locations in the U.S. You are encouraged to send your tweets, Facebook messages, FourSquare check-ins, texts, and pictures to the interactive screen to be displayed.
’It’s a way of saying `hey, I want to say hello,’ and sometimes a phone and a text message is an easier icebreaker than walking over and saying that,’ Randall says.
The company says people use the screens for everything from flirting to talking about their favorite ice cream flavor, and even proposing marriage.
’While you’re waiting for your table, there’s messages on the screen or there’s a game on the screen, and you didn’t realize you were waiting five or ten minutes but now you’re table is ready, so it’s all part of the experience,’ Randall says.
’You have your text savvy people that are extremely excited about this,’ says Kerri Scott from Legal Seafoods. Even paying the check has been revolutionized. At Legal Seafoods, there’s no need to hand over your credit card to a server anymore.
’Ultimately, the credit card doesn’t leave the guest’s hands. It gives the guests that added security,’ Scotts says.
Legal has been using pay-at-the-table devices in their restaurants that take you step by step through the process to pay with a credit card. They allow you split the check with a friends, and if you’re not a math whiz, don’t worry, they even help you figure out the tip.
’A lot of people come in and they first see these in Europe and they’ve used them on vacation, and they’re really excited that we’ve brought them here,’ Scott says. But no need to sweat it if you aren’t as tech savvy, the server will walk you through it.
Just a few examples of how some local restaurants are staying on the cutting edge, serving up your meal with a side of innovation.