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iPads as menus?

What are your thoughts on using iPads as menus in restaurants and shops? Does it end up being less/more cost effective? Do you charge a customer if they break/damage the device?

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  1. Charge the customer for damage? That's a sure way of scaring people away. I would consider iPad damage as part of the business cost, not a customer cost.

    I would suggest sticking with paper stock for menus, but have servers use iPads to enter orders at the table.

    1. This is an expensive solution to a simple problem. Paper menus are cheaper than ever, because restaurants can revise them and print them as needed.

      It doesn't make any sense for waiters to use them, either. What problem are you trying to solve?

      1 Reply
      1. re: GH1618

        I was more curious - I've heard of many places doing this now, and think similar thoughts as you. I just wondered if this is something we're going to start seeing more because it's actually useful? Or because it's trendy.

      2. Expensive solution to a non-problem.

        I have used an iPad wine list. Novel as hell but cumbersome to use and slow to display all the wines on the list. I can scan a list with my eyes in moments per page.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sal_acid

          I've also seen that at a restaurant in San Francisco CA. It all seemed a bit awkward and precious to me.

        2. I've seen wait staff use iPod touch (or similar) to take orders, and think that works well. The handheld devices sends orders automatically to the restaurant computer system, making them almost instantly available in the kitchen. This saves time for the waitstaff since they don't have to keep going back to a central terminal to enter orders, and I imaging it also reduces errors since there is one less layer of communication.

          I can see iPads being a novelty, but don't see much advantage in the long term. At current prices, they are not cost effective. As prices drop, the cost might even out, but not likely.

          We are planning to start using tablets to collect data from patients in a medical research setting, and would never dream of passing the damage costs on the participants. In the restaurant setting, I would like damage/breakage for iPads would be handled the same as broken dishes - a cost of doing business. There are plenty of cases and other accessories available to minimize damage.

          1. I don't even know why any restaurant would want to incur the expense.

            1. I can't see an iPad as being useful, too expensive and closed to development. If one were to look at other tablets, Android OS, the costs are significantly cheaper, with open source development. So a business could have someone develop an app, unique to their business. As a menu, it would offer, more than a paper menu could do. Show, various photos of the items, ingredients and calorie info could be added.
              So you look and see Pork done Catalina style. select, up comes a photo, select for ingredients, etc. Would help with dietary restrictions. Also, while the customer was using the tablet, they could fill in a small questionnaire. The Business could capture email addresses for future mailings and offers, could keep track of a customer's likes and avoidances, even get feedback on the experience.
              Of course, paper menus should always be available, for those who prefer not to do tech.
              Lots of up side with it, the cost of the tablets and insurance would be one of the down sides

              4 Replies
              1. re: Quine

                To me, the iPad could be useful, but it is overkill for restaurant use. It's almost like giving each patron a laptop. What might make more sense is for some forward-thinking company to come up with a device with more limited functionality specifically aimed at restaurants. All the stuff an iPad could do for a restaurant patron could be just one app. Why not make a simpler, and much cheaper device, that runs only that app? Patrons would each get the device, where they could see menu items, click through for details on technique, ingredients, allergy info, and so on, and have a way to message someone with any other questions. One waiter could cover a lot more tables that way. Not sure I'd like it, because I like interacting with a good waiter, but for the restaurant, it would be more efficient, and a lot of customers would like it. Anyway, that could be an app on an iPad, but it could also be a simpler device that does only that function.

                1. re: MelMM

                  First there are Non-iPad tablets out there. These are cheaper, come in different sizes, and with the Android, open source, there are many developers,writing lots of free apps. So already have the cheaper, and why limit, what uses the customer can use it for, while dining? A few simple game apps, or a "draw me something" app, is the same as giving kids, crayons and a place mat to color.
                  One function devices are rapidly going down the same path as the T-Rex. Advances are happening so quickly, and new ways to utilize tablets develop from using them, that limiting the scope to one app only function would seem short sighted.
                  Some patrons, perhaps like you, would opt out, preferring to work with a good server, or because they find tech confusing.

                  1. re: Quine

                    Um, I do NOT find tech confusing. I have worked in Web development, and have multiple technical degrees. But there are reasons to limit a device. One is to make it cheap for the business purchasing it. Another is because you don't want unknown customers or employees to have too much capability. POS systems in restaurants and retail stores are limited devices. They are good at what they need to do.

                    1. re: MelMM

                      Sorry you misread my statement "Some patrons, perhaps like you, would opt out, preferring to work with a good server" as a suggestion that you find tech confusing.
                      It is clear what your stance is, thank you.

              2. We have a local restaurant that uses iPads for menu and wine orders. It's a novel idea and one people remember. I thought it was gimmicky but others seem to enjoy it and you pay on the iPad and get your receipt sent to your email seconds after paying.

                1. Better to just e-mail the menus to my smartphone.