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Tech @ The Table

Technology has started playing more of a role in the restaurant industry.

In recent years, tech has started making the ordering process simpler… whether that comes in the form of ordering takeout online, a server submitting an order on a screen instead of running a piece of paper into the kitchen, or a delivery service such a Uber Eats.

COVID-19 has brought technology at dining table to a different level.

Some individuals, including myself to an extent, may not love this. But tough bananas… It’s happening.

The times necessitate it.

"[In-store technology] reduces labor costs and you can use it as a marketing tool. Some [restaurants] are going to use as much tech as possible to give you an excellent experience with little or no touch," said David Sherwyn, law professor at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and the director of the Cornell Center for Innovative Hospitality, Labor and Employment Relations.

The main thing here is QR codes, which are becoming increasingly commonplace in restaurants and bars across the country over the last 12 months of this horrible pandemic. If you’ve ventured out to dine / imbibe over the past year, perhaps you’ve participated in this technology.

It’s quite simple: Simply get out your smartphone and scan the code with your camera. Your camera catches the QR code and opens up the menu. Often times, you can even order and pay from your phone. The main attraction here being that during the pandemic it is as contactless as possible.

You may be asking yourself: “What about if two grannies go out for a nice lunch together and have flip phones?” I am afraid to say that I cannot provide you with an answer to this question.

Back to the topic at hand.

The rise of tech in the dining room is undeniably inevitable at some point in the future. And with the staggering percentage of small businesses barely staying afloat, it is a no-brainer to implement anything that will help get customers in the door and feel comfortable.

It wouldn’t be outlandish to think that tables could turnover faster, thus generating more money for restaurant owners. QR codes would slash the printing cost associated with paper menus, too.

Increased technology in the dining room can also be viewed as a plus for us diners as well… beyond the assurance of feeling safer by not interacting with another human during a pandemic.

The whole process could end up being a whole lot faster. Think about it.

That dreaded 10-minute wait when you first sit down and are totally ignored would cease to exist. You wouldn’t have to flag your server down if you wanted to order something else. That dreaded 10-minute wait for the bill to be presented, paid and returned would become a thing of the past. Your dining experience may end up being cheaper, as the going rate for tipping the server who didn’t do all that much would go down.

Perhaps servers will become a thing of the past. More likely, though, is that their services will continue to be needed, albeit on a smaller scale.

How do you feel about all this? I don’t love it.

Absolutely, the times necessitate it… to an extent.

But some people are old fashioned, myself included. They believe that part of the entire dining / hospitality experience at its very core is being wined and dined by a server. The feeling of relaxation and leisure that result from it. The banter.

Another argument you could make is that there is simply no way servers will entirely cease to exist.

Some people, and you’re lying if you don’t know one, are a huge pain in the ass while dining. They make custom orders, they send their food back, they want things brought out at a certain time.

What about the financial hit servers could see from the increase of tech in the dining room? That wouldn’t be all too great for these people who have just been screwed by a pandemic for a month & are now potentially about to get left in the dust thanks to technology.

Don’t get me wrong, the rise of tech in the restaurant industry is needed at the moment and was inevitable to occur at some point.

I have no issue with it for certain types of casual restaurants and bars even after the pandemic ceases to exist.

But I hope and believe that the formal dining experience, the one where the server caters to your every need, will stay the same.

Stick a needle in my arm and I’ll be out and about all over town more than I ever was before. In my opinion, regardless of your age, you should do the same.

For yourself and for small businesses.

What are we going to do? Stay at home for the rest of our lives?

I totally support being cautious and looking out for one’s health and the health of those close to you in your circle before you get a vaccine.

It has disgusted me every single time I am inside a gas station and see people disobeying the rules and perusing the store maskless.

I could care less if your argument is that there are no proven data that says they work. They certainly can't hurt, and probably do help to an extent, so suck it up and wear one.

Hopefully the end of all this is near. We must hold out hope.

Perhaps by mid-summer we will all be vaccinated.

The only way life will return to normal is if we trust our doctors and claim victory over this thing.

Similar to how the pandemic has changed Corporate America (as I previously wrote about), the same thing seems to be taking place within our beloved restaurant industry.


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