E-Tablets Can Drive up Checks, Speed Service Times and Heighten Hospitality By Alissa Ponchione
When it comes to new technology, there’s no shortage of innovative products. Although it’s hard to
discern which ones have longevity, it’s important not to turn a blind eye to novel concepts
being introduced to the industry, such as the
new e-tablet ordering and point-of-sale (POS)
systems that cater to an operator’s basic goals.
Boasting efficient service and ease of payment
as well as prioritizing customer focus — so
you’re selling more of your profitable menu
items — e-tablets are designed to increase
sales with the touch of a button.
What Works for You
E-tablets are fairly new to the game — while
pioneers appeared on the market two years
ago, most debuted this year — and although
they come in many forms, each has the same
purpose: to drive higher check averages
and table turn rates as well as enable a more
efficient workflow for your establishment,
ultimately translating into bigger profits.
Laura Olson, co-owner of The Social, a
and nightclub set to open in Seattle later this
year, plans to use Hub Works Interactive systems in the venue’s 12 VIP booths. Hub Works
runs FoodHub and DrinkHub for foodservice
and bars, respectively; software is compatible
with any iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system,
allowing patrons to place orders and pay from
table-mounted iPads on which pictures and
descriptions are visible. For help, customers
page a server by clicking on an “assistance”
button; a pop-up menu appears with a list of
customer needs, including ordering refills, asking for condiments and needing menu help,
minimizing table trips for the server.
Hub Works software provides patrons with
entertainment options as well, including the
use of Facebook and Foursquare. This is ideal
for Olson, who plans to use Hub Works to
stream check-ins, live chats and photos on
large projection screens throughout the venue.
“It’s not just an ordering system,” she says.
“It’s a really big part of building a community,”
not only by personalizing guest experiences,
but also by decreasing wait times for patrons.
E-tablet devices vary. At The Post Sports Bar
& Grill in St. Louis, Owner Adrian Glass chose
e Tab International’s e Tab device; it has its own
interface that integrates seamlessly with existing POS systems. Described as iPad-like but
smaller and more compact, e Tab allows customers to place orders using a touch screen.
Servers are notified on handheld devices when
they’ve been paged for menu assistance, food
has been ordered or a customer is ready to pay.
“It’s going to be the future of the restaurant
industry,” Glass says. “It’s going to enhance
the customer experience.” In fact, Glass hopes
his patrons will be able to use e Tab to check
fantasy-league scores in the future.
For many business owners, e-menus may
seem daunting, but wireless POS systems that
integrate with common handheld devices,
such as Apple products, can provide a conduit
to this evolving technology.
Service at Jones, a large restaurant and bar
with an 8,000-square-foot outdoor rooftop
patio in San Francisco, is streamlined with
POSlavu’s system. Servers access the POSlavu
application on an iPod Touch or at an iPad terminal; 10 iPad terminals are available to staff at
Jones, with eight at the three bar areas. Servers
can see table arrangements, take orders and, if
they’re using the iPod Touch, show customers
high-definition pictures of the food as well as
customize orders on the spot. Orders are sent
to the kitchen or bar area where a receipt is
Mike Reigle, co-owner of Jones, chose
POSlavu not only because it’s “a cool, new
technology” but also because it’s “more
user-friendly for the servers,” allowing them to
spend more time interacting with customers
and fielding menu questions.
Guests at The Post are greeted not only with a
friendly smile but also an e Tab device. After a
server checks them in via e Tab, the customers
have free reign over the menu.
“When people come in here for a game,
they’re in here for hours,” Glass explains. “They
Adrian Glass (opposite page right), owner of The Post Sports Bar & Grill (below) in St. Louis, says e Tab (opposite page left) enables quicker service. Hub Works Interactive (left) displays menu items and entertainment options on its screen.
32 Nightclub & Bar Magazine | OC TOBER 2011