Tech in the Hands of Servers

Consumers spend hours navigating apps on their mobile devices. Now restaurants are getting in on the game.

As hardware costs drop, restaurants are arming servers with sleek, handheld units that manage orders, communicate with the kitchen, and improve table turns. These were a few motives that prompted The Monument Cafe in Georgetown, Texas, to add the technology to its namesake brand and sister concept over the last two years.

Serving 500,000 guests a year, “we wanted to expand hospitality and increase interaction between our diners and servers,” says Rusty Winkstern, co-owner of The Monument Cafe, a roadside restaurant with farm-to-table fare.

The restaurant’s servers began using NCR Orderman devices in 2012, accurately capturing diners’ preferences, substitutions, dietary requirements, or other special requests via an interactive touch screen. Orders are electronically delivered to the kitchen within seconds.

The company’s El Monumento brand followed suit in 2013. Armed with 24 interactive devices, servers are improving the dining experience for its 250,000 annual guests. Winkstern says servers now validate orders more easily and eliminate mistakes and the need to return to the table.

Both locations upped the ante this spring by adding runners to the mix. As servers input drink and appetizer orders, runners deliver prepared drinks and starters to the table, often while the server is still explaining the menu and specials, or taking main course orders.

Between the two eateries, servers turn tables eight to 10 minutes faster, and order mistakes dropped from 5 percent per day to less than 1 percent.

Kentucky-based Tumbleweed Tex Mex Grill & Margarita Bar, a casual-dining chain with 25 locations, integrated mobile tableside ordering when it opened its two-floor Louisville location in 2005.

“With one-third of our seating (about 150 seats) on an outdoor patio, we needed to communicate,” says director of IT Steve Brooks. “We wanted more order accuracy and more security when taking card payments tableside.”


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