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Take that, Gordon Ramsay! Table PCs are the next restaurant paradigm!

Updated on July 13, 2008
Tabletop computers are the next fine dining paradigm!
Tabletop computers are the next fine dining paradigm!

Although some completely absurd trends seem to be taking over fine dining, such as molecular gastronomy which is little more than the art of feeding people chemicals that they wouldn't ordinarily want to have in their house to kill insects and charging them $100 a plate for the privilege, restaurateurs are still decades behind the times when it comes to implementing personal computer technology into their operations. Sure, most have some form of POS (Point Of Sale, not Piece Of...) computers in their restaurants for billing purposes, almost none of these systems is used for other functions such as inventory control in order to keep the chef for reaching into the bay scallops bin and pulling out nothing but dust.

The biggest single failure of fine dining restaurants to implement computer technology has to be in the interface with their customers. They are all still relying on snooty waiters with fake Belgian accents, or hyperpneumatic waitresses with cleavage down to there to take the orders for the meals. They all seem to be deaf dumb and blind to the possibilities offered by personal computers right at the table.

No self respecting restaurateur would dream of plunking flatscreens amidst the fine linen and Waterford crystal of his tables. " Aaaai am nottt runneeng an interneeeet cafe!" they will sneer as they Gallic shrug and walk away. However, that would be a severe failure of vision, as computer interfaces directly at the table of fine dining restaurants could be an invaluable boost to providing superlative service.

Imagine if you could be seated at a table with a flat screen, perhaps built into the tabletop itself a la Microsoft Surface. From this touchscreen you could not only just view the menu, but could look at each dish in detail, and deconstruct it as you wished. Let's say that you wanted to enjoy a wonderful grilled chicken breast and jasmine rice romaine salad with raisins and peanuts, but since you would rather not take chances at going into anaphylactic shock, you drag and drop the peanuts out of the ingredient list, and perhaps substitute them with pine nuts. You could customize your selections to suit you precisely, and there could even be an animated Flash chef who would pop up and ask you if you really think that substituting the raspberry vinaigrette for a chocolate mole sauce is really a good idea and whether the white truffle infused extra virgin olive oil wouldn't be a better choice. Then the Flash sommelier could pop up and suggest that a 1996 Chateau Cos d'Estournel Cabernet Sauvignon 2eme Cru Classe for a mere $200 would be a perfect match. Dieters, diabetics and other people who have to watch their food intake would also benefit from having instantaneously updated nutrition information displayed on each dish, and could experiment with replacing the jasmine rice with long grain to drop the glycemic index, swapping out the raisins for blueberries to cut the carbs, or trading the peanuts for diced apple to chop the calories. Whatever modification would be made to the dish, the monitor would immediately display the revised nutritional information to allow the diner to custom tailor every aspect of the meal.

Not only would this implementation of basic computer technology allow for diners to receive exactly what they wanted but it would drastically cut the most expensive part of running a restaurant: staff salaries. Waiters and waitresses would be required only to actually serve the food and to troubleshoot should there be any questions from the customers, which would cut any restaurant's salary overhead significantly.

It is only a matter of time until tabletop touchscreens become the de rigeur accessory for all progressive fine dining restaurants. Why not get a head start?


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