More technology use at restaurants?

I went to Plumed Horse (PH) restaurant in Saratoga, California on Valentine’s day.  I was all ready for a nice dinner, but the service took a turn for the worse although the food was really good.  I’ve never worked in the restaurant biz, so I can only comment from a consumer perspective.

A few things that I wish didn’t happen too often when I am at a restaurant:

  • With a reservation, you have to wait longer.  At PH, we waited an extra 30 mins past our reservation time.
  • The waiter does not serve you in the order that you are seated.  At PH, interesting enough, we sat between two tables.  One table arrived after us, another table arrived before us.  The waiter went to the table who arrived last, then went to the table who arrived first, then eventually came to our table after the first-served table asked if we (my table) was ever going to get served.  Did you get all of that?
  • At a nice restaurant, the waiter does not take the time to explain the menu and drinking options.  At PH, the waiter stood there and waited for us to order and didn’t take the time to walk us through the fix-priced menu.  Keep in mind that this menu was on Valentine’s day and was not cheap.  I deserve better dammit!  :)
  • The waiter does not ask to replenish our drinks during the meal including some coffee at the end of the meal.  Argh, at PH, we were pretty much fed up with the service and decided to finish dessert and just get on out of there.  We did want some coffee but why give them more of our money.

Alright, so there are my gripes for Plumed Horse restaurant.  My suggestions on how to fix these issues with unlimited technology funds:

  • People can check online as to when the reservation table will be ready.  Better yet, the restaurant can text people when seating will be ready in 15-30 mins.  This would require the restaurant to really know the seating turnover time.  Do restaurants even keep such data?  I’m assuming yes if a computer is involved with reservations and seating.  If not, I’d be surprised.  Might as well mine this data and provide more accurate reservation times to folks.
  • For waiters to keep track of who came when and how long, maybe there are sensors in the seats.  When the sensor is activated, it will take a start time snapshot so that the waiter knows when the table was seated.  There also be some timing on when the order was taken and when the food was delivered.  I think these technologies exist, but not the “butt” sensor technology yet.
  • I would say that an interactive, e-book kind of menu would be the technology for explaining the menu to diners, but that is so impersonal.  So I suggest no technology for menu explanation and that restaurants are just going to have to do it the old fashioned way.
  • For the drink replenishing, maybe there’s a sensor built into the table that senses when the drink goes down to an almost-empty state.  This is a bit more tricky in that drink weight is different for glasses and liquids, also who monitors the sensors.  May be more pain than benefit.

OK, my two cents!

4 thoughts on “More technology use at restaurants?

  1. You could have a sensor *inside* the glass that can tell when it drops below a certain level. It would have to be clear, or fit within the pattern of the glass though.

  2. You could have a sensor in the glass however will the sensor be visible? The experience is about hiding technology too.

  3. First of all, valentines, new years eve, and mothers day are TERRIBLE days to dine out…. the restaurants always overbook because of an increased no show rate, the servers are stressed out, and the lack of language skills by kitchen and busser staff is appalling. The problems you encountered will be there forever, or for at least as long as restaurant employees continue to be categorized with migrant workers by the department of labor… this is done so that owners may pay below minimum wage, thus keeping your dinner cheaper.
    I suggest you try developing a mindset that allows you to experience happiness, regardless of what goes on around you.
    sorry to be so blunt, but it’s the truth.
    from indiana, USA

  4. Sophia, you are paying a lot on Valentines Day but so is everybody else. The restaurant can’t possible gauge how long a customer is going to sit and dine. Remember they have the same attitude you do in that they are paying a lot of money and they will stay as long as they please. If you are at a later or last seating you usually will have to wait a little bit to be seated especially on a day like Valentines Day, but you probably will be able to stay longer because the restaurant will not need your table later. If you want to be sat at exactly or before your reservation time, try going in at the first seating when you will be the first group being sat. But remember the first seating will probably be moved along faster in an effort to get the second seating sat in somewhat a timely fashion. Your “unlimited” technology idea would be ridiculous and unnecessary because you cannot possible gauge the attitude of every diner. Some will want to eat slower than others, talk more than others, etc. It is just human nature and that you will never be able to gauge no matter what the technology is.

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