It’s no abstruse that dining out has been aching by the recession.
Now some restaurants are aggravating to about-face things about by application Apple’s iPad book computers to accommodate a agenda dining experience.
Buffalo Wild Wings, based in Golden Valley, and a few added restaurants about the country are experimenting with accepting barter adjustment or pay application an iPad at their table. The hope, of course, is that the accessory will accession aliment and alcohol sales.
“Restaurant sales accept decreased back the alpha of the recession,” said Aaron Allen, a restaurant adviser in Orlando, Fla. “Part of the iPad’s account to restaurants is the change of it. But there haven’t been any studies yet of whether application iPads helps advance sales.”
In a 60-day ysis that began Feb. 29 at Buffalo Wild Wings’ Oakdale restaurant, barter are offered the advantage of accepting an iPad at their table. They can use it to browse the menu, adjustment aliment and drinks and pay for the meal (via a card-swiping accessory absorbed to the iPad.) Barter can additionally comedy amateur or browse websites.
The iPad isn’t meant to alter employees, who will still be accessible to acknowledgment chump questions and to accompany aliment to the table. And it won’t be affected on customers; the Oakdale area has 25 iPads, costing about $500 each, for about 60 tables.
Buffalo Wild Wings hopes the iPad will accession sales by giving barter added ascendancy over back they adjustment aliment or a additional annular of drinks, and that it will amuse parents by allowance absorb children.
One Buffalo Wild Wings customer, Sheng Hang of St. Paul, admired application the iPad to pay the bill instead of cat-and-mouse for the server.
“I anticipate the iPad would be abundant for the active hours of any restaurant,” she said. “I would adjustment and ysis out back I’m ready.”
And, because the iPad takes over the acclimation process, servers will accept added time to babble with guests and animate them to comedy added restaurant-wide games, such a trivia contest, that are believed to animate acknowledgment visits.
“If this goes well, we’ll ultimately cycle it out everywhere over the advance of a year or two,” said Ben Nelsen, carnality admiral of bedfellow acquaintance and accession at Buffalo Wild Wings, which has 325 company-owned restaurants and 500 franchises. “Right now we’ve got to accomplish abiding this works for us financially.”
During an beforehand ysis in Canada, the iPad fabricated barter added acquainted that Buffalo Wild Wings offers added than aloof wings, which tends to advice sales, Nelsen said.
In Oakdale, the banking ambition is to access sales per chump and to accomplish added acknowledgment visits. Aboriginal expectations are that 20 percent of guests may absorb $1 to $2 added per appointment because the iPad gives them added ascendancy over back they adjustment appetizers or desserts, he said.
The accessory should additionally accumulate restaurant operations. Because guests can abode an adjustment via the iPad instead of accepting a aide address it down, it’s accepted that beneath acclimation mistakes will be made, extenuative money, Nelsen said.
Buffalo Wild Wings additionally is because affairs artefact adjustment advertising.
“When a chump types in abstract beer, he or she can see pictures of the aboriginal four items,” Nelsen said. “We ability advertise announcement to those vendors and distributors who appetite their articles to appearance up aboriginal on the menu. But we haven’t gone bottomward that alley yet.”
Several abate restaurants beyond the country additionally are application iPads as a way to present added detail about wine choices or to action added pictures of food, said Jack Serfass, CEO of Uptown Network, a Naples, Fla., software close that programs iPads for restaurants.
“Electronic airheaded accept acute benefits, such as giving guests added advice so they accept aplomb in what they’re ordering,” Serfass said. “I accept cardboard airheaded will absolutely go abroad over time.”
Nine Chili’s restaurants in the Twin Cities action barter a book computer (not an iPad) on which they can browse the menu, buy cine tickets, comedy amateur or pay electronically.
“The capital ambition was to accommodate an acquaintance that not everybody abroad offers, including accessibility and a greater bulk of information,” said Phil Wenckus, Wisconsin-based administrator of operations for ERJ Dining of Louisville, Ky., Chili’s better franchisee.
What sets Buffalo Wild Wings afar is the admeasurement to which the iPad fits into its approved restaurant operations. The Oakdale restaurant was called for the ysis because it was already installing a new cyberbanking banknote annals arrangement that was added iPad-compatible, Nelsen said. In addition, the ysis was delayed several months so the iPad provider, Idaho-based HubWorks Interactive, could ensure that the card-swiping accessories complied with aegis standards.
“Restaurants are in the aboriginal adopter appearance of bedfellow computers,” Allen said. “And Buffalo Wild Wings knows there’s an befalling in actuality early.”
Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553
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