The Birth of the iRestaurant |

At De Santos, the high-end Italian restaurant that’s inhabited the West Village for the better part of three years, waiters buzz around armed with sleek iPad 2 tablets, swiftly taking orders and swiping credit cards on the devices.

While it may sound crazy to replace lined notepads that cost $1.50 with $500 iPads, De Santos owners claim the new system saves money—and allows the restaurant to make something of a fashion statement while streamlining its ordering system.

The iPads can do everything associated with the day-to-day functions of the restaurant—namely, taking orders, sending them to the kitchen, and paying for the bill—but makes it simpler and much more time- and money-efficient. The customized POS system, which appears as an app on every server’s iPad, can access the restaurant’s table and seating chart, as well as a full visual menu from the kitchen and the bar.

“Nowadays in New York City, the menus don’t list the entire specifications of each dish,” Gonella says. “With this software, you can show them exactly the dish itself and all the specifications for each dish, so people are really buying what they’re seeing and there’s no more confusion. It’s pretty important.”

With the entire menu in detail on the iPad, waiters simply choose each item from the library of menu options. Once the order is complete, it’s sent wirelessly to the kitchen and bar, where the order is printed out and punched. For the waitstaff, this means no more extra trips to the terminal to repeat the full order; this technology frees up servers to see more tables, take more orders, serve more drinks, and chat with customers.

“Now the kitchen’s fast,” Gonella says. “They have four or five more minutes to prepare the dish, so the food is coming very quickly. It’s a huge difference because that’s more or less the time it takes to prepare a dish, unless it’s lamb or filet mignon. It’s really efficient.”
“We have a credit card swiper so you can [pay] directly from the iPad,” Gonella says. “They can also sign on the iPad for their bill, and if they wanted to get the receipt by e-mail, we can send it by e-mail, so I don’t have to waste paper.”
Compared to traditional POS systems like Aloha, which will typically cost a restaurant at least $30,000 to install, De Santos’s tailor-made POS system for the iPad took a fraction of the price to produce. Between contracting Igel to build the customized app and buying the 8 iPads and credit card swipers, the whole shebang cost about $18,000.
And thanks to the iPad’s compatibility with Apple’s other products, De Santos’s owners now have more control over their restaurant than ever before. The owners—Gonella, Luis Miguel Amutio, and Alex Gonzalez—can all monitor the entire restaurant from anywhere in the world from an iPhone and receive real-time data about the restaurant’s performance. Every transaction is immediately tabulated and analyzed.
“I can be in L.A. and check—live—exactly how many orders are placed, how many credit cards were used, which ones were mistakes or not,” Gonella says. “You really have control over what’s happening in the dining room. If [servers] want to give a free drink for a friend, or they made a mistake and don’t want to tell the manager so they ring it again, that all costs our business. Now, we can eliminate that.”
A live case how iPad boosts productivity in food business

via The Birth of the iRestaurant |

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