M Burger in Chicago has a practical use for the iPad internally to reduce paper in their small 400-square-foot restaurant. Corporate chef Tim Hockett said,
"We're trying to get rid of all the clipboards and paper trails back there [in the kitchen]. We don't have the space for it."
Of course, the iPad is not just for use by operational use by the restaurant employees. Naples Tomato in Naples, Florida, is working on an iPad wine list called Personal Sommeliers for iPad. Guests within the Meditterranean restaurant will be able to browse, search, and select wines. In addition, Naples Tomato will use the Apple iPad app as an educational tool to improve their staff's wine knowledge.
At Pandini's in Germantown, Maryland, customers can present photo IDs and check out iPads for use while in the restaurant. Michael Hollen, VP of operations, is testing a program that would use the iPad to attract new diners and to build loyalty among their existing customers. He says,
"The iPad is the hottest piece of technology in 2010, so it's a great perk for our guests. Many of our guests come in and bring their computers or have newspapers. Now, if they are clamoring to try the iPad, they can take one for a spin for free."
Since an iPad really isn't much bigger than the black credit card holders the wait staff carries around already, it could easily be used as a mobile restaurant ordering system. In fact, orderTalk has already released an app to let customers order their own food on an iPad, iPhone, or iTouch.
orderTalk's CEO Patrick Eldon says:
“This application is perfect for restaurants that want a ‘line buster’ approach so customers can order in line and then have their order ready when they get to the counter. It also works in casual dining, allowing guests to order and pay directly at their table from their personal or restaurant supplied devices.”
Mobile computers with easy access to a global network will continue to transform the way we work, live, and play. This is not just some fancy technology suited for a small group of innovators. Everybody will have one (or more).
If you don't have an iPad yet, be sure to put it on your wish list so that, some day, you can have interesting stories to tell your grandchildren about the kind of apps you had back at the beginning of the century.