Before the world of fast-food, dining out was an experience. There was a certain ceremonial element to treating oneself to a dinner out with friends and family in which you are the guest and every culinary need is catered to you. Times have changed and we’re now living in a fast-paced, fast-food (with better quality standards) world where not only is food expected to be delivered quickly, our dining experience is expected to be met with the least bit of resistance and the utmost convenience, whether we decide to dine in or out. As our technological age advances, so, too, does the restaurant and food service industry. With most activities in this digital world, we can now expect our meals enjoyed with friends or family with the comfort and convenience of our smartphones. Here are ten technological advances on dining in and dining out that serve to increase speed and convenience, and have shaped the way in which we think about food today.
1. Drone Delivery
Well, folks, it’s here. The day has officially come when we may never need to see another human again. Okay, maybe not exactly, but drone deliveries are now possible so that’s something. We’ve been hearing about drone advancements for a while now when it comes to Amazon delivering your Christmas gifts and the leap has now been made to food delivery. On July 11, 2016, 7-Eleven made the first commercial delivery by drone. The delivery consisted of a chicken sandwich, donuts, coffee, candy, and, of course, Slurpees. In September, Alphabet and Chipotle also launched a trial run of delivering food to students on the Virginia Tech campus. Though it may not be fully mainstream yet, it is happening and we can all get excited by it.
Feel like a VIP guest every time you dine out at a restaurant that uses NextME. When you do finally decide to go out to dinner or brunch with your crew, waiting in an hour long – and sometimes longer – line can really derail your afternoon or evening out. Well, no longer do you and your buddies have to stand in line waiting — literally. Not only is NextME the most efficient digital waitlist on the market, but it also doesn’t require you to download an app. Simply ask the host at a participating restaurant to ‘next me,’ and your phone number will be entered into the restaurant’s waitlist system. All you have to do is check your text messages to see your position in line, and be notified when it’s your turn. This process allows you to save storage space on your phone while skipping the lobby lock-up and going outside to enjoy the scenery while you wait for your table. NextME also lets you make some extra change by referring restaurants to the platform!
4. Ordering While You Game
In 2014 the release of the Domino’s app provided Xbox One users the convenience to order pizza directly from their device while gaming. For non-gamers, the news may have been inconsequential, however, within the first four months users had already ordered $1 million worth of pizza. So if you ever needed more motivation to keep gaming and avoid the outside world, here it is.
3. Table Side Electronic Ordering
Table side electronic ordering is seemingly popping up everywhere. With this method, you simply order your food from a tablet at your table. The idea is that it improves ordering accuracy and speed. Restaurants like Applebee’s and Johnny Rockets have already adopted this technology which not only allows their guests to order their food, but also allows them to see special offers and play games while they wait for their meal to arrive. Stacked has not only adopted this technology, it has taken it to the next level. Stacked is a full-service restaurant that uses electronic ordering to allow for easier customization of guests’ orders. Given a list of ingredients, customers have the ability to build their food for optimal dining pleasure.
8. A New Kind of Delivery
Now offering UberEATS, you can order food from your favorite local restaurant through the UberEATS app and have it delivered right to your door. The service is great for those restaurants that don’t offer delivery and for those times you just don’t want to leave the house. You can also explore the convenience of luxury delivery through apps like DoorDash, PostMates, Grubhub and Eat24. Most of these offer an introductory discount code so there is nothing to lose by trying them at least once. From there you can spread the love and share your coupon code with friends to keep the discounts coming!
9. Smartphone Payment Platforms
Your bellies are full and wallets are on the table. Now comes that awkward moment where it’s time to split the bill with friends. You hope that at least one person at the table can perform basic math, because it’s not you, and you hope you don’t get stuck with your friend’s portion of the tip. Smartphone apps like TabbedOut have eliminated those issues. With this app, you can pay or even split your restaurant or bar tab just by using your phone. TabbedOut eliminates the wait, the hassle, and the possibility of your friend forgetting their credit card at the end of the night. It’s both easy and safe so check it out, your waitstaff will thank you.
With most social networking sites, once the site becomes prolific in its usage, it is no longer simply a noun, it is a verb — a way of life if you. You would be hard pressed to find a millennial alive who doesn’t feel the need to Instagram every moment of their lives and morsel they put into their mouths. By curating every image with the appropriate filter, angle and proper lighting, the documentation of our lives through this medium has most certainly raised our expectations for the appearance of the things in our own lives, including food. Our meals begin with the clicks and snaps of photos and the discussions of the perfect description. It almost feels wrong to consume something without documenting it for the world to see. You could even argue that this has made us more diverse consumers, willing to experience new flavors and cuisines that we would never have had before our favorite Instagrammer put it on their feed.
Yelp has had an impact on the food and restaurant industry in a big way. The last time I personally heard about a professional food critic’s review bearing any weight in the public’s opinion of a restaurant was in Disney Pixar’s Ratatouille, and that was set in Paris — with a rat chef. With Yelp and other review sites, everybody is a critic. People now more than ever are relying on these reviews to dictate where they’ll be enjoying their next meal. So whether positive or negative, your opinion matters to every other diner out there.
7. Open Table
There are many of us who still prefer the security of making reservations at a restaurant prior to dining. Open Table has made this process a lot easier and more convenient with online reservations. With Open Table you are able to see a list of all available reservation times for better transparency, earn rewards points for each reservation you make, purchase gift cards and leave reviews. Open Table is truly the one stop shop for all of your dining out needs.
10. Guest Wifi
Restaurants that now offer guest wifi are a blessing for guests who are trying to limit their data usage, change up their office environment, or are looking for a place to enjoy a nice meal while still working hard on the grind. This is not only for the patrons’ benefit, restaurants love it too. Because of guest Wifi tables remain full during slower times of the day, and let’s face it, the longer you stay at your favorite spot you are probably more inclined to order a second beer, dessert, etc. For those still in school this is also a safe haven for those who can’t stand how quiet it is at the library, but at the same time can’t handle the distractions of their home.