Tablet computer modified for table service

Jan. 14, 2012 at 12:24 PM
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PALO ALTO, Calif., Jan. 14 (UPI) -- A Palo Alto, Calif., company created a tablet computer for restaurants that allows customers to order meals without a waiter.

The Presto tablet, a computer smaller than an iPad and larger than a smart phone, created by E la Carte, takes orders, predicts when diners' food will arrive at their table, acts as a personal sommelier, provides self-checkout, splits checks, and calculates the tip, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday.

"It's the future," said Charlie Ayers, owner of Calafia, a Palo Alto restaurant that has adopted the Presto tablet. "People say it's very inhospitable. But it's the epitome of hospitality. It empowers the guest to get in and to get out."

Presto creator Rajat Suri predicted that soon every mass-market, midrange restaurant and bar will start using his tablet. E la Carte leases the tablets to restaurants and bars for as little as 50 cents per Presto per day. The tablets are completely programmable so chefs can change their menus regularly, offer daily specials and update photos of food and drinks.

E la Carte research shows the Presto can cut a restaurant's labor costs by 26 percent, increase sales by up to 10 percent per check, and reduce how long diners linger at the table by seven minutes.

Calafia owner Ayers said he's not ready to completely cut out his wait staff.

"I would have to completely change my operation," Ayers said. "And since I don't want to become a food-runner type place, I'm not changing."

"We're not totally replacing human interaction," said Suri, the inventor. "This doesn't prevent you from talking to a server. But now you have two options."

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