According to Melbourne hipster restaurateur Chris Lucas, the menu is going to iPad land.
Lucas, who operates the prestigious Pearl restaurant, in inner-city Richmond, is set to convert his restaurant to an all iPad operation with specially written interactive software that he claims will make it the first restaurant in Australia to employ Apple's red-hot tablet for both menus and wine lists.... and at $500.00 (US) that bread is going to cost you $20.00.
The platform, he says, will enable diners to "drill down" for information, depending on their level of interest.
"The thirst for knowledge from consumers these days is massive," says Lucas. "It doesn't matter whether it's ingredients, origins of produce or wine, and particularly Old World wine, this platform can provide as little, or as much, information as each customer wants. Okay, I can see the staff wine sommelier having ONE device... but each menu? Come on?
A North Sydney restaurant - Global Mundo Tapas - took the honour (crazy way of spelling honor) of being the first in Australia to use the tablet for menu browsing and direct ordering to the kitchen.
However, the Pearl model, which will provide a series of "drill-down tiers" from, for example, a wine with its price to tasting notes from the sommelier, to suggested food matches, recipes and on to vineyard and wine producer websites, is not about making waiters redundant, Lucas says.
"We don't want the consumer placing the order. There is still a very important role for service staff in a smart restaurant, but the graphics and functionality make this thing a very important resource. I think a lot of traditional restaurant situations can be very intimidating. This is a way to liberate the consumer." Uh, why not? You're buying $500.00 shinny televisions otherwise? At least trim the waitstaff. Remember when Roy Kroc figured that one out?
Lucas already has four iPads with a further 11 on the way, with the software launching on the dining room floor next month after five months and nearly $40,000 in development costs. Did I say $20.00 bread basket? Add a zero.
And, for diners who find the iPad menu and wine list a bridge too far, yes, there will be hard copies available. Which makes this entire exercise a waste of time -- but he gets free press from me... and that's worth it, how? Because I'm making fun of him and his douche bag iPads that don't even do anything more than 'drill down' the ingredient list? 40K for that? I'll bet with 40K he COULD have opened a second location... or improved the food. But you get a smeary shinny iPad at the nice restaurant.
I'll bet if I follow this up in a couple months, this guy is out of business.