According to the Wall Street Journal, restaurants are trying hard to appeal to families by way of making sure that children are entertained. To this end, many are starting to make the move to putting tablets and other similar devices on the table equipped with video games, movie trailers and news articles.
The problem of course is that these extras all come with fees of their own, meaning it just became more expensive to take your family out to eat –unless you want to be the parent that says no (and prepared to enjoy a tantrum from your child).
Other table top uses for the iPad and other tablets are also popping up, with virtual waiters, visual menus and automated payment capabilities all being put at the patron’s fingertips. There are mixed reviews on these functions of course, with many enjoying the experience of dining out in large part because of the human interaction. With that said, it sure would be nice if your waiter didn’t have to guess when you wanted a refill on your drink or keep bothering you while you are eating and talking if there is nothing required of them. Consider being able to just tap an icon on a tablet to let them know that you need ketchup or to advise that you are ready for the bill (or even just pull it up right there and split it or pay it, etc.).
For those who are more visual, pictures of actual menu items would sure be nice (or for parents like me who have cheese loving children as long as the cheese is ‘orange’… infuriating to order a grilled cheese for them only to discover later that they use white cheddar in that restaurant). For those with allergies, tablets would make it infinitely easier to list ingredients or identify potential reactions from the oils used or the other items prepared in the same kitchen. If you wanted to see even more detail, restaurants could provide approximations of the time it will take to deliver your meal (or with the right app, how much longer you may have to wait for the meals you just ordered).
The downside of course is that for many families, meals are the one time that everybody slows down long enough to spend some time talking to each other. I know in my house we created a “no iPhones, iPads or other toys at the table” rule, without which we would all be texting, web surfing and game playing all through dinner.
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