As we have already mentioned, restaurants are evolving towards more innovative and technological solutions. Particularly in the last months, we have heard more and more talk about “the restaurants of the future“, referring to places that are experimenting with new technologies to enrich the customer experience in a restaurant or to encourage visits, countering the widespread food delivery trend, now well-entrenched everywhere.
It is located in Ibiza, and is the result of a collaboration of architects, engineers, and designers as well as cooks. The experience Sublimotion offers is unique, exciting, and involves all the senses through innovative and current technologies such as augmented reality. The dining room has a single large table for 12 people. Diners each receive a pair of glasses that will allow them to experience augmented reality, encouraging them to interact with different elements. During the dinner, prepared exclusively by the chefs, diners can remove the glasses; the white walls will become animated and change settings and scenarios to transport diners to different places and situations, with the theme of a particular event or the dishes.
Interactive and entertainment tables
Another example of the application of new technologies within restaurants is the London restaurant, Inamo, offering diners true digital entertainment. The tables consist of touch screens through which diners can play memory games or draw while waiting for their food. They can also choose and customize the tablecloth! Along with the interactive tables, tablets are also provided to watch the order preparation live, surf the internet, go to social networks, share content, and review the dishes tasted.
No more waiters and cashiers
Two years ago in San Francisco, Eatsa was born; this is a restaurant chain without waiters or cashiers, which expanded rapidly last year, followed by Data Kitchen, which opened recently in Berlin. From the technological point of view, the experience Eatsa offers is definitely amazing. Eatsa is a stylish place where the menu is chosen by tablet and paid by credit card. The diner waits for the order in front of a screen made up of a series of cubes: each cube corresponds to the order of a customer who will recognize it because his or her own name is written there. When the cube turns black, it means that the dish is in the works; when you see the word “It’s coming,” it means that it’s ready and you can pick it up, opening the cube by knocking. Eatsa technology is highly intuitive and efficient because it allows you to order before your arrival at the restaurant through an app that stores your customer preferences and orders or gives suggestions starting the second visit. It also allows handling and serving 300-400 customers per hour: a quick system (each order is taken of between 90 seconds and three minutes), customer-centric and offering in real time feedback thanks to the purchase history.
While, on one hand, this technology offers many advantages, on the other, at Eatsa, the human relationship is totally eliminated. Perhaps that is why the chain has received a great deal of criticism and in recent months, five out of seven sites have been closed. They are actually rather impersonal places, alienating customers, aseptic. For many people, looking for conviviality, sharing and interaction at meal time, not only between the diners but also with the waiters and in some cases even with chefs, the Eatsa restaurants can be experienced in a negative way from the experiential point of view, as they may generate feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The objective is not the elimination of the social chain, but rather to democratize access to nutritious food; that is, to make otherwise expensive dishes accessible to all. Eatsa indeed offers a wide range of customizable vegan, vegetarian, organic and healthful, high-quality menus, as there are no personnel costs, sold at seven dollars a bowl. Probably, introducing a new technology in a sector that is particularly resistant to innovation and, at the same time, an offer that is based on a single type of healthy food, is hard to manage together. But other restaurants’ interest in the Eatsa platform is evident, because it is seen as a valuable tool to improve and speed up some operations.
Automating processes in restaurants is definitely considered a positive development, but when machines fully replace humans, invading the sphere of relationships and interactions, it is time to take a step back and try to offer the customer an experience that is technological but also still human. Also in the “background”, in the kitchen, machinery is an essential tool; it is even more so when, instead of completely replacing humans, it supports them. Krupps dishwashers, for example, communicate directly with the technicians, leaving the restaurant staff free to work. On one hand, it leaves room for human agency; on the other, with the dishwasher interfacing with the technician, this reduces downtime, ensuring excellent washing results while saving time and money for the restaurant staff.