The awkward business of trying to catch the waiter’s eye when you want to pay at a restaurant could soon become a thing of the past.
Restaurants and bars are moving into the era of smartphone technology where customers can tap in their choice of food and drink, then sit back and wait for it to appear – and pay using the same method.
QikServe, set up 18 months ago and based in Roslin, has won a contract which will see its smartphone self-service ordering system rolled out by a major pub chain for the first time.
It is the brainchild of Dan Rodgers, who got the idea after receiving shocking service in some eateries.
Now he is hoping he is on to the next big thing after UK-wide bar chain TCG bought in to his digital dining experience.
TCG has just launched Dan’s system at its flaghip Henry’s Café Bar in London’s Covent Garden this week.
And, with plans to extend it to all 69 of its venues, including Finnegan’s Wake and Jekyll & Hyde in Edinburgh, by the end of the year, the future is looking very rosy for this business success story.
Management consultant Dan, 41, said: “I got frustrated with hospitality service. I kept looking at my phone and thinking there must be a way this thing can help me. I decided I would try and set it up myself. I got a few people involved, we managed to secure some investment and it took off.
“This means you don’t have to get up and go to the bar and miss out on the conversation at your table while you queue for drinks.
“And no-one is doing away with waiting staff. They are really important in creating the ambience in a venue.”
Customers arriving at a bar or restaurant download the QikServe app on their phone or scan a QR code on the table, which brings up the right menu for that time of day.
They choose what they want and their order is transmitted to the kitchen or bar staff, who deliver the food and drink to the hungry diners. Customers also pay by phone, using PayPal or their card.
Since last year, fans at Hearts’ Tynecastle ground have been able to order their half-time pie and Bovril from their seats using technology from the same company.
A tasty idea?
By Professor Bill Buchanan, Edinburgh Napier University school of computing
THIS sounds a great idea and something lots of people will want to use.
Some people might prefer to switch off the internet and withdraw from technological advance, but it’s not going to happen.
There are different ways of doing things – some people like the traditional ways, but others are perfectly comfortable using the mobile phone to run their lives, using it to access all sorts of things.
And for children coming out of school it’s just the natural thing. They want to engage through devices.
This will save people having to queue at bars and so on. And the phone app could be extended so you could find out calorie contents, how the food is cooked – perhaps even a video of your chosen dish being prepared.
By Alison Craig, restaurateur and Evening News columnist
PART of the whole eating out experience is the service.
The most important thing a restaurant can offer is great service.
This system would have a far higher margin of error, like getting the wrong dish of the day.
The world has got so technologically advanced that you can go days without speaking to a human being. People like people – a warm, smiling person who is enthusiastic about the food is a key part of a visit to a restaurant.
It would mean the end of tipping because who would you tip? The computer programmer? You wouldn’t get any relationship going with the staff.
What if you were just in Edinburgh for a few days and you wanted to ask about places to go?
It would be a sterile atmosphere, like something out of a science fiction film.