The first thing I do at a restaurant that utilizes tablets for game-playing or to pay for the meal is put it on the edge of the table, screen facing away.
I have an irrational hatred of these devices. And for the most part, the restaurants that use them don’t make it mandatory and I can choose to order and pay through my server. But every once in a while I’ll be forced to pay through the tablet.
It’s supposed to be convenient, and I can’t argue that it’s not, but why do I still hate having to deal with it?
Technology has allowed for a lot of good in this world, but I wish it didn’t infiltrate every aspect of my life.
When it comes to dining out, there’s a fine line. As diners we expect everything to be smooth and easy. On the flip side, the team running a restaurant is looking for new ways to make the dining experience better.
The answer is usually better technology.
Tablets are in today, but what’s in store for tomorrow?
An upcoming local restaurant, Millie’s at 3542 Oak Forest Dr., might be the first in the neighborhood to take that step forward into a more tech-minded dining experience.
Chris Jones, co-owner of Millie’s, reached out to the community on Facebook asked how they would feel if the restaurant opened without a point of sale and instead used an app called Roovy, which was developed by his partner in the business, Ken Bridge.
The app would act as a server in a way. You would have to download the app and enter your credit card information. From there you would order your food, a person would bring it out, but then you would check out through the app.
The response from the neighborhood was a mostly a resounding “no thanks,” with a few people loving the idea and others having a positive experience with the app.
The concerns about the app included it being impersonal, worries about allergies, not wanting to have to use their phone or download an app and alienating people who aren’t tech-savvy or don’t have a smartphone.
“I wouldn’t download an app so I could go to a restaurant. I don’t have anything on my phone connected to payments,” Angela Sayegh wrote. “Also I find the concept of doing everything through an app annoying and impersonal. How do you bring people together if you don’t even talk with the people who work there?”
One of my favorite things to do at a restaurant when trying to decide what to order is ask the server their opinion or what they think the most popular item is. The lack of interaction with people who work at the restaurant is key. But some people worry about having to use their phones at all.
One commenter mentioned that millennials would love it, but boomers wouldn’t. While I don’t completely disagree because I can see a lot of people around my age range (mid-20s) loving it, I still think there’s a movement in our generation to put down the phone — especially while dining out.
Sara Johnson, an Oak Forest resident who is in her early 30s, told me she’s constantly on the computer at work and has to constantly check her phone throughout the day.
“Unless I’m expecting a call, I try to leave my phone in the car when I’m out eating,” Johnson said. “I can’t help but check it, even for just the time, when I have it on me. I wouldn’t really be opposed to use it, if I had to at just one restaurant, but I wouldn’t love it either.”
Another commenter on Jones’ post talked about how no one in her family is allowed phones at dinner, including her 16- and 11-year-old kids.
“One of the most common compliments I get is how my children interact with each other and how they engage with others,” Darcey Baron wrote. “Perhaps the history made could be to re-establish the neighborly vibe.”
The history being made is a reference to what Jones said about the app and how if Millie’s was to open with Roovy, it would be the first restaurant in the area to do so.
Whether Millie’s opens with the app or not, I hope they are successful. I would even still stop by if the app was implemented.
I’m less worried about being tempted by my phone in my pocket, or having to enter my credit card number, then the use of technology not being a choice when simply wanting a good meal out.
I wouldn’t be surprised if many restaurants to use a similar model in the future and people love it.
Sometimes, though, I think it would be nice if tech didn’t have a part in all we did.