When you go to De Santos, a high-end Italian restaurant in New York City's West Village, don't expect to be handed a regular menu. Instead, your waiter will bring you an iPad 2 on which you can select your meal. Inc.com reported on this innovative restaurant that is using iPad 2s, a custom app, and the Square card reader to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.
As of August 1st, De Santos -- located in a building that was once home to such music and literary geniuses as Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and Edward Albee -- became the first restaurant in the Big Apple to be run completely on iPads. Not only can you order your food and drink on the iPad, but at the end of the meal you'll swipe your credit card on the device to settle your tab (De Santos uses Square to accept your charges).
You might think that US$500 menus are ridiculously expensive, but the owners say that the system will save money by streamlining food ordering. The iPads send orders directly to the kitchen over Wi-Fi, and customers can see the full "specs" of every dish on the menu. The system uses a custom point of sale system created for the 8 iPads in the restaurant, and the development and installation costs were about $18,000. That compares very favorably to traditional restaurant point of sale systems that normally cost a minimum of about $30,000 to install.
Since every transaction is entered into the system in real time, the owners of De Santos can monitor the restaurant remotely from an iPhone to view data about how sales are going. They can see how many orders are placed for what items, how many credit cards are used, and more. Co-owner Sebastian Gonella says that "You really have control over what happens in the dining room," which reduces costs for the restaurant.
The key feature might be the iPads themselves. Sebastian Gonella noted that "The customers love it. Who doesn't like an iPad? They go nuts." Once word gets out about how well the iPad-based system is working, we're sure to see more restaurants adopt the devices.