Thank you, Mom! My mom took the family to Stacked in Torrance, CA yesterday. She'd liked the burgers, pizza, and salads there and knew the rest of us would love the iPads Stacked uses as their menu and ordering system. Each table has a free floating iPad with the custom Stacked app (we were offered a second iPad as we were a large group -- good idea or there would have been a fight). Hardcopy menus are also available, but the orders go in via the iPad. You can order one of their suggested combinations or create your own. You really need to create your own.... See this video of building a malt. Think of all the fun you could have building your own burger, pizza, or salad.
Paul Motenko, co-CEO and co-founder, stopped by our table and was happy to talk about the development of the iPad application and how the food itself is key to the experience. (No worries there - great pizza and burgers by our review.) He said the application took longer to get right than expected but that it was worth the wait. Even my brother, part-time application developer and full-time iPad strategist, was impressed.
The menu is intuitive, fun, and provides value over my usual dining experience. You know exactly how much your bill is going to be, can be specific about what you want on the side, can see how much you save by reducing a topping, and even control how you split the bill. Paul Motenko demonstrates in this video:
The Stacked experience is more than just about the iPads. I asked one of the "concierges" whether she'd worked at other restaurants and whether Stacked had fewer staff. She didn't think there were fewer staff (and she had worked at other restaurants) but she thought the process was smoother: No worries about hearing an order right and customers can easily ask for help by tapping on the iPad and having the request show up on the staff's service screen. She said that they are always there if a customer needs help with the iPad process. Generally, she said, she shows a couple of steps and then the customer wants to get involved.
Do I want this kind of approach at a fine dining establishment? Probably not, yet. But for a casual or fast food setting - absolutely. The power of the system is in the control it gives to the customer and the process it creates with the staff. Hoping Stacked gets to Northern California soon. What other organizational interactions could be enhanced by an app like this? Have you seen others at work in the wild?