Food and Drink International - Winter 2016 Volume 1 - 96

r

RESTAURANTS

Getting Acquainted

to be the grill. Otherwise, it's all
pretty much a fast-casual set-up.

>> Adding intuitive technology to enhance diners' experiences is more of a benefi to restaurants than having a large box on the
table where patrons can pay or play trivia.

we don't want to stop what we're
doing to figure it out, like it's a written test in a dream where you're
back at school and didn't study for
the finals.
Frankly, that's how it feels the
first time you encounter Which
Wich?'s set-up. There's too much
pressure to learn their system -
rather than just telling a Subway
"sandwich artist" what I want on
my sandwich, I have to sit down
and write it. Often I've seen a manager out front helping new customers work through the unusual
process where the customer has to
stop talking to their friend, locate
a sack and mark preferences by
looking up at menu boards mounted high on the wall.
Meanwhile, newbie has to battle the stress that accompanies the
tick-tick-tick of the decision-clock

96

(while new arrivals work faster
and jump ahead in line). This situation requires a different set of skills
than just speaking up and saying an
order - in this set-up, continuing to
have a conversation is hopeless.
3. Small Changes are Often Enough
A tweak to the familiar is frequently the best way to take what's
known and make it new.
Blaze Pizza basically asks you
to top your pizza the way Subway
or Quiznos or other sub shops ask
you to build your sub: You move
down the line, adding as you go
or augmenting existing recipes.
B.D.'s Mongolian Grill moves you
one easy step from the familiar, but
they do it twice - first they take the
fast-casual concept and ask you
to fill your bowl on the way to the
counter; then the counter turns out

food & drink international * winter 2016 volume 1 * www.fooddrink-magazine.com

4. Technology is Only the Answer if
It's Invisible and Intuitive
You know what's at a premium?
Patience. Authentic social interactions. Table space. Beware technology that gets in the way of those
literally or figuratively, or stops the
flow and demands to be learned.
Ever-more-common electronic
play-trivia/watch-ads-for-appetizers/pay-at-the-table devices at Applebee's or Olive Garden are basically hunks of metal sitting where
plates and salt shakers should go.
Pizza Hut's idea for a graphic interface under the table surface where
you can point-and-drag pizza toppings like a toddler with an iPad
just added unnecessary complexity
to the pizza-parlor schema.
On the other hand, intuitive technology that doesn't add time and
equipment - such as Starbucks'
payment app, or the "Square" attachment to smartphones and tablets that allows you to swipe plastic at a food truck - is technology
solving real problems simply.
Every time you visit a restaurant
- where, of course, as a restaurant marketer you're in "covert
reconnaissance" mode checking
the competition - you're basically
taking your brain to dinner. Notice
what you notice, and think about
what you can change to distinguish
your brand. Just as long as it's a
simple tweak to the ol' schema.

Charlie Hopper is a principal at Young
& Laramore. He is the author of the blog
SellingEating.com, and the book "Selling
Eating: Restaurant Marketing Beyond
the Word Delicious." Hopper may be
reached at chopper@yandl.com.


http://www.fooddrink-magazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food and Drink International - Winter 2016 Volume 1

Contents
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