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Restaurant Replaces Paper-Based Menus with iPads

Will electronic media eventually eradicate paper products? The transition is eventual, however one restaurant in Australia is taking the digital step early by ditching its paper-based menus and wine lists. Instead, it will offer customers an iPad running a special application designed to not only list the establishment's menu, but apparently their ingredients. and other useful information.

"The thirst for knowledge from consumers these days is massive," said Chris Lucas, owner of the Pearl restaurant located in inner-city Richmond. "It doesn't matter whether it's ingredients, origins of produce or wine, and particularly Old World wine, this platform can provide as little, or as much, information as each customer wants. This is not a gimmick. I really reckon this is going to set a precedent."

Lucas provided an example, explaining that the app would list wines and their prices. However the information on a particular brand and year could be expanded to offer tasting notes, suggested food matches, popular recipes associated with the wine, and even links to the actual vineyard and wine producer.

Lucas assured that the new iPad-based menu is not about making waiters redundant--they still serve an important role. "We don't want the consumer placing the order," he said. "There is still a very important role for service staff in a smart restaurant, but the graphics and functionality make this thing a very important resource. I think a lot of traditional restaurant situations can be very intimidating. This is a way to liberate the consumer."

Application development took five months and nearly $40,000 out of his pocket. Currently he has four iPad devices already in use--an additional eleven units are on the way. Lucas added that he'll keep several copies of the paper-based versions on-hand for now for old-school customers who'd rather not use the digital tablet.