Signal your waiter... with a button

A café owner in the coastal city of Blankenberge has installed buttons on the tables that customers can press to call a waiter for an order or the check. This morning on the Radio 2 show 'The Inspector', Flemish catering industry representative Danny Van Assche said that we can expect more of these kinds of innovations in the foreseeable future.

"Certain tables at cafés and restaurants will soon be equipped with touch screens, on which you can just tap what you want to order. The request is then automatically sent to the kitchen", says Mr Van Assche. The only waiter you'll be seeing is the one who serves your food, because at the end of your dinner, you'll be able to pay by simply inserting your card into the system. This method is being used in the United States already, and will inevitably come our way soon.

In a few businesses, you can already use your smartphone to send messages to the counter over free WiFi. This way, your order will be processed more quickly. "In Japan there are even cafés where they use drones to do the waiting", says Van Assche, "but that seems rather dangerous, what with the chance of running into them."

The 'old' way of ordering won't be disappearing in the coming few years, though. And it will probably never be replaced entirely.

A waiter's priorities

How come that normal (human) waiters are sometimes slow or simply seem to ignore you? "Well, of course every customer is important, but in the process of waiting not every moment is as important", Danny Van Assche says about this instantly recognisable phenomenon.

"The little bell in the kitchen gets absolute priority, because it means there's a hot plate ready to be served. The second most important moment is when new customers arrive. They have to be seated and be given menus. If you're trying to catch a waiter’s eye at one of these times, you're going to have to wait a few minutes. We always tell our waiters to show the customer that they saw the signal."

Luckily, the good weather has been forecast on time this week. So businesses have had plenty of time to prepare for the coming storm of customers, especially at the coast.

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