So If the Menu's an iPad...

If you saw the 1999 film Office Space, you’ll recall Jennifer Aniston's horror at having to wear “flair” at her nightmarish restaurant job. The colorful buttons, the smiley faces, and the knickknacks that decorated her uniform projected a faux enthusiasm that became one of the film’s many cultural touchstones. 

Well, “flair” may be a thing of the past, but will menus, and even servers, soon become relics, too? 

On Monday, USA Today reported that a Sydney, Australia-based restaurant called Global Mundo Tapas replaced its menus with iPads, bypassing the need for human servers to take orders and relay them to the kitchen.

Then just yesterday, a New York Times article pointed to a burgeoning number of Manhattan restaurants that have done away with not only the reservationist, but the whole notion of reservations altogether. Those who want to eat at these joints should wear comfortable shoes, prepare to wait, cozying up at the bar. Patience, remember, is a virtue.

Whether the iPad as menu/waiter and the take-a-number/ no-reservations ethos spreads beyond a few discrete restaurants remains to be seen. And whether these changes make the overall restaurant experience more or less pleasant is anyone’s guess.

My prediction? Flair will take a new form, and bright yellow, smiley-faced emoticons will dance all over the digital menus of the future.

Do you like the idea of restaurants using electronic menus and doing away with servers? Chime in below!

Like this? Read these!
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Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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