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Should chefs expect to start taking more orders from ‘digital waiters’?

Chester Grosvenor kitchen

An AI-powered digital waiter and menu service has launched in the UK market to help restaurants, cafes and bars to safely re-open their doors as lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted.

The w8r.ai service removes the need for physical menus and lets customers order food and drink directly to their table from their own phone, increasing staff and customer safety.

The service doesn’t require any downloads – customers simply use their phone camera to scan a QR code on their table. This launches a digital menu from which they can browse and tap to order.

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Each QR code is unique, allowing the table number to be identified and the order sent immediately to the kitchen or bar for service.

“It’s easier, faster and safer than the traditional ordering experience,” said W8r founder Craig Holt. “By removing physical menus and reducing the amount of physical staff-to-customer interaction, w8r helps keep customers and staff safe and increasing confidence in the re-opening initiative.”

Each venue’s digital menu is integrated with an AI-powered chatbot that can guide, give advice and even make food and drink recommendations.

Customers can also exchange messages with the restaurant staff or request someone to come over in person. “It puts the customer in control of their experience” added Mr Holt.

As well as existing ‘order at table’ venues, w8r expect strong demand for their service in pubs and bars and ‘order at counter’ food establishments, as they consider the complexities of socially distanced queues.

“Moving to table service, but without having to add the cost of a new team of staff to take orders, should enable these venues to continue to be both safe and financially viable”.

Restaurants can enhance their customers’ digital menu journey with dish specific reviews and provenance information, wine suggestions, video or notes from the chef and even the ability for customers to view the dish via augmented reality before ordering.

“Rather than a compromise to the traditional menu and waiter, a well-crafted digital experience has the potential to provide an even more immersive and engaging experience. Each venue can find their own balance between human and AI powered elements of the experience.”

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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