The Changing Dynamic of the Restaurant Industry

The Internet, new technology, and Smartphone applications are changing the way restaurants market themselves to the new tech savvy consumer. One aspect, which I have already discusses in my previous blog was how consumers can write both positive and negative restaurant reviews via online websites. Customers have become hyper critical about food and spread their opinions openly on restaurant review websites such as Yelp, FourSquare, Google, and Urbanspoon.

In an interview with recent Culinary Institute of America graduate and prospective restaurant owner, Levi Austin, he described the changes that will and already have taken place in the food industry due to technology. The recent grad predicts both negative and positive impacts on the food and restaurant industry.

One difficulty Austin has currently witnessed is that “new technology in restaurants creates new trends and shifts in behavior patterns for guests making it more or less difficult for managers to prepare accurate forecasts.” But, he believes once managers can predict accurate trends depicting demands, restaurants can become profitable by utilizing this same technology that might be currently causing them trouble.

It is extremely interesting to witness how deeply technology has infiltrated into every field, industry and profession. Levi explains that even while obtaining a degree in food management he must still take classes that incorporate technology. In his technology in the hospitality industry course he learned about the Smartphone application deemed Snapfiner. This application allows users to not only view menus right on their phones, but provides the Smartphone user the option to order take out without ever having to talk to another human being. Levi sees the benefits in an application such as this one, “This can limit the amount of time people spend in the restaurant itself, especially if they’ve already seen the most up to date menu, including daily specials. This reduces the table turn-time, essentially making restaurant have a higher capacity on busier nights.” A future where a restaurant is physically empty, yet bustling with business is now an imaginable future.

Another benefit of Snapfiner might be that it increases clarity of take-out orders. I personally have worked for a Chinese restaurant where I have answered phones and took orders for three years. Over the span of those three years, I have definitely had my fair share of miss understandings, mixed up orders, and dropped calls. I think the invention of an app such as Snapfinger, with possibly the exclusion of taking away minimum wage jobs for 16-year-olds, is very beneficial.

Another change that Levi foresees taking place is that “restaurants may try to shift towards a take-out or quick service style establishment”, opposed to our sit down and relax dynamic we are used to now.

It is no surprise that technology has and will change the world as we know it. Hopefully with the increase in competition between restaurants it will motivate chefs and managers towards more modern and current food trends. Increased competition theoretically should create higher standards and service for restaurants, which make the restaurant more profitable, and guests more satisfies.


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