German Restaurant Ditches Waiters, Sends Food To Diners On Metal Slide Rails

from the do-you-tip-the-rails? dept

We've definitely seen restaurants embrace technology and automation to bizarre ends before, but apparently a new restaurant in Germany is taking that to extremes. The Nuremberg-based 's Blaggers has completely replaced waiters with an automated system (via The Raw Feed). While there have certainly been fast food restaurants that have let patrons order themselves, in this case, it's a sit-down restaurant. Diners order their meals via a touchscreen, which is relayed to the kitchen which (and this turns out to be important) is upstairs from the dining area. Then, using a special hotpot that connects to a bunch of spiral steel rails your food is delivered by gravity power. The touchscreen actually keeps you up to date, as well, telling you how long it'll be until your food is delivered. The terminals also accept payment. Of course, the article doesn't explain how the cleanup process works... Perhaps diners can send the finished dishes down to a dishwasher in the basement? The guy behind it is hoping to license the offering to other restaurants (including McDonald's), but from the early reviews of his own restaurant, it sounds like people have been coming for the novelty, but some are a bit turned off by the mechanical nature of everything (and one person even compared it to the machinery used to feed pigs on large farms).


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Ben, Aug 28th, 2007 @ 10:00pm

    And if your food is too rare, etc.

    ...what do you do? Shove it back up the rails to the kitchen?

    How will a computer know when to ask "Is everything OK?" when you have a mouthful? Anyone else leery of ordering gravity-fed soup?

    No worries on calculating a tip, either.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 12:17am

      Re: And if your food is too rare, etc.

      If their target audience is that of the McDonalds type, then "How will a computer know when to ask "Is everything OK?"" is not anything to be concerned of.

      The restraint also says it tends to replace waiters, but that says nothing for replacement of the busboys - which solves the clean-up issues.

      If you click through to the links, you will find a couple of photos for the contraption.

      Paying by CC or CASH shouldn't be a problem - heck, the automated check-outs at HomeDepo work mostly just fine... they even speak in two languages, English and Spanish!

      But this leaves one to wonder what should happen if the computer at a table malfunctions or refuses to accept cash or give change - do they just close down the whole table with a sign saying "out of order"?

       

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    dorpus, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 1:02am

    Serves their needs

    Germans are offended by non-German customers, so this way they will not have to talk to them.

     

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      Cixelsid, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 3:51am

      Re: Serves their needs

      And thats the honest to God truth.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 4:38am

      Re: Serves their needs

      Why don't they just show up to the resteraunt early and put towels on all the seats then.

      And yeah, Yo! Sushi (and probably some other sushi places that I haven't been to) use a little conveyor belt to bring your food to you. Although they do use waiters. But CONVEYOR BELT! It's the only reason I started eating sushi. The serving is awesome.

      Also, in the fourth picture for the article, isn't that girl a little young to have a credit card?

       

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    Dr. A, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 3:45am

    and the news is ?

    I guess some people never went to a Japanese 100 Yen sushi restaurant. In this type of popular restaurant the food always comes by mechanical means and ordering system is plain intercom.

     

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    Overcast, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 6:40am

    Sounds so charming.

    Heck, I have an idea!! Take it to the next level - just make your own food too!!

     

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    Tom, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 6:40am

    How can he patent something in a movie

    OK, since Techdirt so often touts ideas as being obvious and/or there is already prior art, I'm wondering why no one has mentioned that this concept is already displayed in a movie. And a very old movie at that. Can he really get a patent on an idea that is OBVIOUSLY portrayed in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? It's early in the movie in the breakfast scene.

     

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    Improbus, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 6:43am

    Nothing New

    I live in Kansas City, Missouri, and there is a restaurant (independent burger joint) in Kansas City, Kansas, that delivers your meal to your table on a miniature train. Here is a story about it: Fritz's Restaurant.

     

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    Dan Skaggs, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 7:04am

    How about water power?

    I ate a a place in San Jose a few years back called "Sushi Boat". They had a trough of water running around the bar with small boats carrying different colored plates of sushi (each plate was maybe 2" x 3"). When you saw something you wanted, you just grabbed it. At the end of the meal, you called the staff over, they counted the number of each color plate you had and totaled your bill from that. Great sushi too!

     

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    Joel Coehoorn, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 7:27am

    As to the clean up issues- at many restaurants the 'bussers' that clean up your table are separate (lower paid) job from the waiters. I'd be much more concerned with things like drink refills.

     

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    JoeUser, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 7:56am

    waiters paid less

    Waiters make that stupid $2.25 and hour plus tips. It is legal to make them slave labor. Table cleaners make minimum wage... Remember people, leave a tip if the service was good. They need it!

     

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    Jesse McNelis, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 8:12am

    Questions?

    What if I have a question about what I'm ordering?
    can I get extra cheese with that?
    which is a best desert, I'm allegic to dairy?
    etc.

    Especially in the service industry a human beings ability to adapt to changing situations makes them much more capable than a computer.

     

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      Jeanne Goodwin, Aug 30th, 2007 @ 9:24am

      Re: Questions?

      People who start giving special orders are a pain in the butt. Don't go to the restaurant if you don't like the way they offer the food. If you are allergic to milk, don't order it. Honestly. Stay home.

       

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        Jak, May 1st, 2008 @ 9:16am

        Re: Jeanne the Waiter-Hater

        There are plenty of establishments that offer indifferent, efficient service. They are either 1) Fast food restaurants or 2) 5 Star restaurants.
        Take your pick. The entire middle-class of restaurants caters to the middle-class of customer, and the majority of them enjoy "personal" and "friendly" interactive service.
        It is part of the job of your wait-staff to offer this. Believe me, they don't want to be friends with you, either (particularly, YOU, Jeanne). If you don't like it, choose a different restaurant, or more pleasantly, stay at home and make your own d**n food.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 9:04am

    A local pizza place has been delivering food via large model train for almost 30 years...

     

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    Chris Brand, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 9:23am

    Like pig farms ?

    >one person even compared it to the machinery used to feed pigs on large farms

    Only on the very best farms do the pigs get to choose what they want to eat.

     

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    identicon
    Mike Brown, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 10:50am

    Toy Train food delivery...

    > ... there is a restaurant (independent burger joint) in
    > Kansas City, Kansas, that delivers your meal to your table
    > on a miniature train.

    When I was growing up in New Rochelle, NY, in the mid-50's there was a little storefront diner called "Hamburger Depot" that did that. As a kid, I loved to go there just to watch the wrecks when the kitchen sent the train around the counter too fast.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 11:36am

    A local pizza place has been delivering food via large model train for almost 30 years

    WTF do customers do if they don't have train tracks near them? Doesn't that kind of screw up their yards?

     

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    Jason, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 2:36pm

    Sushi via boat/conveyer: pretty widespread.

    Nope, not a new idea, but I do like the twist of ordering via terminal.

    Here's a Yelp topic on the issue of sushi delivered via boat. Coincidentally, I went to Isobune in Oakland today. The novelty would probably wear off after a while, but it was fun.

     

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    TNP, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 7:33pm

    Oblig Futurama

    "Hey, you've hardly touched your amoeba.", said Bender, grabbing two martinis off the conveyor belt.

     

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    Davd, Aug 29th, 2007 @ 11:10pm

    Funny anecdote

     

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    Jeanne Goodwin, Aug 30th, 2007 @ 9:22am

    German waiter alternative

    This is the greatest! There is nothing more disgusting that a wait-person kneeling at your table and saying,"Hi, my name is Mertle and I will be your server tonight." I want to shove the napkin, if there actually is one, in her maw. When I go to a restaurant, I don't want to be friends with the server. I want the food NOW, in silence and promptley. Period. Hope this restaurant innovation comes to the USA.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 4th, 2007 @ 9:20am

    u suck

     

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    Katie, Mar 7th, 2008 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Questions?

    > People who start giving special orders are a pain in the
    > butt. Don't go to the restaurant if you don't like the way
    > they offer the food. If you are allergic to milk, don't
    > order it. Honestly. Stay home.

    Wow, that's rather insensitive and extreme. So nobody should eat at restaurants if they have food allergies? Awesome. Are you the Soup Nazi by any chance?

    Special orders are no big deal, for one thing. You could easily add a simple feature to ask a question or add special instructions to an order, something on the level of

    1. hold down a button
    2. ask question
    3. release button
    4. wait for response from someone

    They could have one person back in the kitchen answering all these questions and offer uniformity and certainty. I don't know how many times I've heard a wait(er|ress) say "I'm not sure, let me go ask."

    Alternatively, if they aren't automating meal delivery, they could simply have a button you can smack to get a waiter over to your table if you don't want to play ball.

    I work in IVR (interactive voice response -- the technology behind the automated voice you talk to before your bank lets you talk to a customer service rep) and despite the perceived annoyance, it enables companies to service many more customers with fewer representatives, allowing them to pass the savings onto their consumers, and lower prices mean the customers are happy and the company will do better business.

    Anyway, the latter solution would be similar to the current state of the IVR industry. If you have a problem the automated system can't handle, you just ask to talk to a person. Likewise, if you need to ask about the contents of a particularly frightening secret sauce, you could just tap an icon and get a wait(er|ress).

    Besides, I for one would LOVE to be able to order without having to tell our server "we're still deciding" twice and then sitting around waiting for them to come back (the wait is longer with each "we don't know yet", it seems) so we can finally order. The least they could do is have a button to page a server, like the flight attendant page buttons on airplanes.

    Incremental ordering would also be great. Instead of having to ask for everything in one go and hope you don't forget anything, you could just decide to tap that "chocolate shake" button at any point. That might be an unbearable temptation for dieters, but I'm sure the restaurants will LOVE that. ^^

     

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    hari, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 4:38am

    to start in india

     

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    identicon
    hari, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 4:39am

    to start in india

    hi ! this is hari ,living in india ,this automae reaturant is amazing ,i to have an idea to start in india

     

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    identicon
    Dumbwaiter, Nov 4th, 2008 @ 9:54am

    Well said Jak, if you don't like a restaurant don't go back. A general rule of thumb is that if you go out to eat and often end up having management pay for your meal because of a 'mistake,' it is time to start looking inward.

     

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    mickey mouse, Sep 17th, 2012 @ 11:19am

    park attraction

    So Folks, I can tell you that it is only a park attraction by the german "Europapark". In this restaurant "food loop" inside the park meals arrived in closed cups like rollercoasters. Meals ordered by touchscreen on table and send from kitchen in the upper station. Video on youtube under - food loop restaurant.

    In the resort of England, Attration Nr.483
    http://resort.europapark.de/mb7326/Parkplan_Europa_Park2012.pdf

     

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