• Digital menu and marketing boards designed around the one-to-many presentation principle will be replaced in some quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, or augmented in others, by systems that customize food images, information and incentives based on consumers’ preferences, Burrus said. These unique messages will be streamed to the smartphone screens of anyone who, on entering the establishment, downloads its proprietary mobile app.
• “Interactive feedback from guests to the restaurant in real time is going to be extremely productive in the future, [and] not just via social media engines and online surveys, but [through] direct access to floor management and kitchen management [using] guests’ personal mobile devices,” said Crawford of My Fit Foods. “It is the futuristic way of [managers] ‘touching tables.’”
• Greater adoption of handheld technology for inventories, temperature measurements and other functions will mark restaurant back-of-the-house operations, where paper will be eliminated from the hiring process, predicted Eric Rosenzweig, chief information officer for Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation parent Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. in San Diego.
Hard Rock’s Tenczar said he envisions 2020 back-of-the-house systems as being more focused on energy management and better able to capture and use all manner of restaurant data, including check and seating information.
• Order preparation management systems for the kitchen — with count-down timers, plate assembly images and component-firing instructions — will be more sophisticated and, with headset communications devices linking the order expediter with the cooking line and waitstaff, will prove critical for food-quality control.
“I believe this [expediter] position is now — with the tech in place — the most important position,” said Brian Sill, president of Deterministics Inc. in Bellevue, Wash. “It is the pivot post of quality control and timing of all orders at the point where the whole of everyone’s efforts is most vulnerable and can make or break the business.”
• “Wireless [networking] will be ubiquitous” and “in-store training will be done with low-cost tablets,” Garden Fresh’s Rosenzweig said. “I think you’ll see switch back from a lot of cloud offerings to more on-premise [systems] due to the total cost of ownership of technology in the cloud.”
• “We will see, because the price will be low enough, that not all, but many restaurants will make the entire tabletop a touch-screen [device],” Burrus said. “So if little kids want to draw, they can have all the colors and all the drawings right there because all they will have to do is mark out a little square where they are sitting. I could see the meals [offered] and, in some cases, I could do ordering right from there, if I wanted to.”