Palo Alto Start-Up’s Restaurant Tablet Puts Ordering In Customer’s Hands

PALO ALTO (KCBS) – The tablet computers that have shown up on a handful of restaurant tables around the country could be the answer for anyone who’s ever waited too long for the check, or argued with a waiter over whether the order was to hold the mayo.

The touch screen of the Presto, developed by Palo Alto-based start-up E La Carte, lets customers place orders, browse nutrition information, and divvy up the damage after the plates are cleared, said founder Rajat Suri.

“It gives you more control of the experience,” he said, and frees up the server to make sure the water glass stays full.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

The streamlined dining experience has translated to more sales for some of E La Carte’s clients, Suri said, perhaps because tables turn over faster or because the menu is directly in the customer’s hands.

So far 20 casual dining restaurants, some just above McDonald’s and others just below white table cloth French restaurants, now use a device. It has virtually no learning curve thanks to the ubiquity of the touch screen, Suri said.

“It’s like when you go to the airport, you just check in on one of those kiosks. It’s very simple,” he said.

Suri stopped studying mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to start a company that’s received more than $1 million of venture capital funding.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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