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It’s about damn time someone had a stroke of brilliance and found a way to get rid of wait staff at restaurants. Sort of.
It’s intensely frustrating to go to a busy, popular restaurant and find yourself waiting forever to order your food. And then you have to wait to pay…and if you pay with card, you have to wait even longer. And if you’re a server, you’re getting assholes who are all, “where’s mah food?!” (I once went to this cheapo little burger chain where a guy kept demanding his server’s attention by yelling really loudly, “WAITRESS!”)
Waiting is dumb, which is why E La Carte launched Presto—its consumer-facing tablet-ordering service for restaurants—in 2011. Restaurants who join the platform can leave Presto tablets on each table so that customers can come in, browse the menu, order, and pay at their leisure right from the tablet. E La Carte announced Monday that it has raised $13.5 million in a Series B round of funding led by Intel Capital, with help from Romulus Capital and other investors.
E La Carte has raised $17.5 million to date.
The company says that Presto now has “several thousand” tablets in restaurants throughout the country, including national chain partners like Genghis Grill, global restaurateur HMSHost, and Evergreen Restaurant Group, a franchisee of Outback Steak House.
By allowing customers to order by tablet, restaurants are seeing an average table turn-rate increase of seven minutes, which is leading to 10% sales boosts and 2X waiter efficiency. It probably also helps that the menu is essentially food porn, in that it displays a series of large, full-screen photos of menu items. Customers can also get more information on specific items by tapping the “info” button.
Additionally, guests are prompted to sign up for loyalty programs on the spot—and when you’re sitting around, waiting for your food, and your options are A) make small talk with your mother, or B) play on the tablet, you’re probably going to sign up for the loyalty program. Indeed, restaurants using Presto are seeing 9X increases in loyalty program sign ups.
And of course, customers can play games on the tablets.
Since launching Presto in 2011, E La Carte has been growing sales at 35% month over month.
E La Carte isn’t the only company attempting to push a tablet-ordering revolution. Teburu launched its own Android-based tablet ordering system in late 2012. And eMenu has focused on iPad ordering.
“E la Carte offers the most innovative and reliable guest tablet solution in the industry. We’re thrilled to further accelerate the company’s growth with not only capital, but also our significant resources and expertise in manufacturing, operations, and media,” said Christine Herron, Director at Intel Capital, in a statement. “As E la Carte transforms the dining experience, we are creating a new market for both restaurant and guest services.”
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