Hot on HuffPost Tech:

See More Stories
AOL Tech

Restaurants Now Realizing That the iPad Makes Life Easier

Looking for that perfect vintage to accompany your filet mignon? Sneaking out for a quick bite during your lunch break? The iPad is here to help. Restaurants across the nation have begun directly embedding the tablet into the eating experience, with benefits for patrons and managers, alike.

A Chicago upscale steakhouse, called Chicago Cut, for example, has purchased some 40 iPads to help customers make more informed wine decisions. The restaurant's custom app allows users to browse through all of Chicago Cut's 750 wines, which are searchable by price, variety and region. Connoisseurs can even find more detailed information on a given wine's taste, and can locate its exact winery on Google Maps. "I've already seen an increase of wine per customer of 20 percent," restaurant managing partner David Flom told the AP. "I can't say that the iPad commanded 100-percent, but I can say it commanded a significant portion of that."

The 'Pad is making its presence felt at more ubiquitous eateries, as well. Au Bon Pain has rolled out the tablet at six of its 220 locations, and is eager to introduce it at many more. Instead of filling out their orders on pieces of paper, customers can now simply send in their selections via iPad. "One of our employees has an iPad with a menu loaded in it and they'll take your order," explained Ed Frechette, Au Bon Pain's vice president of marketing in Boston. "You still see a menu board with all the information on it. We have handheld laminated menus for a reference, but all the paper pads are gone."

Perhaps more important than its capacity to streamline the ordering process is the iPad's ability to forge stronger ties between customers and their favorite restaurants. With built-in consumer surveys, promotional offers, and online outreach capabilities, the iPad can help any restaurant get a better idea of a given patron's preferences. "It's about getting to know your customer in a way that you can't get to know them from the waiter or waitress," said Patrick Eldon, chief executive of a company called TALK Inc., which helps install online ordering systems for restaurants. "You now have incredibly valuable data about customers, how often they eat, what a particular customer likes to order."

Tags: Apple, apps, Au bon Pain, AuBonPain, customer service, CustomerService, food, ipad, menu, order, restaurants, top, waitress, wine