Apple Gets a Taste of the Restaurant Business


Is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) getting into the restaurant business? A recently published patent uncovered by Patently Apple outlines a unique method for taking orders and reservations in a restaurant. In the patent titled, “Systems and Methods for Processing Orders and Reservations Using an Electronics Device,” Apple describes a holistic restaurant management system that would recommend restaurants based on specific criteria, record reservations, and take customers’ food orders via an iOS device.

As noted in the patent description, the system would also be able to dynamically update a restaurant’s wait list based on various factors such as the “estimated finish time” for a particular dish. For example, a customer waiting for a table may be told that their wait time will be longer or shorter based on what people are currently ordering in the restaurant. “[T]he number of items ordered, or even more specifically the actual items ordered at a table, can be used to refine the wait time of entries in the wait list,” noted Apple in the patent description. “Changes to the wait time or requests for a reservation can be communicated to the restaurant through a portable electronic device operated by a customer.”

The system will also be able to provide restaurant recommendations based on geographic location, user-specific information, or other specifications. For example, if a customer finds that a particular restaurant has a wait time that is unacceptable, the system will provide a list of other nearby restaurants with shorter wait times. As noted by Apple in the patent description, the system could also provide recommendations based on “a particular restaurant type, cuisine, ethnicity, price point, rating, or a combination of a few of these factors.”

Apple’s proposed system will also manage food orders based on a users’ individual profile information. For example, a user’s profile could include information about ingredients that the customer is allergic to. This information would be transmitted to the system in order to ensure that none of the items that the customer orders contains the ingredient.

Other embodiments of Apple’s proposed system allow the customer to place orders directly from their mobile device. The personal profile of the individual could also be used to create a personalized menu based on their food preferences or allergies.

Besides using the system to manage restaurant reservations and orders, Apple also noted that the system could be extended to other types of businesses. In the patent description, Apple noted that the system could easily be adapted to movie theaters, museums, golf courses, bank services, auto services, and barber shops. Although it is unknown if Apple has any immediate plans to implement this system, it should be noted that a “Life on iPad” promotional video found on Apple’s website includes the use of an iPad in a restaurant kitchen.

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