Recently I went to Carmel Café & Wine Bar in Sarasota for a friend’s birthday lunch. It was my first time visiting the restaurant and was very pleasantly surprised by what I encountered. The aesthetics were nice and it was welcoming and comforting from when you enter. What I was most excited about after I walked in was seeing the stack of Apple iPads on a table by the hostess stand.
I immediately asked the hostess jokingly if we got iPads to play with during our meal. Surprisingly, she said we got one, but not to play with. She explained as she escorted us to our table that the iPads are used for ordering. The menus are all on there along with the ability to order.
I had a new toy to play with during lunch and couldn’t wait to explore the functionality! The menus were very clearly laid out and featured full color pictures as well as written descriptions of each menu item. You could swipe from right to left to select the next category from appetizers to entrees, beverages to dessert. You also have the ability to search from the menu at the top and quickly jump to the desired category instead of scrolling through them.
This was such an awesome experience! To be able to control your food and the timing and not have to depend on servers to come around was great. We first ordered our drinks, then appetizers, then when we were getting towards the end of our first course, we ordered our entrees. This made the process so much smoother and more fun than the typical dining experience. Service was prompt and the timing flowed much better instead of food being brought out before you were ready only to get cold, or long after you had finished your previous course.
Our server still stopped by periodically, but it felt like at natural times to see about water refills, instead of the often annoyance of a server coming too frequently or not frequently enough. This felt like we had more control over our meal and the experience was made more enjoyable by the technology Carmel Café brought to the table. We even had the ability to see our check as we added items to our order on the iPad.
On top of the amazing use of technology to ameliorate our meal, the food was excellent. There were tons of healthy options including gluten free and vegetarian menu options. I cannot wait to go back to Carmel Café again since this was such a pleasurable experience and the food was great! They even offer great specials like “After 5 at Carmel,” which feature $5.00 wines, small plates and martinis on weeknights from 5-7pm, Wine Wednesdays, and Prix Fixe Dinners for 2. In addition to the Sarasota restaurant, they have locations in Tampa and Clearwater.
I highly recommend Carmel Café and hope that some of this use of the iPad technology will spread to other restaurants and maybe even to our theme parks. I was recently listening to an episode of the Betamouse podcast from last year and they talked about their desire to see something of this nature at Walt Disney World. I would love to see this come to fruition in the near future whether by iPad or even your own smartphone. Like they say in Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress at the Magic Kingdom, “What will they think up next? … Who know? We’ve got a whole new century waiting for us out there.”
If you are interested in learning more about how Carmel Café uses Apple technology to improve the dining experience, check out this video here on Apple’s website.