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Table Tracker Helps Diners Get Faster Service at Restaurants

In Utah, Blue Lemon uses the RFID-based system to identify where its customers have seated themselves, and to measure how long it takes for an order to be served.
By Claire Swedberg
Nov 20, 2012After a customer orders food at the counter and takes a seat at one of Blue Lemon's three restaurants in Utah, the meal is now served faster, thanks to the use of radio frequency identification technology. Prior to installing the Long Range Systems (LRS) technology, the staff had to walk throughout the busy restaurant carrying plates of food, searching for numbers on tables identifying specific customers' orders. Now, they can simply view a screen near the kitchen, determine the location of the table at which the customers are seated, and proceed directly to that spot.

The faster service is made possible by high-frequency (HF) RFID tags attached to the underside of each dining table, as well as Table Trackers—devices that read the tags and communicate with a gateway via ZigBee technology. Table Tracker software not only stores the table location and interprets read data from each Table Tracker device, but also tracks the amount of time that passes after the order was placed, and can warn workers and management in the event that the length of a wait is approaching, or has reached, an unacceptable limit.

When not in use, the Table Tracker units can be stacked on top of a battery recharger.

Since the system was installed at the company's three restaurants in June, says Aaron Day, Blue Lemon's CEO, the amount of time required for a plate to be delivered to a table has been reduced by between one and five minutes. For customers, Day says, that means the food arrives faster, and is hot and fresh. That customer satisfaction, he adds, has already made the technology pay for itself during the six months that it has been in use.

Prior to Blue Lemon's adoption of the Table Tracker system, each patron or party was given a number placard to place on their table, and when trying to delivering plates of food to table, staff members sometimes had to call out orders in the hope that the appropriate diners would recognize and claim their meals. While this was taking place, Day says, the food was cooling and labor time was wasted.

Blue Lemon serves artisan sandwiches, salads and gourmet entrees, and considers it a priority to serve this food on time. Last year, the firm decided to invest in technology from LRS. It required a solution for all three of its establishments, especially in downtown Salt Lake City, where business is busy and table space is at a premium. That restaurant alone completed $4 million in sales last week, Blue Lemon reports, while the company serves 2,000 customers weekly at all three locations.


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