updated 03:00 pm EST, Tue February 7, 2012
Broader rollout could mix entertainment, business
Buffalo Wild Wings is expanding a pilot program to put iPads in its restaurants. Initially the the effort began at a location in Toronto, Canada, but it is migrating to a restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where each table will have an iPad allowing people to not only place orders, but browse the web. The company says it is waiting on tests to decide whether iPads will ultimately mix ordering and entertainment.
It has partnered with another firm, HubWorks Interactive, which produces mobile ordering platforms. It also sells a specialized case, equipping iPads with a kickstand, credit card reader, and better power options, including AC power or as much as 16 hours of battery life. Extra protection features keep an iPad safe in the context of a restaurant; a basic iPad offering is said to cost $750 per unit.
To deter theft, Buffalo Wild Wings is taking the unusual approach of tagging each iPad with an RFID chip, rather than hooking up a cable or simply bolting each unit to its table. Some other possible plans may include advertising, to defray costs, or even allowing video chat.
The chain notes that in initial testing, men at restaurants would typically prefer to watch football or hockey games, while women would pick up an iPad and launch Facebook. "We have a very captive audience with good sales volume in our restaurants, so we view this iPad as a way for customers to stay connected socially and not have to use their own device," says Buffalo Wild Wings' director of international business, Tim Murphy.