Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

E-mailing the Chef and Bartender

The mechanization of American society is going too far. Now some soulless restaurateurs are removing the last trace of human interaction in the dining experience with tableside touch screens to send your orders directly to the kitchen and bar.

Can an emoticon replace the eager smile of the person with pad and pencil who tells you, "I'm Debbie and I'll be your server?" Will a computer menu tell you how the duck l'orange is tonight? Can a machine understand how really rare you want your steak or how dry your martini?

There will still be actual people to bring your food and drink (until robots replace them), but they won't give you the feeling of being cosseted and cared for that comes from someone who recites the specials, worries with you as you make your choices and lets you relax by slow-walking your order to the kitchen.

And who will keep you sober as you wave frantically to order a second drink or help you digest your food properly by ignoring your air-scribbling for the check?

Digital dining out just won't be the same.

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