How the Apple Watch will take this NYC restaurant's customer service to the next level

Is the Apple Watch the next iPad?

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Danny Meyer is best known as the mastermind behind Shake Shack, the restaurant chain that handily beats In n Out for the best fast food burger in America. (Bold words, yes, and I stand by them.) But he’s also at the forefront of hospitality industry trends, eliminating tipping at most of his restaurants and offering paid parental leave company-wide. Now he’s bringing the Apple Watch into his rebooted Union Square Cafe in Manhattan to level up on customer service in some unexpected ways.

Servers won’t be using the watch to put your orders through, and maybe you’ll never even see restaurant staff using it—the watch is more of a behind-the-scenes device, despite being very visibly strapped to employees’ wrists. According to Eater, Union Square Cafe’s managers and sommeliers will use the watch, which is integrated with the restaurant’s ResyOS back-of-house iPad-based platform, to perform a variety of tasks:

  • Alert the sommelier when you’ve chosen a bottle of wine.
  • Ping the restaurant’s managers when you haven’t ordered a drink yet or when a menu item is no longer available.
  • Notify coat check that you’re finishing dinner so your coat will be ready to go when you are.
  • Send a notification when a VIP walks in (hey, that could be you).

iPads at restaurants aren’t exactly commonplace, but they are far more prevalent then Apple Watches. If Apple’s “most personal device ever” has a killer use case, it’s fitness, not hospitality. But like hotel chain SPG, which turns your Apple Watch into a room key, Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group is experimenting with the watch’s potential.

The watch rollout is part of Union Square Cafe’s adoption of ResyOS, an iPad app that combines reservations, point-of-sale system, mobile payments, and the watch as a back-of-house communication tool. Eventually Resy users, who can already install the app to book prized tables at a variety of hard-to-get-into restaurants (for a price, of course), will be able to split the check in-app.

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