SmartCellar menu app from A great deal of press is given to e-books replacing printed books, newspapers, magazines, and even comics. But as a New York Times article points out, e-reading devices have also begun making inroads on some less traditional forms of printed media—such as restaurant menus.

A number of fine dining restaurants have begun replacing their traditional menus and wine catalogs with iPads equipped with the information in digital form. Establishments like them because they can incorporate multimedia in ways that old media couldn’t, and can easily be updated without necessitating an entire new printing; customers like them because they are interactive and easily searchable, and can contain far more information than the old printed form to help them make a decision.

“If they build one that can open up a bottle of wine, I’m going to be scared to death,” said Fred Dame, one of the country’s 105 master sommeliers and president of the Guild of Sommeliers Education Foundation. “When I saw this thing and saw the applications, I said, ‘Oh, man, that’s the end of the print shop.’ ”

Restaurants trying the devices out have also seen their wine sales increase significantly, even converting beer and cocktail drinkers who spend time with the iPad.

Of course, buying dozens of iPads for a restaurant is a considerable investment, so it’s not something that every establishment is going to be able to do. But as tablet prices fall considerably, so will the barriers to adopting cheaper devices to do much the same thing. And it’s also possible that restaurants will start making their menus available as downloadable apps so that people can use them on their own devices.

(Found via Tim Carmody at


  1. Two Indian friends of mine were in a Moscow restaurant a few days ago. English is their native language but neither could speak Russian. She took out her iPAD and fired up a translation app and soon became the centre of attention as each party made themselves understood through it. The management were so taken with this that they waived the bill!

  2. I’ve been to some restaurants and izakaya in Japan where they take this step one further (using touch screens, not iPads) – instead of just having menus, they have an interactive ordering system where you can order food and drinks as well, and it automatically registers it to the correct table. It shouldn’t be that hard to modify something like that for the iPad. The real issue is whether you want to let your customers use it for other things, and getting it reset once someone is gone. It might also be worth it to go for an android tablet or other design that’s cheaper and possibly more robust. If you have a touch screen tablet that can only be used in the restaurant itself, it’s also not as attractive a target for theft.

  3. A much cheaper tablet would suffice, but a restaurant with a truly amazing wine list wouldnl’t want to present a “much cheaper tablet” to their clientele they would want the iPad. And for the same reason they currently bind their wine lists in a big heavy leather bound menu. Presentation matters.

  4. Gentlemen, the facts are that eMenus, Tablets and Ipads are already being deployed in casual dining restaurants successfully.
    we are taking about hundreds of installations not five or six restaurants. Conceptic is the leading company in this Industry has more than 900 installations world wide (UK, Spain, Holland, Russia Israel…). Conceptic double the number of installations annually for the last 2 years. I think that it says every thing… Check our installations:

    and see our Ipad menu solution:

    It is quite obvious to me that in 2-3 years a significant percentage of the restaurants will use the touch screen menu solution instead of paper menu. the world changes rapidly and I see no reason way restaurant will stay behind. Today we heard about the changes in the ordering way that McDonald’s is about to do. Now the customers will order via touch screens instead of taking to the nice boy over the counter. The technology is knocking on the restaurants doors …

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