Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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A few slices short of a loaf.

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Fast Food atm

Order food by pressing buttons on atm-like screen
  (+19, -5)(+19, -5)
(+19, -5)
  [vote for,

Instead of shouting, "What?!" into fast food drive-thrus, you simply press buttons on a screen and the info goes to the workers inside and you get a total you can read before you get to the window. Maybe some casual sit-down restaurants could use it, too--especially during busy times.
smylly, Jan 02 2001

Automatic Restaurant Table http://www.halfbake...0Restaurant_20Table
[Monkfish, Jan 02 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) automat http://www.mcny.org/abbott/a069.htm
[1978tomy, Jan 02 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) U.S. patent no. 4,722,053 http://www.delphion...ls?&pn=US04722053__
Patent title: "Food service ordering terminal with video game capability" [beauxeault, Jan 02 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) "M-Commerce" http://seattle.inte...3811_729691,00.html
Order food by dialing special number on your mobile, then drive through & pick it up. [wiml, Feb 27 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

automatic sandwich maker http://www.halfbake..._20sandwich_20maker
[1kester, Feb 28 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       man! "point and grunt" enchiritos! I'm there!
absterge, Jan 02 2001

       But what about those people that want a cheese burger with no ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickle, add relish, extra lettuce and extra onions? And then, they want a totally seperate order for someone else in the car? It would take a good deal of programming, not only for the touchpad, but for the cooks/sandwich makers and the general public too. Also, if there was a lot of traffic people would have to touch the pad several times so it would get some wear and tear and need replacing. And lastly, but not least, how is it going to be reprogrammed when a new sandwich is introduced? Does the store manager need to be a computer programmer to figure it out? Otherwise, I think it is a good idea, I will vote for it.
barnzenen, Jan 03 2001

       Well, the registers that they use at most fast foods places are just about what you're talking about. They punch in what you want and the order shows up in the back. Maybe they have buttons that say no mustard, etc. Or maybe there could be some alpha keys, too. When you place your order you could get a ticket number. So if you want to place two separate orders you'd just tell them at pick-up the numbers you need. And they have new sandwiches fairly often. The information is downloaded into the registers now. They could still do that.
smylly, Jan 03 2001

       barnzenen, anybody who orders like that shouldn't be using a drive through in the first place, because they should realize that that sort of behavior is purely counterproductive - we use drive throughs to dispense fast, standard issue, quasi-nutritional "food", with the emphasis on /fast/. If you have a 6-modification burger in your order, and seperate orders for multiple others, go inside and talk to the guy, F2F. It's the same thing as the ATM... (see ATM Time Limit [no link for you!]) >P
absterge, Jan 03 2001

       When I was at Wendy's I got several people that wanted modified burger's plus one hot fry and one cold fry for their dog and 2 more orders amongst other wacky things. That alpha pad might work, but it would take up time, I mean who wants to sit there and type in their special order? Agreed, they should go inside, but reality bits us in the butt again, they don't.   

       I also had someone who thought it would be funny to talk back to me on the speaker with a bullhorn, not only did the manager ask him to leave, he didn't get his order either.
barnzenen, Jan 03 2001

       1983, I successfully had a bong re-iced at a drive-through. "Welcome to Del-Taco..."
'I'd like some ice for my bong'
"Cool!...Come on up, man!"
Bong was then passed through window, where said employee iced it up to correct level. Try that with pushbutton menu.
thumbwax, Jan 04 2001

       <grins at Thumbwax>   

       It wouldn't be too hard to have 'first order/second order' buttons, or 'no mustard/mayo/whatever'...If the screen was set up as a point-and-drool touch screen, adding new sandwiches would be a matter of changing a computer inside, rather than an overlay on the speaker stand. Shouldn't be too hard to add a 'Help' button, a la bowling alleys, for really oddball orders as well. <When I worked at Wendy's I once got a request for a single, no bun or nothing. Lady said it was for her dog.>   

       Biggest problem I see is that you'd have to have some sort of movable 'laptop' like thing, as cars are different sizes, and not everybody would be able to reach the screen from a normal position. This would likely lead to having someone hold onto it and drive away, ripping it off the sign.   

       Second problem is similar to elevators; some idiot punches everything on the screen and drives away, next person puts in their order then <because the one in front of them is gone> ends up with the fake order.   

       All that being said, I like the idea. Having to try and figure out what Charlie Brown's parents just said can be a pain. I do like McD's new thing of having a screen repeat the order, so you can see that what they heard is what you said.
StarChaser, Jan 09 2001

       Arby's introduced a "Touch 2000" computer menu for indoor customer use in 1989; I've used one in 1999. It eliminates and parallelizes much of the "do you want fries with that?" - "uhm, let me think" transactions of ordering food, but there was still a human translator between the order and the kitchen, which is probably exactly the level you want.   

       The ergnonomic issues of using buttons in a drive through situation are still tricky. Maybe the car of the future could have a little built-in palm pilot that loads, via bluetooth or IR, software from the drive-thru (or any surrounding structure that needs to interact with the driver, e.g. parking lot, toll booth, ...).
jutta, Jan 09 2001

       This is a good idea. Special orders can be handled by a button labeled "special order," which calls a human into the system.
Vance, Feb 08 2001

       And theeeeeeeeeeeeen...
ElDonut, Feb 12 2001

       I've read about a sit-down restaurant in Japan in the 80's where you ordered on a touchpad embedded in the table. I think it was plagued with mechanical problems, though.
kellyryer, Feb 22 2001

       sorry if this was already mentioned (I sorta skipped most of the text), but during my week-long stint at Arby's, I used THIS EXACT THING to take orders (using the drag and drool thing SC mentioned). When you touch one button, i.e. "chicken sandwich," it brings up a separate menu that says Mayonnaise, Lettuce, etc. I always thought they should just let the customers use it, easy as it was. Of course, people are stupid, just ask any Tech Support person (StarChaser)
AfroAssault, May 04 2001

       The Taco Bell near my house had exactly this machine available to customers in the order line. I used it, it worked well, even for special orders. They took them out though. I asked why and they said, it was a test market, and they tested very negatively. I haven't been back to a Taco Bell since, being unable to shake the feeling that I would be eating with idiots, morons, lamebrains and Luddites.
globaltourniquet, May 04 2001


       I guess some people are so starved for human contact that even 'Want fries with that?' is good...
StarChaser, May 04 2001

       H3y! eYe e4Tz0r 4t TB 4ll dA T1m3 KTHX!@1!#!!2!1@!!
absterge, May 04 2001

       h4x0r sp34k, eh?
AfroAssault, Jun 05 2001

       Wouldn't this simply be a vending machine?
RayfordSteele, Feb 26 2002

       If you could automate the entire process, it would not only be cheaper for the restaurant, it would be a lot faster for the customers.

       I've had to wait 15 minutes in a drive-thru line, and the line wasn't even very long!

       Oh yeah, another thing: you could have an arm that extends to or into your car window so people can reach the keys or touch-screen. But it's also on a pivot hinge so that if they pull forward in their car, the controller hits the back edge of their car window and pivots forward, out of the car's path.
miles, Feb 26 2002

       everyones over complicating this. I'm sure this could be implemented very easilly but you would always need someone serving for people who didn't know how to use it.   

       You would not get people placing orders and driving away as they would have cars in front of them and the pay window in front of them.   

       Wearing out issue. It wouldn't wear out any faster than the keypads on the till.   

       If you look on a macdonalds menu you will be supprised how small the selection is and this is an idea situation to use this technology.
CasaLoco, Feb 26 2002

       What problem does this solve? Drive thrus around here (Vancouver BC, Canada) actually have decent intercom systems. They could probably be improved though, and that couldn't be too difficult. Self serve order screens DEFINITELY wouldn't speed things up. I know from purchasing movie tickets (which is MUCH more straightforward than purchasing fast food), where we have a choice between using the machine or the cashier, that the line always moves much faster with an experienced cashier. People are stupid and it takes them forever to figure out technology.
superye, Feb 26 2002

       Some places (in areas where people spend a lot of time in their cars) are experimenting with having customers make orders via mobile phone, sometimes by dialing a number which make a pre-arranged order for them, and then drive to the pickup window to get it. This avoids the delay of waiting for somone to order: if the system is working, people just drive through, grab their bag of grease & caffeine, and everything else is electronic. (I've added a link to a story describing an espresso place that works like this. I think there's a McDonald's in the area doing the same thing.)
wiml, Feb 27 2002

       Like Jutta and AfroAssault said, Baked (roasted, actually) for a long time at Arby's. I've seen and used it. It doesn't help because the people in front of you are invariably slower than a cashier would be, and it doesn't seem to save the restaurant much in labor costs.
bookworm, Feb 27 2002

       What about all the thousands of jobs you'd get rid of?   

       Fish bone.
Danzarak, Feb 28 2002

       Besides the fact that automats have existed for some 30+ years, think of the folks who would get off at spreading various infectious substances on the keypad.
1kester, Feb 28 2002

       BTW, about 20 years ago I once ate at the Wendy's on an I-90 oasis between Rockford and Chicago during the lunch rush. They had an employee go through the line, take each person's order, and hand the person a suitably-marked slip of paper with their order on it. When each person reached the front of the line, the customer would hand the clerk the slipof paper, which the clerk would then read into a microphone at hyper-speed. That line moved amazingly fast; it's amazing how much time is saved not having to wait for a customer to select what they want.
supercat, Feb 28 2002

       Contemplate the number of idiots out there who do not understand machines in the slightest. It takes days for the restaurants to even train their moron employees to use the computer.   

       This is much like the self-checkout at my grocery store. It would be great if everyone were as smart as yours truly, however I always get stuck behind someone who can never find a barcode, doesn't understand the (EXTREMELY INTUITIVE) system, and has a boatload of items in the lane that's supposed to be 10 or less.   

       All of these are great for the store because instead of being pissed off at the cashier (and therefore the store) for a slow checkout, you get angry at other customers, which is not the store's fault.
utexaspunk, Mar 30 2002

       good morning
erica19, Apr 13 2003

       I have had an interest in a similar concept for quite some time and have been seeking individuals to create a business partnership with. There are several versions of the concpet currently serving the market. It would be a wonderful opportunity to jump in feet first with these ideas as a startup company with great potential. If further interested, please email bg_technology@yahoo.com.
looking4partners, Jun 09 2003

       Never trust a businessman with a web email account.
Aristotle, Jun 09 2003

krelnik, Jun 09 2003

       Let's take it to the next level! Fast food establishments hire only people with telepathic capabilities.
goober, Jun 09 2003


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