Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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The Whistle-Stop Restaurant

Most assuredly the way forward
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(+4, -6)
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A key problem when dining out, I have often found, is the time it takes from wanting to order something to it actually arriving at my table. It is first necessary to attract the attention of a member of waiting staff - often no mean feat in itself - who will eventually take the order and disappear for some interminable period, before returning with the requested item(s).

Imagine, then, a restaurant which cuts down considerably on these delays. A restaurant where the staff will know the very instant you want something, and where the very act of summoning also tells them precisely what it is you're after. This means the waiter will be able to make just one trip to your table, to deliver your food/wine/bill/etc.

"But how is such a remarkable feat possible?" I hear you all cry out desperately. Some would propose impersonal electronic systems, or complex gadgetry that most likely involves model railways placed about the whole restaurant. But my solution is simple, foolproof, and wholly without flaws of any kind.

Each table is issued with a set of whistles. There is a whistle of different pitch for each section on the menu - so if the menu comprised starters, main courses, side dishes, desserts and drinks, there would be 6 whistles in the set (including one for the bill).

To order, merely take the whistle corresponding to the appropriate section and blow. The number of blows on the whistle tallies with the place of the item in its section - so if you wanted the third starter, you would blow the lowest-pitched whistle three times. A member of staff will promptly hear your order and bring your food to you, which in the example given would be a vegetable samosa.

Whistles will of course be hygenically cleaned after every meal, as is normal with the cutlery. Some people may nonetheless wish to have their own sets, which is fine so long as they are pitched correctly. Having one's own set would also greatly simplify ordering food over the phone, especially where the line quality is poor or a language barrier exists - a whistle blows these niggles clean away.

-alx, Aug 06 2002

Automated Restaurant Management System (ARMS) http://www.halfbake...t_20System_20(ARMS)
An inferior idea, but my inspiration nonetheless. [-alx, Aug 06 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[link]






       <TWEET!> Dude, you should've <TWEET!> heard what happened yesterday!   

       <TWWWEEEET!> Wha? What'd you just say? <TWEET!> Huh?   

       [Sound of stampeding dogs.]
polartomato, Aug 06 2002
  

       alx I dont mean to offend ..... but have you *ever* worked in the service industry?
I for one would have been suffering 'whistle rage' within the first week on the job, its a nice idea and I kind of like it but you would never never get the staff (and keep them) maybe if you were to use robots?
Also when several people blow for an order at the same time ..... You know someone will be getting the Banana Burghinion Samosa before too long....
The_Englishman_Abroad, Aug 06 2002
  

       Having no personal experience of being a waiter, I was very cautious about posting this idea. I asked everybody I know who does work in a restaurant if they thought it was a good idea, and 100% of them absolutely loved it.   

       As for the issue you raised, this could be easily worked around if each set of whistles is given a different timbre.
-alx, Aug 06 2002
  

       I'm afraid I have to bone this one [-alx], all the whistling would make it difficult to enjoy a conversation. Also, you would have to employ waitstaff with excellent pitch. It is also possible to obtain different pitches out of one whistle depending on how loudly it is blown. Too many problems with this idea.
madradish, Aug 07 2002
  

       I've heard of having to sing for your supper, but whistles? Sorry to give the fishbone, but this idea just blows......
Canuck, Aug 08 2002
  

       Frequency-shifters exist to bring the ultrasonic squeaks used by Bats and Dolphins down into the human auditory range. I think they're just a simple single-stage superhet mixer. So, this could be done using a selection of "silent" dog-whistles; the waiting staff could be given tiny earpieces linked to the frequency-shifters.   

       Of course, every dog within a hundred metres of the restaraunt might end up as a dribbling psychotic, due to the endless squeaking .....
8th of 7, Aug 08 2002
  

       [alx], I really dislike the idea of dozens of multi-pitched whistles being blown during the course of my $200 Michelin-rated dinner. And I'm not particularly dissuaded by the prospect of shiny-clean hygenically sanitized instruments, nor the (unstated) promise to make them ultra-sonic (like dog whistles). I suspect the restaurateur using this system will go through many, many staff turnovers and a few suits for psychological damages before reaching a happy economy.   

       But I, too, am going to challenge the voting tide and add a couple of butter pats to your croissant inventory because this is such a clearly imagined, superiorly written idea. I wish everyone took as much care with the the presentation of their ideas as you do.   

       Bon appetit, alx.
jurist, Aug 08 2002
  
      
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