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Taking a peek behind the panel at multifunctional digital menu boards.
Digital signage is now commonplace in today's dining establishments. From quick-serve to fast casual to fine dining, digital signage is now the norm, and something diners have come to expect. But what most patrons don't see is that the usage of digital signage in the restaurant industry extends much deeper than the menu boards themselves. In fact, digital menu boards are just part of the overall value proposition of digital signage in the restaurant industry.
As most restaurant operators are painfully aware, new FDA legislation under Obamacare (section 4205 of the Affordable Care Act) requires that restaurants and similar retail food establishments that are part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items must provide customers with caloric information for each menu item. This renders traditional static menus nearly obsolete, as it will be necessary to make regular menu updates to ensure the correct presentation of calorie count information as the regulations inevitably morph and change over time due to precedent-forming lawsuits. Digital menu boards take the pain out of compliance, making it easy to update the presentation of nutritional data, as needed.
But that's not the only way digital signage can serve up value for restaurants.
Restaurants of all sorts are very particular about creating the desired vibe — subtle tweaks to lighting, background music, color palette and even room temperature work in harmony to create an environment that suits the clientele. Digital signage is now being used to achieve a similar effect. In the case of the Pear Street Bistro in Northern California, a cadre of screens are used throughout the establishment to set the mood. The screens display different content depending on the time of day — promoting an upbeat, casual feel during the day, while in the evening patrons are tempted by a series of full-motion clips showcasing an array of specialty cocktails. This chameleon-like ability of the bistro to change moods throughout the day enables the proprietors to create a distinct mood that caters perfectly to the clientele.
Many savvy restaurateurs are finding use for their digital menu boards outside normal business hours. For example, the Cheesecake Factory uses its extensive network of in-restaurant digital signage for company announcements, employee training and other corporate communications. This extends the value of digital signage within the organization, serving customer audiences as well as internal ones.
As you can see, multifunctionality is key with digital signage, especially as it relates to the restaurant industry. This is something we should all bear in mind when speaking with customers. We need to counsel them on the significant upside of digital signage to restaurants not just as digital menu boards, but as vital tools to ensure compliance with new legislation and existing health and safety standards, help entice customers and improve employee communications.
BrightSign CEO Jeff Hastings joined BrightSign in August 2009 while it was still a division of Roku Inc. In late 2010 with digital signage activities growing so rapidly, BrightSign became a separate firm. The holder of eight U.S. patents, he also has a history of tech industry leadership, including as president of mp3 pioneer Rio.