It’s Uber Eats or Deliveroo, but for your restaurant table.
It’s Instagram, except the drool-worthy plate of food doesn’t just exist as an image on your screen – it gets delivered to your table.
It’s every bill-splitting app you’ve ever deigned to try. It’s all of these things, rolled up into one app that aims to integrate into your dining experience.
In a bid to do away with traditional menus, Stevan Premutico – the founder of Dimmi (now TheFork) – has returned with me&u, an app which more than 500 restaurants have signed up to.
The app aims to convert the entire restaurant dining experience into a few taps on your smartphone and eliminate the process of flagging down staff to order, flagging down staff again to pay and the hassle of splitting bills.
After downloading the me&u app, just tap the ‘beacon’ on the table (multiple diners can tap on at once) and flick through the menu options at your leisure.
When you’re done with your meal, payment is sorted easily and in moments – all within the same app – and you’re free to head straight out the door.
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No more playing the waiting game
The goal of the me&u app is to do two things: to reduce “friction” for the customer, and to turn over more tables for businesses.
“Now, there’s no waiting eight minutes at the end of a meal [to eliminate the bill]. You push a button and you’re gone,” Premutico told Yahoo Finance.
And in a way that’s reminiscent of Instagram, menu options are accompanied with images so you’ll never have to um-and-ah about what to order again.
“We’re visual human beings now. So rather than reading the menu, I can now see the menu.”
When it comes to sorting payment, there’s no need to chase friends up again or use a separate app. You can choose to split the bill evenly, split it by item, or pay for the whole thing. (Other payment options are also available through Apple Pay, Google Pay or PayPal).
Above all, Premutico is adamant about making wait times something of ancient history.
“In any restaurant or whenever you're in a cafe, you're finishing a meal, and then you have to go and stand in a queue to pay. It just defies logic.”
Turning tables for businesses
For cafes and restaurants, the app is a game-changer, creating more efficiency for busy waitstaff and floor managers by removing the task of taking orders and making payments, which make up 60 per cent of a waiter’s job, the app founder said.
But won’t businesses lose valuable moments of interaction with customers that are so vital building relationships?
Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
“We want to free up the waiter from the low value stuff... and free them up to do the higher-value stuff, which is the relationship with the customers. If you can take away the order and payment, then that happens.”
Not only that, but the app is making it easier than ever to order: customers are actually spending 10 to 15 per cent more. “This [app] does up-selling and cross-selling for you.”
And what about all the tricky, nuanced changes to meal and coffee orders that you might only entrust to a human?
“We’re getting orders like latte, half strength, three-quarters sugar, a bit of honey on the side,” said Premutico.
“The way Australians order coffee is f**king insane.”
The app caters to all coffee drinkers: with a few taps, you can tailor your beverage order to your heart’s delight.
And when you’re ready to pay, you can add a tip of 5, 10, 15 or 20 per cent, so workers won’t be missing out on their due if they’ve provided top-notch service.
Technology is the answer
While the app’s value for customers is in a more streamlined dining experience, Premutico is working at his ambition of rescuing a languishing hospitality industry, which he says is only seeing a dismal 4 per cent profit. A fifth of all businesses that open in 2019 will shut up shop before the year is out, he added.
“It's an industry [where] technology can be a big part of the answer to the problem.
“And if those two magical things happen, if customers by order through here and spend more, if [the businesses] are profitable, and if the waiter can be freed up to build relationships, then I think it's a win-win for everyone,” he said.
“It's gonna make a big, positive impact in this industry.”
In Premutico’s eyes, me&u’s potential outstrips just the domestic market: the Australian entrepreneur is hoping to bring the app to the world.
“What I’ve seen in the past couple of months is this is going to be global. It’s not [just] Australian,” he told Yahoo Finance.
He’s got the team to back up his global ambitions, too: a glance at the supporting cast behind me&u shows many of the same team members that brought us Dimmi.
Not only that, but the me&u app enjoys the backing of tech heavyweights such as the likes of Will Easton, Jason Pellegrino and Mike Abbott, who are either current or managing directors of Facebook Australia, Google Australia, Domain, or Uber. Celebrity chef Neil Perry has thrown his weight behind the app as well.
And behind all of it is a self-confessed “perfectionist” laser-focussed on integrating tech, dining, and profit.
“I want to do good in this industry. I want to do something that makes a difference.”
Which restaurants have already signed up to me&u?
More than 500 venues across the country have signed up, with the roll-out still underway. You’ll soon see me&u at recognisable institutions such as the Rockpool Dining Group, the Boathouse Group, and Watsons Bay Hotel.
In the meantime, these are the 20 cafes and restaurants in Sydney that already have me&u up and running:
Chat Thai Thaitown
The Bower Restaurant
Three Beans Beecroft
Cafe Felix Sydney
The Shed Hurstville
Baby Coffee Co
Pablo & Rusty's CBD
Milk Bar by Cafe Ish
JB & Sons Freshwater
Zeus Surry Hills
Sonoma Rose Bay
Pasture of Balmoral
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