Buffalo Wild Wings Tests iPad Ordering System

At one of its Canada locations, Buffalo Wild Wings is trying out a system that allows customers to place orders and pay for their meals using restaurant-owned iPads; the company plans to implement a similar system at its Elk River location in January.

Some Buffalo Wild Wings customers now have Apple iPads to play with while their wings are cooking.

The Golden Valley-based company recently installed an iPad ordering system at its restaurant in Mississauga, Canada as part of a pilot program, according to HubWorks Interactive, LLC, an Idaho-based company that developed the system. One iPad each was placed at 20 of the restaurant's tables, allowing guests to peruse menu items, place orders, and pay for their meals using the touchscreen devices. They can also play games, get sports score tickers, and log in to their Facebook or Twitter accounts.

Buffalo Wild Wings plans to run a similar pilot at its Elk River restaurant in January.

Tim Murphy, director international at Buffalo Wild Wings, told Twin Cities Business that the company will run the Canada pilot for about four months and the Elk River pilot for 30 to 60 days. Murphy said that the company is currently gathering feedback from its Mississauga customers who used the iPads at the restaurant, but that it is too early to determine if the company will launch the iPad ordering system on a wider scale.

Aaron Gabriel, vice president of sales and marketing at HubWorks Interactive, told Twin Cities Business that HubWorks' software delivers orders directly from the iPads to a cook's station or to the bar over a wireless network. Gabriel said this reduces wait times as guests don't have to wait for a server to come take their orders.

Each iPad has a credit card reader attached, allowing customers to swipe their cards themselves to pay for their meals. The software also allows the option to split the payment among more than one credit card.

“We are noting a more efficient process, with guests receiving their food and drinks more quickly,” Murphy said in a statement. “Team member reactions have noted the system is a good complement to their own personal interaction with the guests, and they can see its value in adding efficiency to the ordering process, allowing them to cover additional tables, upsell certain items, and generate more tips.”

Gabriel said the iPads are not attached to the tables because Buffalo Wild Wings wanted its customers to be able to pass the device around the table. While there haven't been any incidents of theft yet, Gabriel said the two companies are looking into implementing a radio-frequency identification (RFID) system that will set off alarms if any of the iPads leave the restaurant.

Buffalo Wild Wings reported $613.3 million in 2010 revenue, making it one of Minnesota's 40 largest public companies.