Advanced Food Service
Working during the week between Christmas and New Years, at least for me, means cleaning out files and long lunches. During one such lunch, a few collegues and I went around the corner to FoodParc. FoodParc is the future of lunch dining. Quick, easy, and pretty much self-servicing.
You walk into the restaurant (err cafeteria) to find a bright and sterilized atmosphere. White and neon. Like the Korova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange. Minus the nude statues and LSD. A human greeter points you to the computer kiosks where you order your food. On the touch screens you are given a choice of several cuisines with the option to highly customize each one. When you are satisfied, slide your credit card through and take your ticket. While it’s unclear whether or not they actually take cash here, it’s definitely frowned upon. A welcome policy. Cash is clumsy, slow, and unsecured. Let’s embrace credits people.
With ticket in hand, you wait at the designated location for your meal to be prepared. A human behind the counter calls your number and gives you your lunch. No waiters. No tipping. A quick turnaround. I am a bit conflicted by this. On one hand, I’m a friend to the waiter/waitress. I’ve been in the trenches. I know what it’s like to deal with the dregs of the Earth while you’re finding your way. At the same time… not having to deal with a cranky post-graduate lazy bastard who would rather be smoking weed then waiting on you is welcome. Or worse, dealing with an overly bubbly and scripted automaton that has been drinking the company kool-aid and revels in his/her flair. Either way, there’s really no sure technique for figuring out which one will spit in your food, so better to take them out of the equation altogether.
There is ample seating for you and your friends to sit down and enjoy your lunch. When you’re done, leave it on the table. A human busboy will take care of it.
None of this is especially groundbreaking. You can find self-order kiosks at Quick Chek. But I do appreciate the way in which FoodParc has organized it. A nifty, interestingly-designed restaurant. An intuitive traffic pattern. And food that is decidedly not bad. The food is cheap. Probably savings passed on by not hiring workers in a recession. The way I see it, you have to start somewhere. If we are indeed going to live in an advanced society, we are going to need advanced food service.