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Overwhelming menu? There's an app for that

Friday - 6/3/2011, 8:30am  ET

menu app (WTOP/Andrew Mollenbeck)
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Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

COLUMBIA, Md. - When hunger or thirst is the top priority, navigating a huge menu can be overwhelming. Enter the iPad app.

Still in the early stages, it allows customers to search, browse and order drinks using the wireless device.

Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia has been using the technology, developed by MICROS in Maryland, for about a month. Patrons use six iPads to sort through the extensive libations list that features 24 beers on tap, 250 by the bottle and a "healthy wine list."

"It's very daunting," proprietor Randy Marriner says of the 40-page hard copy version. "It's not user friendly."

The app also allows people to select their drinks according to personal taste.

"Suppose I want a crisp, fresh-tasting glass of wine," Marriner explains. "I can go by flavor profile, and it will find that wine for me, or if I want to go by country, or if I want to go by brewer."

The pub's focus is technology-savvy millennials, the next generation of customers.

"That's our future," he says, adding that the menu app is already catching on with his older patrons.

Along with helping customers narrow in on a decision, restaurant management says it also helps expedite the ordering process, especially if servers are busy.

"Each one of these iPads has a built-in GPS tracker, so depending on where they're located within the restaurant, it will tell the server, or back waiter, or drink runner where to take the drink that they ordered," says Tori Marriner, chief experience officer.

The restaurant is looking at additional ways to involve customers, perhaps even allowing them to pay through the service.

"Hopefully it will never replace the human interaction," Randy Marriner says.

Victoria Gastro Pub is located at 8201 Snowden River Parkway Columbia, MD 21045. (410)750-1880.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved)