Restaurants are turning to new tech options to streamline their businesses. No, this doesn't mean robots in restaurants are happening yet - but restaurant owners are turning to the iPad for both productivity and marketing. Here are some popular uses for iPads and iPhones in today’s restaurants.

Menu Apps Got beautiful photos of food? The iPad’s glossy, high-res screen makes it a natural choice for displaying them... but its $300+ price tag may not be a super cost-effective replacement for paper menus. If you have the cash, a crisp digital touch can be added to the dining experience using apps like Plate. This app features instant synchronization, zoom capabilities, and kitchen integration. To offset the cost of investing in iPads, Plate and other iPad menu apps guarantee a sales increase of up to 15%.

Plate Menu

Restaurants with vast wine inventories (or better yet, stately castles with actual vineyards) may find iPads particularly helpful for displaying wine lists. Apps can easily describe a wine’s region, varietal, and aroma.  One such option is Tastevin, which also suggests food pairings with each wine.

For more casual establishments who can't quite afford an iPad for every table, there are apps out there where your customers can access your menu using their smartphone instead. SecondMenu allows you to publish menus as well as integrate with Facebook by sharing menu choices on customers’ news feeds.

Guest-Tracking Apps Nobody likes waiting lists and seating charts on hectic Saturday nights - so some restaurant owners are using iPad apps to help them track and manage customers. OpenTable Manager lets servers book reservations and manage tables. Similarly, NoWait is an iPad wait list and seating tool which notifies guests via text message when their seating is ready.

Screencap: Open Table Manager

Apps for Servers Let's not forget the servers. There are apps for them too! ScheduleFly boasts instant communication: why call each employee when you can automatically text or email everyone when their schedule changes? For the server wanting a better way to track tip totals, there’s Tip Bucket: an iPhone app that tracks hours worked and daily tips earned. Servers can also simplify customer orders with an iPhone app like Waiter's Notes, which saves frequently-ordered menu items and multiplies orders at the tap of a finger.

Robots: When do we get those? We still don't know when robots will be available for your restaurant or bar, and trust us, we're a little sad about that. In the meantime, check out a few of these apps and see if any of them can make your life a little easier.

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