When people go out to restaurants in groups, it can be hard for a waiter to keep their order straight: there might be a dozen people at a table, all with slightly-different (yet easily confused) orders.
Normally, it’s easy to fix a dish that was given to the wrong person—just swap it with the correct one. But sometimes it isn’t obvious what’s in each dish: one might have peanut sauce or just a few pine nuts in it.
It would be easy to forget this detail during a busy dinner hour, but this could cause a calamity if the restaurant patron is allergic to the substance in question.
And even in the best-case scenario, it’s always going to take a bit of extra time at a large table for a waiter to remember who ordered what.
When a person makes an order at an especially fancy restaurant (say, ones with at least one Michelin star rating), they should be given a distinctive piece of headwear to wear until their dish arrives (Figure 1).
Fig. 1: We don’t need to guess what this restaurant patron ordered—they clearly ordered the octopus appetizer.
This headwear serves two purposes (besides looking fashionable): 1) it lets the waiters tell, at a glance, who is still waiting on food, and 2) it prevents the wrong-dish-to-the-wrong-person faux pas describes above.
As a bonus, restaurants could even cut out the entire ordering process this way—if a person already knows what they want to order, they could just put on the correct hat (presumably hats would be provided on a rack at the entrance). This would save even more time and add more efficiency to the overall national labor force.
Restaurants could even offer these hats for sale (Figure 2)—this would serve the dual purpose of streamlining orders and advertising for the restaurant at the same time.
Restaurants are a low-margin business that can always use some extra help: this would be a great way to make more efficient use of labor and increase customer satisfaction at the same time.
PROS: Decreases the amount of time spent waiting tables and decreases the chance of a customer getting the wrong order.
CONS: It might be difficult to distinguish between the hats for foods that are similar except for preparation (e.g. “steak, medium” and “steak, rare”). Unclear how allergies would be indicated.