A Boston University student, sick of being placed on hold when he called his favorite pizzeria, concluded that it would be a lot easier if he could just IM his order in. This led Keith Nowak to bag the idea of law school and focus on a product - IM Dining - that enables texters to add restaurants to their buddy lists and IM away when they get the urge for a large pepperoni or a meatball sub.
Once the IM-er makes the connection, they're put into an interactive menu. If they have special requests or questions, they can text message with someone at the restaurant - U WNT FRIES W THT. The restaurant then confirms the order and lets the order-er know when it will be ready.
IM Dining is already in use in a couple of small outlets in the Boston area, and Nowak is talking to a few chains.
For anyone whose been put on endless hold at their pizza place on a busy night - say, when the Super Bowl is on - this sounds like a great idea. (Upper Crust Pizza on Charles Street: R U LISTENING?) Obviously, busy is busy,and, just as there needs to be someone to take your order, there needs to be someone to monitor the IMs (although it seems that the order entry can be pretty well automated, so that an online order could be immediately communicated to the kitchen crew). But the idea of not being placed on hold is very attractive. And with IM Dining you're likely to have greater assurance that your order is going to be right by being able to make the selections online, where there's less chance for human error and mis-hearing. ("I said my name was Dan Hovey, not that I wanted anchovies.")
I'm sure that there are plenty of kinks to be worked out - have "the young folks" already concocted all the abbreviations for fast food items and add-ons that they're going to need: Is TOMA tomato or Take Over My Arse (a term, I will admit, I had never heard until I went to look up IM for tomato. Plus I have no idea what it really means - hope it's not too vile.)
But all in all, this sounds like a good use of technology - and a recognition that, for many of those in their teens and twenties, IM is the preferred mode of communication. IM Dining exploits this trend.
LOL to Keith Nowak and his IM Dining product. (That's Lots of Luck, by the way, not Laugh Out Loud.)
Note: The source of information in this post is The Boston Globe.