Presto this week joins the growing list of companies offering restaurants deals on hardware and software solutions geared towards the off-premises model most businesses now have to employ to stay alive. In an email sent to The Spoon, the company said it is making its Presto Kiosk product “absolutely free” to restaurants.
Presto, which counts Denny’s, Outback Steakhouse, and Applebee’s among its clients, has up to now made a name for itself through products designed for the restaurant dining room, from wearable technology for servers to tabletop order and pay terminals for guests. However, with most dining rooms shut down now in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19, it makes sense Presto is now promoting its self-service kiosk, which is the most to-go friendly option of all its products.
Like other kiosks, Presto’s is a standalone device guests can use to browse a restaurant menu and order and pay for their items. The kiosk software integrates with a restaurant’s main POS system and, according to the company email, “enables guests to order and pay safely without requiring any interaction with the restaurant staff.”
The company says it is waiving the integration and deployment costs of these kiosks, which restaurants can use “without any contractual obligations,” and that the devices can be set up and running in a matter of days. Existing presto customers who use the company’s tabletop terminals will have access to a software update that can repurpose the devices for taking to-go orders.
The question is whether it will be enough to help Presto keep its footing in a restaurant industry that suddenly finds itself with no dine-in guests, no servers, and really no front of house at all. Presto doesn’t yet offer any devices geared towards delivery or drive-thru orders, so highlighting its kiosk option is the company’s one way to stay relevant in this era of social distancing.
Plus, takeout is starting to look a little risky as an order channel. Earlier this week, Starbucks announced it was getting rid of takeout as an option because of the amount of foot traffic it was causing in the store. In an even more drastic move, McDonald’s completely shuttered all its U.K. restaurants as well as 50 locations in the U.S. Wendy’s also discontinued takeout services this week. Since these massive chains tend to set the standards everyone else follows, it could be a matter of just days before other restaurant chains start getting rid of takeout options.
On the other hand, a device that enables contactless to-go orders might be the only thing saving some restaurants who have no drive-thru option and may not be able to pay Grubhub its 30 percent commission fee for each order.