Here's a new thing in receipts that is actually also incredibly old-school: Old Ebbitt Grill, a Washington, DC restaurant, is now printing up receipts with news updates from the Associated Press. General manager Christian Guidi explains that a regular had approached the longtime Washington restaurant — first established in 1856 and a late-night oyster mainstay for tourists and Washingtonians alike — about being a guinea pig for this Micros-based system, now quietly underway for a couple of months. Servers hand the "Latest News" headline slip with 10-12 of the biggest AP stories of the moment to customers along with their check or, upon request, at any point in the meal.
Guidi explains that Old Ebbitt decided to jump aboard with the program because, aside from paper usage, the restaurant just didn't see any negatives. He says the restaurant is "always looking for ways to add unique value" and that the news slips might be entertaining to some guests during the dead time between receiving their check and a server processing payment. Also, since the receipts can also be shared, he says, "It's a talking point. It's something that is there to provide value to the people that want it and for the people that don't, it doesn't get in the way."
So, uh, why is such a service needed in the time of smart phones? Guidi notes that Old Ebbitt is located just a block away from the White House in a city where "you get a lot of people that are news-hungry" and want or need to know the latest news updates. Old Ebbitt is a pretty old-school place, and while phones are permitted and they do have TVs in the bar area, Guidi explains that not everyone necessarily wants to hit up their Blackberries for news at the table.
Of course, like everything in print journalism, they needed some advertisers and a paper company named Domtar currently serves as the preliminary advertiser — printing the words, "Paper is Good. Pass it On" at the bottom of each news blast. As a press release says "If successful, this will create a new channel to disseminate news and advertising to millions of readers on an existing platform never used for this purpose."
Though right now the service is limited to Old Ebbitt, the plan seems to be to roll this out to other restaurants that use the Micros ordering system. The press release indicates that headlines will vary depending on the interests of each city's clientele and Guidi says that the creators had approached Old Ebbitt to serve as guinea pigs, saying, "If you guys can make it work then we'll know it'll work." And, indeed, Guidi says some guests do really like the news updates and even request them. So, news headline receipts: the brave new-old future?
· Famous DC Restaurant Serves AP Headlines [PrintSignal via Poynter]
· All Receipts Coverage on Eater [-E-]
[Image: Print Signal]