10 must-have iPad apps for restaurant operators

Aug. 26, 2011 | by Nash Sherchan

Restaurant owners are discovering the power of iPads and have started using them to make their operations efficient. The good news is that you, too, can use them to help make your business more productive; the iPad can be an invaluable and powerful tool for your restaurant business.

The iPad has more useful and free apps than laptops and netbooks. Obviously, there are also paid apps that you can buy for more advanced features required for your specific business needs. However you'd be surprised to know that some of them also offer "light" versions of the app for free before you make your decision to buy the paid version.

Below are 10 free apps that you can download right now and start using to help make you more efficient while running your restaurant operation – from the road, your office, or a hammock on a tropical beach. I have personally used them and am confident about recommending them. I hope they'll be helpful to you in your personal and business life.

  1. Pulse News for iPad
  2. HootSuite for Twitter
  3. Google Search
  4. Evernote
  5. Microsoft OneNote
  6. Dropbox
  7. Adobe Photoshop Express
  8. Calculator for iPad
  9. Popplet Lite
  10. Kindle

Pulse News for iPad - Pulse is an amazing app that lets you add all your favorite websites and blogs into one place and organize them into a colorful and interactive mosaic. It turns your news story into to a clean and elegant format that is visually appealing to your eyes. It really makes a wonderful reading experience. You can also easily share your favorite content on your facebook page and Twitter feed.

HootSuite for Twitter - Among many apps, I found Hootsuite for Twitter to be very simple to use and powerful for personal or business use. Though it has a paid version for multi -account users, you'd be delighted to know that even the scaled-down version of the paid version is powerful enough to manage up to three accounts . You'll be tweeting and retweeting to your heart's content. Another popular feature that you're gonna like is the ability to schedule tweets and Facebook status updates, track clicks and set up columns to manage custom searches.

Google Search – Google Search is the mobile application that gets you the most advanced Google search experience for your iPhone, iPod or iPad. It even allows you to search for anything by speaking into your iPhone or iPad. If you use any of Google's office suite (Calendar, Docs, Maps, etc.) get Google Search to easily view and also access Google products like Gmail, Youtube and Voice from the app tabs. You'll love the one-click access.

Evernote – Winner of the Best Mobile App Award from TechCrunch, Mashable and the Webby's, Evernote is a fabulous app that acts like an extension of your brain, helping you to remember everything that happens in your personal and business life. The best part that I like about this app is that it is searchable. Whenever you come up with great ideas for your restaurant, you can quickly and easily dump them into your digital brain for future use if you don't see the idea applicable at the very moment. When the idea strikes back again for you to implement into your business you can simply do a search and find your ideas whether it was on note, photo or voice recordings. Even if you jot down your notes on the road via iPhone, you'd be able to access them from any devices as it instantly synchronizes via iPad or Mac or Windows desktop.

Microsoft OneNote – Microsoft OneNote, similar to Evernote, is another easy to use note- taking application for capturing all your ideas and to-dos on the go. If you like using Windows products this application might be for you. Though it's specifically designed for iPhone, it works also for iPad. (Hope Microsoft will release the iPad version later in the future) Since most of us use Microsoft Word the advantage of using this application is that it's compatible with all the notebooks created in Microsoft OneNote 2010 or the OneNote Web app. It also has search functionality, and you can search any notes with text and pictures. However to use this application, you must open a free window live ID. You can then keep your notes in order using free windows Live SkyDrive cloud storage to access, edit and manage them from virtually anywhere, from your PC or almost any Web browser.

Dropbox - Dropbox is a virtual storage for your documents that resides in the cloud and is accessible from anywhere. As a restaurant owner there are several documents like forms, contracts, or any useful information about your restaurant business, that you'll need on a constant basis. After you install Dropbox on your computer, it'll allow you to save any file automatically to all your computers, iPhone and iPad and even the Dropbox website. That means, with the Dropbox app, you can take every useful document wherever you go.

Adobe Photoshop Express – Adobe Photoshop Express lets you edit and share your photos from your mobile device whether it's from your iPhone or iPad. To attract customers, you know it's very important to display the photos of any food and beverage via Facebook or twitter. Once you take the photo on your iPhone while in the restaurant, you can edit it right then and there by choosing from a variety of one-touch effects, such as cropping or adjusting the color. You'd be amazed how simple and easy it is to use.

I wouldn't be surprised if your customers salivate and come running to your restaurant asking for the same dessert or entree that they saw on your Facebook fan page. If you need free storage for your photos or videos, you can even create an account on photoshop.com to upload and store 2GB of photos and videos online.

Calculator for iPad Free – Every restaurant business requires a calculator, but why spend money to buy one? You get one free by downloading the app- "Calculator for iPad Free". You'll be able to handle any mathematical calculation needed for your business with this simple app. Downloading the app will allow you to get rid of an extra device.

Popplet Lite – Popplet is a great app for planning and brainstorming ideas. As a business owner you come up with great ideas for your restaurant,and sometimes you might need to discuss it with your business partners or collaborate with others to accomplish your project. This app lets you quickly create diagrams, process charts to illustrate your thoughts and ideas. Popplet Lite is a free version. It also has a paid version if you need more advanced features.

Kindle - As restaurant entrepreneurs you are reading books, newspapers, and magazines about business to keep up to date with the restaurant industry and market trends. By downloading the free kindle app you have access to more than 950, 000 in the Kindle store, plus more than 100 newspapers and magazines for purchase. The iPad does everything the Kindle does, soo why buy another reading device like Kindle when you can get pretty much the same thing on your iPad?

Restaurant owners have just begun to tap the entire power of the iPad and are experimenting with apps to help run their business more effectively and efficiently. Apps developers are building amazing apps every day. No doubt, there will be thousands of new apps in the future that will change how restaurant businesses operate.

Don't wait

Don't wait to "know it all" before you start using the iPad for your restaurant. You are an expert on your restaurant business, so figure out in which areas your iPad can help you streamline your operation. Start gradually, and then expand as you feel more comfortable.

Today, you may be just using iPad for emails and reading your favorite news sites and blogs. But tomorrow, who knows -- you may be running your multi-million-dollar restaurant empire, all from a 1.5-pound iPad.

What apps do you use to help run your business? Leave your comments below.

Topics: Online / Mobile / Social , Online Services , Operations Management

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