In some restaurants already, text messaging is up and running. It provides restaurants instant contact with its customers. Check out this article in the Boston Globe that discusses the various technological innovations being used in restaurants around Boston.
I expect text message usage to become the norm, not because it may expedite service (which is a good incentive for customers) but because it paves the way for text message marketing (which every restaurant should covet). No, I do not see a future where you out of nowhere text a customer about a promotion. But imagine, on the bottom of a text message that they are already supposed to receive, (like when their table is ready, confirming their order, etc.) there is a promotion. It could point to something on the menu. It could be a discount offer only valid that day. The more outgoing and loyal customers may even want to know the latest about your restaurant regardless of whether they solicited the text or not.
Access to your customer’s phone can be deployed in many different ways and provides a medium for promotion that the customer isn’t likely to be ignored anytime soon (especially if it is attached to information that the customer requests). As restaurants and customers interact more and more through technology, it’s only a matter of time when text message marketing become one of the most instantaneous and flexible methods of restaurant marketing. For an example of text message marketing, see TXT180.com.