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Hot apps

Once upon a time, restaurateurs on the go were mainly concerned with getting lighter and lighter laptops to ease their computing burden. Now we’re nearing the point when laptops can be left behind and business taken care of with nothing but a smartphone. What makes this possible is a growing crop of clever applications designed to tackle all sorts of business needs.

RoamBi Visualizer (iPhone)

You may not like spreadsheets, but you need them to track everything from inventory to sales. The free RoamBi Visualizer from MeLLmo works with Microsoft Excel files or Salesforce.com reports and presents the information in snappy-looking charts and graphs. View your figures, rearrange elements and customize colors—all on the go.

Seafood Watch (iPhone)

For eco-conscious restaurateurs with seafood on the menu, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s free Seafood Watch application is stocked with sustainable seafood information. You will get recommendations for best choices, reasonable alternatives and details to watch out for when picking out the catch of the day.


Employee scheduling is one task that needs to be attended to almost constantly. Users of HotSchedules, a Web-based restaurant employee scheduling solution, can hook right into iSchedule, the iPhone application version. Employees can check schedules, put in rescheduling requests and use the messaging system. A version for managers is on the way.

RM Monitor (iPhone)

It seems like a natural extension for restaurant POS systems to hook up with mobile applications. RM Monitor from Action Systems is an early example of this technology. Users of the Restaurant Manager POS system can get real-time access to current day summary data, get alerts, delve into details on open tables and tabs, track employee orders, check out hourly data and make historical comparisons.

Locale (Google)

A cell phone going off in a restaurant is an annoyance. Set a good example for your employees and customers by using Locale, an application that controls your phone’s behavior based on your location. Locale uses a combination of Wi-Fi, cellular positioning and GPS to keep track of adjustments to your ringtone, wallpaper and power settings. Set it to automatically go into silent mode when you’re at the restaurant.

Documents to Go (Google)

While we love to revel in the luxury of free mobile applications, this is one that is worth paying for. DataViz’s Documents to Go lets you access Microsoft and Adobe documents like Word files, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets and PDF files. The free version works as a basic viewer, but the full $24.99 version lets you edit files as well.

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