Lion and Rose Pub Caters to the Disabled with Talking Menus

By James MacKay, Vice President of Operations, The Lion & Rose Pub | August 10, 2008

At The Lion and Rose Pub (www.thelionandrose.com), a British-style restaurant and pub based in San Antonio, Texas, we're always on the lookout for something new; be it a special food offering, an exotic beer, or an exciting technology. 

Last year, Allen Tharp, CEO and founder of The Lion and Rose, was looking for a technology that would provide us with a solution for reading menus during low-lit evenings inside the restaurant, and provide better options for vision-impaired guests. In December 2007, Tharp introduced a new technology to the restaurant developed by Menus That Talk (www.menusthattalk.com) out of Miami, Florida. Designed with the vision-impaired in mind, Menus That Talk is a portable handheld device that describes the contents of a restaurant's menu.

Interactive options
The device is approximately the size of a DVD case. Lighted buttons highlight customizable menu categories. When a button is pressed, a voice transmission describes the entry to the guest. For the visually impaired, buttons are also identified in braille. The menus are small enough for ease of storage and large enough to allow for a generous keyboard complete with the restaurant's logo, braille buttons (with standard wording as well), a removable speaker with volume control for private listening, and a port for interfacing with Telecoil-equipped hearing aids. The devices also stand up well to the rigors of daily restaurant use.

The Lion and Rose menu is displayed by category on the device; it includes everything from appetizers, sandwiches, steaks and seafood, to imported beers from around the world. The guest chooses a button on the device, prompting an audio list of offerings in that category. In the case of the Lion and Rose, a British woman's voice interprets the menu, but both male and female voice actors work with Menus That Talk, depending on the customer's needs.

Repeat business
On the day the menus were introduced, the Alamo Council for the Blind was meeting at one of our pubs. The Alamo Council was so excited about the concept and the restaurant's commitment to their comfort that they chose to pass a resolution to hold all subsequent meetings at The Lion and Rose.

Since their introduction, the menus continue to delight guests daily. Children enjoy the novelty of listening to their menu rather than reading it, while young and old alike appreciate the convenience of a menu that works in low light or when reading glasses are forgotten at home. As the population ages, more and more guests will continue to appreciate the accommodation of a technology like this.

The Lion and Rose adds more corporate pubs in San Antonio, and franchise locations across the country, Tharp expects his use of technology like Menus That Talk will help his young chain stay ahead of the competition.

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