DEVICE AND SYSTEM FOR PRESENTING
AND FACILITATING PAYMENT OF A
FIELD OF THE INVENTION 5
The present invention relates to presenting customers with a restaurant bill, more specifically it relates to a device and system for presenting and facilitating payment of a restaurant bill. 10
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
A restaurant bill is typically presented to a patron in a billfold. The billfold is typically made using two pieces of stiff cardboard or plastic covered in a flexible vinyl or leather covering. Optionally, the billfold may include some soft padding material between the stiff cardboard or plastic and the flexible outer covering. A hinge, made from the same 2Q flexible vinyl or leather material used to cover the cardboard or plastic, attaches the two pieces. The billfold may be opened and closed like a book, and include a number of interior pockets for holding a variety of items including: the bill, cash, a credit card, a pen etc. The billfold is thin enough 25 to allow a waitperson to carry numerous billfolds in apron pockets or pant pockets. The thin feature of the billfolds allows a waitperson to carry a billfold for each table that the waitperson is servicing. The billfold is very commonly used, and when people dine out, they have come to expect their 3Q bill to be presented to them in a billfold.
It is very common for people to eat out at restaurants in groups. When a waitperson takes a group's order, they will typically take the order and assume that only one bill should be presented to the group and let the group sort out payment, 35 unless the group notifies the waitperson otherwise. The process of sorting out what each member of the group should pay, for items they ordered and also gratuity is cumbersome. In some cases, sorting through payment of a bill may even result in socially uncomfortable and embarrassing situations. 40 For example, if the group decides to divide the bill evenly, one member of the group may object, because their order was substantially less expensive than other members of the group. As another example, one member of the group may have a policy of leaving only a small amount of gratuity, 45 whereas other members of the group may have a policy of leaving a generous amount of gratuity. This could lead to an embarrassing situation of trying to encourage a member of the group to leave a larger amount of gratuity. These situations complicate the payment of a restaurant bill. 50
From a restaurant's perspective, accepting a number of payments for a single bill is also inefficient. People pay restaurant bills using a variety of payment methods including cash and credit or debit cards. Presently, if a group of patrons decides to divide a bill, a waitperson may have to 55 process a variety of payment forms. For example, some members of a group may pay in cash while other members of the group may pay using credit or debit cards. In this situation, a waitperson must go to the table to get instructions from the patrons for processing the various payment 60 methods. The waitperson must then go to a central location where credit or debit cards may be processed, and a cash register can be accessed to retrieve appropriate change for those patrons paying in cash. The waitperson must then return to the table with credit or debit card receipts for 65 signature by those patrons paying with credit or debit cards, and return the appropriate change to those patrons paying in
cash. This time consuming process may be particularly inefficient when a restaurant is very busy and/or short staffed.
What is needed is a device that generally has the appearance of a billfold, with which patrons and waitpersons are familiar, but that allows for efficient payment of a bill, including dividing payment among members of a group of patrons.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In one aspect, the present invention is directed at a device for presenting and facilitating payment of a restaurant bill. The device includes a computing system and a billfold. Advantageously, the use of the billfold allows the device to seem familiar to both waitpersons and patrons. The computing system includes at least a memory for storing computer executable instructions, a processing unit for executing the instructions, a display for displaying information to patrons and a magnetic strip reader to allow input of credit/debit card information by patrons.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 shows a conventional billfold used to present restaurant bills to patrons.
FIG. 2 shows a device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention that is used to present and facilitate payment of restaurant bills.
FIG. 3 shows a computing system that may be used to implement embodiments of the present invention.
FIG. 4 shows another device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention that is used to present and facilitate payment of restaurant bills.
FIG. 5 shows another device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention that is used to present and facilitate payment of restaurant bills.
FIG. 6 shows a flow chart that illustrates a method of paying a restaurant bill in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.
FIG. 7A-7H show screens that may be displayed to implement one embodiment of the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE
The present invention provides for a device resembling a billfold for presenting and processing a bill for payment by restaurant patrons. The present invention has the appearance of a typical billfold that patrons and waitpersons are familiar with for presenting restaurant bills. Additionally, the present invention provides for a system and method that facilitates payment of a restaurant bill by a group of patrons, including the ability to split the payment of a bill among the group of patrons.
FIG. 1 shows a conventional billfold 100 used to present a bill to restaurant patrons. The billfold 100 includes a first flap 102 and a second flap 104 that are connected by hinge 106. The billfold also includes pockets 108 and 110. As is well known in the art, flaps 102 and 104 are typically made using a piece of stiff material, such as plastic or cardboard that is covered with a flexible material. Some common flexible materials used to make billfolds include leather, vinyl and textile materials made from polyester or natural fibers. The two flaps are hingedly connected by hinge 106, so that the two flaps open and close like a book. In its simplest form, hinge 106 may be a piece of the flexible