Either with initial checks, coffee or dessert, diners are being handed a separate ‘news receipt’ with the latest headlines from the Associated Press. The update is called ‘The Latest News.’
The idea is to see if news updates will serve as a customer amenity and leverage thousands of existing restaurant printers as a new worldwide printing press.
The ‘news receipts’ will deliver the top of the current news, particularly events that broke during the diner’s meal.
If successful, this will create a new channel to disseminate news and advertising to millions of readers on an existing platform never used for this purpose.
The printed updates have several advantages in this venue over the smartphone, providing access to the news without people becoming absorbed in their devices at the same time contributing to table conversation and interaction.
The news updates come through the restaurant’s MICROS Systems software, set to inject an updated summary into the servers’ work stations every two minutes. MICROS, headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, has its services in more than 330,000 restaurants in 50 countries.
Revenues will come from advertisers wanting to reach restaurant diners with an innovative, eye-catching way to deliver the news.
The initial advertiser is Domtar, one of the world’s largest paper manufacturers, which has been running an offshoot of its award-winning "PaperBecause" message promoting the use of paper. It tells Ebbitt diners: "Paper is Good. Pass it On" and displays its www.paperbecause.com Internet address.
Print Signal Corp., a startup launched to run the business, will select AP headlines that are of particular interest to host sites in each city.
"This idea will marry the speed of the Internet with the power of paper," said Frank Mankiewicz, Hill+Knowlton Strategies Vice Chairman (ret.) and former NPR president, who helped start the venture. "The news can be targeted to every host city in English or the country’s native language."
Peter J. Rogers, Jr., Executive Vice President, Investor Relations and Business Development at MICROS, said "We were asked to consider three ingredients: how the news industry is looking for new ways to disseminate its news, how advertisers are searching for innovative ways to cut through the clutter, and the fact that MICROS supports a worldwide fleet of printers reaching millions of readers."
"Just like the Old Ebbitt Grill has long been influential in Washington, so has paper," said Kathy Wholley, Director of Advertising & Communications for Domtar. "And just like the presidents, dignitaries and celebrities who continue to dine in the Old Ebbitt, this project will help educate and entertain customers, stimulating conversation and showing one of the reasons paper continues to be so vital."
"It’s a creative idea and we’re always happy to see novel new ways to give consumers the most up-to-date and most accurate news," said Sue Cross, AP’s Senior Vice President for Business Development and Partnerships, Americas.
"We’ve got thousands of news-hungry Washingtonians coming to lunch, so we’re giving The Latest News a shot," said the Ebbitt’s Managing Director, David Moran. "If this works at the Old Ebbitt, it just might sweep across the world."