Rice Box employee Christel Giffen (right) brings out an order for customer Natalie Christie as part of the restaurant’s new drive-in service.

Rice Box employee Christel Giffen (right) brings out an order for customer Natalie Christie as part of the restaurant’s new drive-in service.

Rice Box revives drive-in service

Vernon's Rice Box restaurant adds customer convenience with drive-in service.

The Rice Box is rekindling the nostalgia of drive-in restaurant service with a technological twist.

On Ouchs, owner of the Vernon restaurant, has added a cell phone text-to-order service for added convenience for his clientele, all without an expensive move or redesign.

Orders by text go to a printer onsite, with just a 12-minute lead time needed. The fresh Asian food is prepared, packaged and brought right to the car along with a wireless debit/credit machine (cash is also accepted) to collect payment so the customer doesn’t have to leave the vehicle.

“For all concerned, text-to-order saves time and keeps costs down,” said Ouchs, adding customers who use the service avoid busy signals, on-hold delays, background noise and other bothers.

It also frees up Rice Box staff to focus on the food rather than taking and shouting orders through the kitchen din, and having to decipher one another’s speedy scrawls.

Ouchs said mothers and people with mobility issues might find the new service particularly convenient.

“Let’s face it, babies always fall asleep in the car at the wrong time,” said Jenna Hunter, a Rice Box customer. “Now my baby can nap and I can have dinner on the table with a simple text.”

Ouchs developed the technology to send orders quickly to the printer. His system is also set up to answer frequently asked questions through simple keywords. For instance, if a customer wants to find out restaurant’s operating hours, they only have to text the keyword “hours,” and a reply will soon follow.

Ouchs is currently working on Android and iPhone apps to include full menu and other conveniences. He expects that to be ready this spring.