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When the Seasons 52 restaurant opened earlier this year, it turned to Wi-Fi technology to beef up the all-important server-to-guest relationship.

Specifically, the Orlando, Fla., restaurant was ready to go with a wireless network and handhelds that let waiters and waitresses record orders and close checks table-side.

“In the hospitality business, we know that computers can never replace server-to-guest interaction,” said Rick Cardenas, director of IT for Seasons 52. “However, the handhelds increase the time our servers spend with our guests table-side and help us provide outstanding service in our restaurant.”

But Seasons 52, operated by Darden Restaurants Inc., had help cooking up its wireless strategy.

Ameranth Wireless, of San Diego, for instance, is Darden’s standard wireless point-of-sale partner. Darden operates more than 1,280 restaurants (including the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains), employs 122,000 people and serves more than 5 million meals a week.

“While we provided some of the key pieces of the Seasons 52 solution, we met the overall challenge through the power of our best-of-breed strategic partners,” said Keith McNally, CEO of Ameranth Wireless.

Key partners on the project included point-of-sale software developer Aloha Technologies Inc., handheld provider Symbol Technologies Inc., wireless ink-jet printer maker TransAct Technologies Inc. and on-premises paging specialist JTech Communications Inc.

The resulting system is functional and flexible. And for good reason: Seasons 52 is test-marketing a rotating weekly menu with seasonal food prepared in a variety of ways. Waiters and waitresses who can’t keep track of the menu need merely reach for their Pocket PCs.