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You can also play games on the tablets for about a dollar

Applebee's thinks waiting for the check at a restaurant is much like being held hostage, and it wants to change that by deploying tablets at every table. 

According to USA Today, casual dining chain Applebee's is planning to put tablets at each of its tables throughout all 1,865 locations nationally by the end of 2014. 

More specifically, Applebee's is rolling out 100,000 tablets total. The tablets will be provided by hardware and software provider E la Carte, and they will have 7-inch screens.

The idea behind the tablet deployment is to engage with customers in a way that's easy and convenient for them. For instance, if a customer wants to pay the bill and doesn't feel like waiting for the waiter/waitress, they can use the tablet to do so. 

"Who hasn't felt like they've been held hostage waiting for a check to arrive?" said Mike Archer, president of Applebee's.

The tablets can also be used to order additional food like appetizers and desserts. However, it won't be a full menu, and it won't replace existing menus. It will simply help with ordering any extras the customer might want while a waiter or waitress continues to take meal orders. 

In fact, Archer said that certain Applebee's restaurants that are testing the devices have seen increased appetizer and dessert sales. 

Applebee's is also looking to gain some tech cred with the younger generations by offering these tablets. In addition to ordering food and paying the bill, the tablets offer games customers can play for about a dollar.

The restaurant chain isn't too worried about tablet theft, either. Once these devices leave the restaurant, they're pretty much useless. 

Chili's, another casual dining chain, recently deployed tablets as well. It plans to cover 800 restaurants by the middle of next year.

Source: USA Today

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RE: The Future
By JasonMick on 12/3/2013 12:22:32 PM , Rating: 1
I don't see anything wrong with receiving pay based on performance. And for every IHOP waiter that would love a steady salary there's a good waiter out there at a nice restaurant that would lose a large amount of money if tips were eliminated. Do your job well and you can make a lot of money as a waiter. When one has 3-4 tables and each table is an average of $150 per meal and you provide excellent service you're looking at, conservatively, $45-$60/hour. And that's if the people are cheap.
I'm not saying that.

What I'm saying is that if a robot or table-side application COULD do the job of a highly experienced, knowledgeable waiter then there's no need for that waiter. I don't think they currently can.

Until then, there WILL BE a need for that waiter, at least in classy establishments. As for IHOP and Applebees -- maybe not.

My point is that automation in and of itself and vocational shifts shouldn't be feared, but at the same time we must consider the limitations of current technology and not shift prematurely to automation, damaging customer service in the process.

I think because of the problem of correcting orders and suggesting food based on customer feedback (not just canned, management-ordered responses), you really need a softbot with a pretty sophisticated AI. We're not there yet, but in a decade or two I bet we will be.

At that point for better or worse, expect the market to shift to automated "waitstaff".

RE: The Future
By Labotomizer on 12/3/2013 5:13:31 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, I don't think it can replace even a fair wait staff. It could easily replace a bad wait staff though.

Jack in the Box near my house has the option of ordering at the counter or using the touch screen. Guess which one I pick? Faster, easier and less interaction with stupid people every time.

Many low end sit down chains don't employ much better and if I could eliminate my dependence on them and the tip at the same time I'd be all for it. I doubt it will make their food any better but at least I won't be irritated by the person coming to my table.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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