Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tableside Computer Tablets Add Speed, Entertainment to Restaurant Dining

That computer tablet you’re holding in your hand could be coming to a restaurant table near you.

An increasing number of food establishments are turning to technology to add some spark to their service. Well-known restaurant chains like Chili’s Bar & Grill and Applebee’s, as well as smaller eateries across the United States, are incorporating tableside touchscreen tablets so customers can order drinks, appetizers, desserts or even their entire meal.

With the unlimited aspect of technology, restaurants can offer more detailed menu descriptions and nutritional information.

Another use for the tablets is quick payment, as diners can swipe their credit card themselves.

Not only is this mobile technology being used to speed up ordering, but it is also providing a means of entertainment for customers. Diners can tap into sports shows or listen to music while they are eating or awaiting their food. It’s a more personalized approach to the televisions you see hanging around many sports bars.

Other entertaining features include interactive games for adults and children. That means, instead of a ubiquitous pack of crayons, kids could use a touchscreen tablet to play connect the dots, conduct a word search or paint a picture.

Restaurants are utilizing these tablets in a variety of ways, including setting up special kiosks or simply providing handheld devices to patrons. Both options seem to be getting positive feedback from clientele.

However, not everyone is sold on the idea. Detractors are worried about the effect these tablets will have on waiters and waitresses, including whether jobs will be lost in the name of technology.

Other concerns revolve around the dining experience itself, as some opponents decry the solitary nature of these handheld devices. After all, “eating out” is typically a social endeavor. Will that camaraderie be lost if guests have their noses buried in a tablet?

Regardless of debate, it seems that tableside tablets are the trend du jour. Tech companies like MenuPad, Ziosk and E La Carte are striking more deals with restaurants across the United States, so don’t be surprised to be working with one of these devices the next time you stop in at your favorite dining spot. 

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