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