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Chili's to Install Tabletop Computer Screens

usa restaurant menu orders accept payments play videogames

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#1 Hum

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 22:40

Tabletop computer screens that take menu orders, accept payments by credit card and let diners play videogames are about to get much more common, changing how waiters and restaurant guests interact.

Chili's Grill & Bar, one of the largest casual-dining chains in the U.S., plans to announce Tuesday that it will install tabletop screens in most of its 1,266 U.S. restaurants by early next year. The chain owned by Brinker International Inc. (EAT) has been testing the devices since early this year. The screens, made by Dallas-based Ziosk LLC, are essentially tablet computers mounted to a sturdy base and loaded with pictures of menu items, as well as a credit-card swipe device and games that can be played for 99 cents at Chili's.

Restaurant-goers who dine at tables with the devices often spend more per check, because they tend to buy more desserts and coffee when the screen is present, said Krista Gibson, senior vice president of brand strategy for Chili's. Pictures of desserts pop up on the screen midway through the main course, when people start to think about what they will eat next, Ms. Gibson said. Dessert sales increased almost 20% in tests, she said, and coffee sales also rose when featured in a similar way. Chili's is also considering promoting alcoholic beverages during meals, Ms. Gibson said.

For now, Chili's customers can't order an entire meal or a first round of drinks on the device. The machines didn't prompt any job reductions among waiters, Ms. Gibson said. "We never pursued this as a way to cut labor," she said, adding that a server needs to be "the first person who comes in contact with our guests."

About 50% of diners choose to pay via the machine when it is part of a table, likely because they dislike waiting for a check when they are ready to leave, Ms. Gibson said.

Chili's also is able to gather additional data about its customers when the screens are present, Ms. Gibson said. More people are willing to provide their email addresses and answer survey-style questions at the end of a meal, she said.

Ziosk is one of several companies pitching tabletop devices for restaurants. The devices enable diners to order and pay for their meals, and sometimes flash ads or offer entertainment to diners for a fee. Midtier and higher-end restaurants have been careful to maintain personal interaction between diners and waiters. Some higher-end restaurants, for instance, use tablet computers to give detailed descriptions of wines, but not to take orders or allow diners to pay. But at least one device maker said restaurants with tabletop screens could hire slightly fewer servers or reduce the hours of wait-staff employees.

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#2 DocM

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 23:04

No doubt at least partly in response to the push for $15/hr wait staff.

#3 shozilla

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 23:09

Cool.  I eat there once a while.



#4 OP Hum

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 23:21

Now if you could only surf Neowin .... :shifty:



#5 shozilla

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 23:31

Now if you could only surf Neowin .... :shifty:

 

I hope so... but I guess the web may be blocked... we will see. Only let us to play games and charge the bill via tabletop.



#6 sava700

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 23:34

I like the idea but .99cents to play a game or whatever is stupid, the games should be free to mess with while you wait on food if you wish to do that. This only invites chaos for parents that bring kids that will whine and cry to just play a game while there which will now disturb the others that are there to have a nice quiet night out to eat.

 

SO either make them free to play or don't put them on there at all.



#7 shozilla

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 23:38

I like the idea but .99cents to play a game or whatever is stupid, the games should be free to mess with while you wait on food if you wish to do that. This only invites chaos for parents that bring kids that will whine and cry to just play a game while there which will now disturb the others that are there to have a nice quiet night out to eat.

 

SO either make them free to play or don't put them on there at all.

 

back in the 80's, the videogames were about .25 cents to $1....  and some had token machines which you exchange money for tokens.



#8 BetaAddict

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 02:00

No doubt at least partly in response to the push for $15/hr wait staff.

 

In the article they say that it doesn't really cut down on staff at all, which I actually believe is the truth and not just typical corporate PR talk. The screens mainly improve efficiency of there service like speeding up ordering or pressing a button to call the waiter, but doesn't eliminate the need for the waiter to come to the table to the help with ordering and making recommendations or bringing food/drinks to the table.



#9 JRmpls

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Posted 17 September 2013 - 02:11

My local Chili's has these and they're pretty cool.  Definitely worth the $.99 to keep the kids quiet while we wait for dinner.   And the ability to swipe your card at the table and leave when you're done is great... one of my biggest peeves about restaurants is how they keep you waiting for the check at the end with a couple of kids who can't sit still.