If there's any doubt that technology kills jobs (perhaps replacing them, but with jobs inaccessible to the employees who lost their own jobs), consider that Applebees is on its way to eliminating the waitperson with a tablet that gives the kitchen your order. For now, wait staff will still deliver the food and drink, but I'm sure it'll have an effect on tips.

One pundit quipped that the food could be delivered byk something like Amazon's drones. More likely, a robotic rolling food delivery cart could handle delivering food.

Do you see this as the wave of the future in restaurants? Read more [Admin edit: no blind links full story below.] 

Applebee's to serve tablets at every table


That endless wait for the restaurant check soon may be over.

Applebee's, the nation's largest casual dining chain, on Tuesday will announce plans to place tablets at every table in every one of its U.S. restaurants by the end of 2014. Folks can use the tablets to pay whenever they want -- and to order things like appetizers, desserts or even play video games.

The action follows a similar move by rival Chili's, which already has begun the process of placing tablets at its company-owned locations. IHOP, also owned by Applebee's parent, DineEquity, is looking into tablets, too.

The way Americans pay for and order food when eating out is about to be turned on its head. If these high-tech moves — already common at eateries in parts of Europe and Asia — are a hit domestically, much of the $70 billion full-service and casual dining industry is expected to follow.

"Looking out over the next decade, it will become fairly routine for consumers in table service restaurants to use tablets to view menus, place orders and pay bills," says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association.

Tablets will "change the way we interact with guests in restaurants," says Mike Archer, president of Applebee's, which has 1,865 locations nationally. The chain's move to roll out nearly 100,000 tablets will rank among the largest-ever rollout of tablet technology in the private sector.

At Applebee's and Chili's, customers will continue to order their meals via waiters and waitresses. The move to tablets squarely targets Millennials, says Riehle, more than 80% of whom say they fully expect restaurants to offer improved technologies.

Chili's president Wyman Roberts, says its restaurants with the devices have seen improvements in both guest satisfaction and customer "engagement," though the company declined to discuss details of its ongoing rollout. Its 800 company-owned restaurants all will have tablets by the middle of next year.

At both chains, the tablets have 7-inch screens, which are larger than most cellphones but smaller than most conventional tablets.

But will this make eating-out better for customers?

One hospitality expert isn't so sure. "Other than the coolness factor, what benefits will it have over the long term?" poses Christopher Muller, hospitality professor at Boston University.

Archer insists there will be many. Besides making the paying of bills and additional ordering easier, he says, customers can play games for about a buck. The 50 Applebee's restaurants that have tested the devices have seen boosts in appetizer and dessert sales, he says.

Theft of the devices has not been an issue, Archer notes, because the tablets are unusable once removed from the restaurant.

Applebee's opted not to use the tablets as menu replacements. Customers still will be handed individual menus, Archer says.

Most importantly, he notes, guests will no longer have to wait around for their checks. 'Who hasn't felt like they've been held hostage waiting for a check to arrive?" he says

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Most people don't dine out just for the food, but the experience.  I would hate to go to a nice restaurant be served by a drone cart.

I think most people would agree.

If a few restaurants do it...ever so slowly it will become a part of the 'dining experience' to have your food delivered through a plastic case that could possibly be on rails - Maybe when it finally arrives at your table, you just simply lift open the door and pull the food out yourself - then send it back into the case s it can be sent back to the kitchen...

Exactly like the bank drive thru's where you receive and send the money through a tube.

I could potentially see this as an exciting event as well - The server could still take drink orders, be there for you and talk to you - But the food is delivered and sent back through a rail system.  

I'm not that familiar with sushi restaurants (seafood allergies which are worse when the seafood is raw) but my impression is that while some are just a counter with the chef(s) on the other side, some of them have a sort of conveyor belt delivering food, so automation is not totally new.

It doesn't really deliver the food, it's more of a buffet that moves around you instead of the other way around. If you see something you like, then grab it, You're charged by the number of plates you take.

With out a doubt, it will be the wave of the future for restaurant delivery.

The main issue and concern I have is how the copter will be able navigate tree's, telephone poles and the wires they carry, lets not forget wind gusts. I myself have a quad copter and one of the main issues with quad copters is the wind factor. A little breeze and they can be taken away or pushed into an object that could do damage to property or the quad itself. 

I feel a few of them falling out of the sky and hitting something or someone could be a reason why they may get banned or severely restricted. Let's not forget in addition that people will try to capture them and or shoot them down to get the small (or very expensive) reward that they carry. 

I think there are too many issues, many of which you've discussed in your post. They also have so much potential for terrorism and breaches of privacy that I think they will ultimately be banned (not that that will stop the bad guys). 

Ugh. I am going to be that 80 year old lady complaining about how much better we had it in the old days when unskilled laborers could earn a living by delivering you food. The kids'll be like, 'Nobody cares about the poor' and 'what's food?'

Genghis Grill is already using menu tablets. I'm not sure about anyone else, but I tipped my server generously for explaining the different dishes, the excellent suggestions, the speedy service, including keeping my drink topped off, which I tend to make a chore of for any server. Just because Technology is making waiting tables easier, doesn't mean having your plate flown to your table by a drone is a good idea, even though it would be kinda cool.

The Food Service industry isn't in any immediate danger of being robotized. Fast food restaurants already use partially automated cooking lines that really take the soul out of the food. I'll pass up an IHOP for a Waffle House or similar diner every time. Sit down, human run restaurants will always have a following, and will always have a place in society, because food isn't just nutrition, it's art. As the Italians say, "Live to eat, don't eat to live."

A good human waiter or waitress can make a meal more of an enjoyable experience...in those cases I tip well.

Unfortunately that doesn't happen much anymore, I think the skill is becoming a lost art.

Let's be realistic. Ruth's Chris or Morton's Steakhouse will have human waitstaff for the foreseeable future. Chili's, Red Robin, and their ilk are the most likely to make the switch.


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