• Tablets at the Table

Recently, I went with some friends to Red Robin, the burger restaurant in Wilkes-Barre up by the Mohegan Sun Arena.  When we sat down, we discovered they had added tablets to their tables.  There were three basic things you could do with them: order appetizers, play games, and pay for your check with a card.  As someone who’s worked in a restaurant for a number of years, I didn’t really know how I felt about the presence of a tablet at the dining table.  On one hand, I see the immediate benefits: faster service and table turnover, the ability to have the guests split their own checks (hooray!), and sure, entertainment purposes.  Diners might also order more food if that option is available to them with just a tap on a screen, instead of waiting for the server to return before they can place an order for another plate of sweet potato fries. (Yum.)  But on the flip side, I feel like we spend so much time with technology already… do we really need it at the table as well?  And tipping is always a concern: are diners going to tip their server less because they feel like a computer did more work?  I would hope not, because there’s so many behind-the-scenes details to waiting tables that you may be unaware of your server doing.  Here’s an interesting article from Tech Crunch about incorporating tablets into the dining experience at restaurants:

“As technology becomes increasingly embedded in every aspect of a consumer’s life, from a smart home to the smart phone in people’s pockets, there are certain public spaces which have been slow to adapt to the change that’s happening around them, according to E la Carte chief executive Rajat Suri. Restaurants have been late adopters, when it comes to bringing tech into the dining experience, he says, but that’s about to change.”

The company’s “Presto” tablets allow diners to order and pay for food at their table, which Suri says enables waiters to concentrate more on the customer experience. Restaurants which have installed the company’s tablets have seen a roughly 5% increase in sales and an increase in table turnover of up to 7 to 10 minutes. So diners are spending more, and leaving faster — something that’s vitally important to both the rising fast-casual restaurant chains that are taking over the country and the local mom and pop shops that want to compete with them.

“Restaurants are a tough business,” says Suri. “for them to be able to increase sales is key.”

Do you think tablets belong at the dining table?


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