Have you ever been to a restaurant and wished the ordering process were more futuristic? Soon you'll be able to order right from your table at a local Chili's.
The Ziosk tabletop ordering system has been installed at Chili's locations in Hollywood and Homestead, along with 248 other locations across the United States as a pilot test. It will be available at a Chili's in Aventura within the next two months.
According to a Chili's spokesperson, the device is a supplemental tool used by the serving staff to better connect with guests. Chili's franchises are not required to employ the system. The spokesperson was adamant that this new technology cannot be used to order the entire meal. Servers at Chili's franchises will still first approach the table for the initial drink and food orders, as well as check IDs for alcohol orders. The devices will mainly be used for additional drink and dessert orders.
Want to get the check and leave quicker? Ask for the bill on the screen.
While customers eat at their table, the touchscreen tablet displays advertisements, food-and-drink specials, and touchpad games. It also has comprehensive descriptions of all the food items as well as video illustrations of specials. Kids (and bored adults) can pay 99 cents for various game applications.
According to a Hollywood Chili's server, the system has produced great results and helped the servers to upsell certain items. On a more practical level, the tablet also has an LED screen on the top that changes colors depending on the guest's needs. For instance, it might light up red if the guest needs a drink refill. It can call servers. Another benefit is that it allows guests to pay right at the table using a credit card slot attached to the tablet. This reduces the possibility of credit card fraud.
There have been issues. Older customers have struggled to get used to the newfangled technology. Parents have also complained their kids get too distracted by the constant lights and game ads. "Right now, the service does have some limitations in its application. But you gotta crawl before you can walk. Guests are having fun with it," the server said.
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Finally, when guests are finished with their meal, they can take the "GEM" survey to review the restaurant, service, food, etc.
Chili's is happy that the system will be expanding. "Ziosk is the industry leader in tabletop ordering and payment, and Chili's is glad to have them as a partner," the spokesperson said.
And, no, sci-fi fans, the machines will not take over humans. The Chili's spokesperson was adamant that the Ziosk tablets are a tool to be used by the server. Staff will not be reduced or replaced.