Daniella Sannuti, Contributing writer
Whether it is making a cell phone into a handheld computer or a tablet that replaces hardcover books, advancements in technology seem to be taking over our society. One of the most recent technological developments will change how we order food while out to dinner. Chili’s, a large chain restaurant, has been using tablets that are given to customers so they have the power to place orders or even pay their bill at the table. Soon, these tablets will turn into tabletop screens and replace the usual cotton tablecloth.
Tabletop computer screens seem to have a large array of benefits for the consumer. Not only can you order off the menu, but you can pay the bill instantly with a credit card and play games that cost 99 cents. While sitting at dinner, pictures of food from the menu will be flashing before the customers eyes. Although ordering a whole meal isn’t available now, it may be in the future. Other casual-style chain restaurants, such as Applebee’s, are also testing out the tabletop screens.
Although these screens seem to contain a wide range of advantages for consumers, it seems that the corporation itself is getting the best deal. According to Krista Gibson, the senior vice president of brand strategy for Chili’s, people who dine at these tabletop screens are most likely to spend more money per check. While sitting and eating, restaurant-goers have the chance to view pictures of desserts and coffee, prompting them to think about adding on more to their meal. During the trial period, dessert and coffee sales increased by 20 percent. In addition to getting people to buy more at dinner, corporations could make money by decreasing staff. Although they promise that the amount of waitstaff will not decrease, device makers said they would be able to hire fewer servers or reduce the hours of employees. In a time where jobs are already scarce, the food industry could potentially be cutting even more jobs. Another concern regarding these tabletop screens will be how they affect diners socially. Already, smartphones are taking over the social lives of people. It is hard to survey a restaurant and find a table where someone isn’t on their cell phone. If people have a hard enough time socializing without their smart phones, how will they concentrate on dinner with a life size tablet as their tablecloth?
The food industry is constantly trying to revamp their restaurants by making items more popular or offering specials. These new tabletop designs can majorly change the food industry. Although it seems to offer major benefits on the surface, there are also a variety of drawbacks. Only time will tell if this will be a common tool within the industry.