What is in this article?:
- Applebeeâ€™s to roll out tablets at all U.S. restaurants
- 'Future-proofing' the dining experience
The chain aims to offer guests more control with the touch-screen technology.
Applebee's selected Presto tablets developed by Silicon Valley-based E la Carte Inc.
Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar is rolling out the use of touch-screen tablets to its 1,865 U.S. restaurants next year with the goal of putting guests more in control of their dining experience.
The yearlong rollout is scheduled to begin in March 2014 and will include about 100,000 tabletop tablets across the Kansas City, Mo.-based chain’s domestic system.
After testing the technology in about 40 restaurants, the company selected Presto tablets developed by Silicon Valley-based E la Carte Inc. The mostly franchised chain has negotiated a contract for the system rollout through the company’s purchasing co-op but has not disclosed details on cost.
Watch a video for Applebee's new tablets
Applebee’s president Mike Archer said the primary goal of the rollout is to eliminate a common “pain point” that can hinder the overall guest experience: finding your server to pay the check. Fundamentally, he said, “It’s about putting more control into guests’ hands.”
He also noted that the company expects the tablets to appeal to Millennials, in particular, who are increasingly comfortable with technology in all aspects of their lives. “It’s about relevancy and how we appeal to a new generation,” said Archer.
Initially, guests will be able to use the tablets to order appetizers and desserts, as well as a second beverage. Servers will still bring menus to the table and take orders for main courses and first beverages.
Archer said some restaurants will test making the full menu available on the tablet, and that could be a next step.
Because the devices will be linked to the restaurant’s point of sale system, guests will be able to use their credit cards to pay at the table whenever they are ready, with a receipt emailed rather than printed out. “The credit card never leaves the guests’ hand,” said Archer.
The goal is not to replace human staffers, but rather to free them to focus more fully on serving the table, he noted. “We see this as a fundamental change in the service model,” said Archer. “But it’s not a labor-saving device. It’s about improving the guest experience.”