It had to happen. The electronic age of handheld games, PDAs, a cell phone that will let you purchase as well as communicate, these are all transforming faster than we can afford to upgrade.
Now the newer trend is to have an automated cashier at your table. I don’t mean standing at your table; I mean a small e-cashier sitting on your table.
You may have seen these in the large franchise restaurants like Applebee’s, TGIF, Chili’s and Red Robin, among those in the High Desert. It sits unobtrusively at the rear of your table or right in your face, either way, you can even opt for a pre-paid game, the news, see the shop’s menu and specials, and more. You can even ignore it and pay the traditional ways of cash or card handed directly to the cashier as you leave.
I talked to several waitresses who will be anonymous, of course, and found that this trend creates mixed feelings. I figured the younger patrons would quickly grasp the ease of the unit and use it as masterfully as WarCraft. But not so. They’re concerned about someone losing their job.
The latest news is that Applebee’s started the trend and IHOP soon joined in.
From their web site: For more than 30 years, Applebee’s has defined the casual dining experience in America, influencing food trends for more than 1 million guests every day and defining value and service for the industry. Today, Applebee’s steps into the future to redefine and enhance the guest experience through the installation of 100,000 E la Carte Presto tablets, powered by Intel, on every table and multiple bar positions at more than 1,800 Applebee’s® restaurants in the United States by the end of 2014.
DineEquity, franchisor of Applebee’s and IHOP® restaurants, announced the relationship with an aggressive schedule for installation throughout the Applebee’s system. The tablets, which enable guests to add to their orders, pay, and play games from their seats, will also be introduced at IHOP locations.
With the convenience of swiping your credit card down the edge of the screen, you have no need of talking to a cashier as you leave the restaurant. This topic alone, replacing some of the cashier staff, has caused patrons to bristle at the fact. The younger generation patrons under 50 feel pretty much the same as patrons over 50. They don’t like killing off another staff position. More unemployed or part-time staff. No good.
Some diners love the convenience but then wonder about its safety. Most franchises will have secure coding at the level of ATMs so the fear factor is reduced. Yet, if hackers can jump into The White House, Lowe’s, and Target, who is really safe? Others said that handing a credit card to a person can be just as dangerous when they duplicate the card behind closed doors.
Sometimes the restaurants with loud sports bars make it hard to hear a transaction at the table. Using a quick swipe of the table top tablet offers quiet, quick, and quality service. Units can offer their shop’s complete menu as well.
Discussion at our table centered on enjoying ambiance, conversation with real people, and the skill of a waitress knowing her menu and pricing much easier than scrolling through a menu on screen. One server stated with a grin, “You might as well get use to it. I think these are here to stay.”
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Is it the trend that we will just accept like the ATM, the smart phone, and slot machine with no arm? Perhaps.