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Servers, Touchscreens Have Come to Replace You

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Photo: ElaCarte

Servers, your computer overlords have come to replace you, and you know what? They're not going to disappear for twenty minutes when all table 16 wants is another round of Raspberry Meltdown Rocks Mucho Margaritas (TM Applebee's), okay? Today the Wall Street Journal takes a look at the use of interactive computer screens like Ziosk, Presto, and eTab at restaurants including Chili's, Applebee's and Chevys Fresh Mex. These things take orders, accept payment, and shut up the kids with their flashing lights and their video games. What's not to like?

Well, they're bulky, for starters. The chain Texas Roadhouse decided to ditch the devices because they took up too much space on a table "busy with peanut buckets and bread baskets and all." Also, the real life human servers complained about having to charge them, and some parents seem hesitant about the video game options.

Still, there are advantages: one Chili's franchise says dessert orders have gone up 30% since they started using table devices. Also, many of the machines suggest a 20% tip when it's time to pay, allowing customers to adjust up or down as they see fit. Supposedly this guilts low tippers into leaving more cash.

See, servers? It's not all that bad in your computerized future. Now, move that peanut bucket aside to make room for your new digital coworker.

· Screens Get a Place at the Table [WSJ]
· All Server Coverage on Eater [-E-]