Is Technology Making Waiters Obsolete?

Some argue that adding touchscreen tablets at restaurant tables allows waiters to focus on customer service. But, where is the trend really leading?

If you’re not a fan of electronic devices at the dinner table, you may want to avoid eating at Olive Garden.

The Italian restaurant chain is adding handheld tablets to all its U.S. restaurants, enabling customers to order and pay by touch screen, as well as play games and trivia, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“This additional resource benefits both our guests and our servers, enabling our team members to make more meaningful connections and provide more personalized service,” said Dave George, Olive Garden president, in a statement.

Olive Garden tested the tablets at select restaurants over the past year with positive results.

“Tips are higher for servers, dining times are faster and guest-satisfaction scores have increased,” the Sentinel said.

Having a tablet at your restaurant table will make you spend more money, Bloomberg Business reports. Not only do diners typically tip more by selecting the default tip (20 percent), they also order more appetizers and dessert.

So, if you can order and pay by tablet, is the restaurant wait staff obsolete?

Olive Garden says no. Restaurant spokeswoman Jessica Dinon told the Sentinel that Olive Garden has no plans to reduce its serving staff when the touchscreen tablets are introduced. Servers will continue to take orders for entrees while the tablets will take care of drinks, appetizers and desserts.

WaitersRace.com said that in a perfect dining world, restaurant owners would arm their wait staff with tablets.

Using the tablets, a waiter could be more persuasive and available to his guests. He will act more as a ‘’gastronomic consultant” than as someone whose mission is only to take orders. As a result of that new way of processing, the waiter may be able to increase his knowledge about gastronomy, customers’ psychology, marketing and room service in general. And everyone wins something!

The use of tabletop tablets in restaurants is gaining steam. Chili’s added touchscreen tablets last year. Some Outbacks and Applebee’s restaurants also use the devices. Red Robin is planning to install tablets at all of its locations soon.

What do you think about tablets in restaurants? Have you used one? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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