Applebee’s Plans Tableside Tablets

Applebee’s Plans Tableside Tablets

If you thought tablets were just for business application, think again. A recent move by one large restaurant chain suggests they’ll soon be important for customers too. Applebee’s restaurants plan to install an estimated 100,000 tableside tablets in every one of the chain’s 1,800 U.S. locations by the end of 2014.

Owners and operators of small neighborhood bistros and family owned diners, take note.

This move by a major restaurant brand might be worth examining by even the least technologically adventurous.

Flexible Payment

Applebee’s was apparently motivated at first by a goal to improve efficiency.

In an official announcement, Applebee’s President Mike Archer explained:

Starting out, our goal was to create a way for guests to control when and how they pay their check. What we learned after nearly two years of testing is we can provide much more.

Now, the company is expecting tablets to revolutionize the dine-out experience for millions of its customers. The new technology will allow patrons to make changes and additions to their orders, pay via tablet instead of waiting for their checks, and even play some games and access social media while they’re waiting for their food.

Applebee’s says the tablets being installed are E la Carte Presto devices running on an Intel processor. The specially-designed tablets are built with an attached credit card reader and a battery that allows them to run all day long so there’s no need to shut one down to recharge its battery.

Better Customer Engagement

Though restaurant chains like McDonald’s are already experimenting with mobile technology as a way to improve customer service, Applebee’s latest move may do much more.

By giving customers the ability to change or update orders, the restaurants have found a way to be more responsive. And by providing social media access, Applebee’s is encourage more social engagement around its brand as well.

In the end, many customers will be bringing their own mobile media devices to the dining experience. But providing customers with these devices gives restaurants, and perhaps other businesses, an even better chance to engage.

Applebee’s Photo via Shutterstock


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

10 Reactions
  1. The payment options are enough to justify the move to me. Add in the ordering flexibility (no more lost upsells because a waiter wasn’t around) and the social potential and you’ve got a home run in my opinion.

    • Robert,
      I know, right? Plus from our perspective here at Small Business Trends, isn’t this an easy enough option for even smaller restaurants to implement, what with all the developers out there offering tablet POS solutions for small business retail? One of them must surely be able to do something similar.

    • But there is a problem in maintenance. While I am all for technology, gadgets also require maintenance. You also need to factor that in your expenses. So this move is really not for everyone.

      • Rental less than $100 a month $0 start up Fee 10 to 12% average addon sales

        When you consider minimum wage, matching SSI and Medicare Workman’s Comp Insurance Premium and Per Diem and Unemployment Insurance I do think the cost of usage will be much lower

  2. Hmm. Interesting. Cool. I like.

    My only concern for now is whether the use of tablets will be optional. I ask this because there might some customers without the experience to use one.

    • These tablets look very user friendly I dout there will be anyone who cannot use one running around unattended

      • I hope they are, Dan. Like I said, not every customer will have tablet-using experience, so I hope it’s user friendly to the level where someone like that will find it fairly intuitive to use.