Chili’s Grill & Bar has spent the last six months testing tablets that allow diners to order beverages and desserts or pay their entire bill without having to flag down a waiter. Things have gone so well at the initial 180 or so restaurants that the company decided to install the devices at most of its 1,266 U.S. restaurants by the first half of 2014.
No, it’s not an effort to replace wait staff with machines and cut down on labor costs, insists Nicole Cochran, senior director of marketing at Chili’s. The table-top tablets give the dining experience a novel and modern flair, but that’s not why Chili’s is moving ahead with the effort. The real allure of the tablets, Chili’s has found, is that they reliably increase the size of the average check.