Chili's, the casual-dining chain, will begin to offer customers access to tabletop computer screens at more than 800 locations in the U.S., starting Tuesday rolling out through early 2014. The Wall Street Journal reports customers will be able to use the tablets to order food and drinks, pay the bill, and play games.
The tabletop screens may end up being a smart move for the chain's bottom line: In tests, Chili's found diners who ate at tables equipped with the tablets spent more per check, particularly on "up-sell" items like dessert and coffee. Krista Gibson, SVP president of brand strategy for Chili's, told the Journal she saw dessert sales increase nearly 20% in tests. Chili's is considering similarly strategic promotions for alcoholic beverages, which are typically among a restaurant's highest-margin items.
Tabletop technology could also offer new conveniences to customers: You could pay for your bill and leave without having to flag down a waiter, and a payment system that's built into tabletops could reduce instances of credit card skimming, in which waitstaff lift a customer's credit card number while processing a transaction. But those new conveniences could come at a price--tabletop touchscreen users are more willing to provide their email addresses and answer survey questions after a meal.
[Image: Flickr user danorth1]