If you’re tired of hearing the people on their smartphones at the next table yelling at the top of their lungs, you’ll be happy to know that one restaurant chain in the U.S. is planning on doing something about it – at least for one day of the week. Applebee’s plans to introduce “No Tech Tuesday” to all of its 1,800+ restaurants in the US. In fact, according to reports, the company is filing an application to trademark the phrase.
Installing 100,000 Tablets
What’s perplexing is that back in December 2013, just over seven months ago, the company announced that by the end of 2014, it would have completed installation of 100,000 Intel-based E la Carte Presto tablets in their restaurants, so customers can order their meals, pay their bills, play games and have other social media interactions.
There doesn’t appear to be any detailed information as to how the scenario will play out and whether or not those tablets will go dark – on Tuesdays only. I do find it interesting that on one hand the chain is taking a leap forward embracing new technology but on the other hand, totally doing away with it for one day of the week.
Seems like mixed messages that bring about two different questions: 1) Do people want to order and pay for their own food at the table? and 2) Are they willing to silence their technology?
For me, at a place like Applebee’s, I’d be happy to be able to order and pay on my own. If it was a romantic fine dining establishment or where menu changes, I would be less enthralled to do so.
As for technology, as the Gadget Guy, I’d welcome a little off-line time, although I do on occasion like to Instagram my plate. In fact, I think that a tech void will come as quite a relief to many as frankly the whole tech thing has become somewhat ridiculous. You want to sit down and enjoy a good meal, but it’s like a food court in a mall. People tend to talk louder when on the phone and then the plethora of annoying ringtones we need to endure. And it’s not just the phones; it’s the blaring music, the clicks on the keyboard and the buzzes and beep of the video games.
Tech and courtesy don’t always mix
I also have seen it taking its toll on servers too. I’ve witnessed overworked wait staff waiting patiently to take an order or collect payment while someone is gabbing and often unnecessarily. This also means that he or she is not available to help someone else. And we all hate waiting for service, don’t we?
I also think it affects quality time. I visited a local steakhouse one evening last year and noticed one table totally quiet. On one hand it seemed peaceful, but on the other hand there I witnessed a family of eight, each one on their mobile device and not one person talking to another. Sad.
Are Customers Willing?
It should be interesting to see whether or not people will agree to no-tech. Would they do it willingly or do they need some sort of carrot?
In an AP report, a restaurant in Jerusalem offered 50% discounts to customers for powering off their phones. Also, earlier this year, in New Jersey, one restaurant tried an experiment for two Tuesdays. Instead of an incentive, the owners fined customers for not complying – but the money went to charity. Yesterday, according to the Huffington Post , “no tech” is not new, reporting that last year one establishment in Lebanon offered patrons a 10 percent discount if they “checked their devices at the door.”
There doesn’t seem to be any clear indication as to what will be rolled out, if anything, in their restaurants in Canada or in other countries. But I’m sure, many eyes, especially those of other restaurants, will be watching to see how patrons react.
UPDATE: July 14, 2014. I just received an e-mail advertisement from Chilis. I guess they’ve rolled out Pay & Go.
Photo Courtesy Applebee’s.
Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.
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