If you’re looking for cues for 2014 food franchise trends, look no further than US bar and grill chain Applebee’s.
Appealing to young diners, the restaurant is introducing tablets for viewing menus, ordering and paying bills, and keeping customers entertained with games.
As one of the US’s largest casual dining chains — with around 1 865 locations — Applebee’s plans to put a tablet on every table by the end of 2014. “Tablets will change the way we interact with guests in restaurants,” says Applebee’s president Mike Archer.
The 50 stores testing the devices have also seen a boost in sales.
Growing tablet uptake
The move isn’t an isolated case, it’s already common at eateries in parts of Europe and Asia, and follows a similar move by rival brand Chili’s that has already begun the tablet roll-out to its 800 stores.
“Looking out over the next decade, it will become fairly routine for consumers in table service restaurants to use tablets to view menus, place orders and pay bills,” says Hudson Riehle, senior VP of research at the National Restaurant Association (US).
Security tactics also ensure that tablets removed from the restaurant become unusable.
The move to tablets is targeted squarely at Millennials as more than 80% say they want restaurants to offer improved technology, explains Riehle, although customers can continue to order meals via waiters.
Applebee’s will roll out nearly
- 1000 – tablets, ranking it among the largest ever roll-outs of tablet tech in the private sector.
- 80% – of US Millennials expect improved tech offerings at restaurants.