Author Topic: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets  (Read 1445 times)

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Offline massadvj

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Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« on: December 04, 2013, 10:40:22 AM »

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/12/03/tablets_at_restaurants_applebee_s_chili_s_race_to_eliminate_human_interaction.html

Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
By Will Oremus

Soon you'll be able to go out to eat without talking to anyone at all.

Score one for the machines. On Tuesday, Applebee’s announced plans to install a tablet at every table in its 1,860 restaurants across the United States. Customers will be able to use the devices to order food, pay the bill, and ignore their dining companions by playing video games.

Chili’s unveiled basically the same plan three months ago. But that doesn’t mean Applebee’s hasn’t been plotting this move for years. In fact, Applebee’s was the name that came up when my former Slate colleague Annie Lowrey first wrote about the tablets-for-restaurants idea in April 2011. Her story focused on Palo Alto-based startup E La Carte, which is in fact Applebee’s partner on the just-announced deal. Chili’s opted for a rival vendor, Ziosk. Applebee's went light on details in announcing the terms of its deal, but here's how the economics of the proposition looked when Lowrey wrote about it in 2011:

The Presto [E La Carte’s tablet] aspires to be the food-services version of the airline check-in kiosk or the ATM or the self-checkout at your local pharmacy. It makes a person's job a computer's job, and that cuts costs. Each console goes for $100 per month. If a restaurant serves meals eight hours a day, seven days a week, it works out to 42 cents per hour per table—making the Presto cheaper than even the very cheapest waiter. Moreover, no manager needs to train it, replace it if it quits, or offer it sick days. And it doesn't forget to take off the cheese, walk off for 20 minutes, or accidentally offend with small talk, either.
The restaurants deny that the tablets represent an attempt to replace human employees with computers. Applebee’s is saying that it won’t change its staffing levels when the devices come online next year. And Chili’s is optimistic that the tablets will pay for themselves by bringing in extra revenue from impulse orders and at-the-table gaming. Not only will you not have to talk to a waiter when you want to order something, you won’t have to talk to your kids, either!

Then again, of course these businesses are saying they won’t use the tablets to replace employees. Announcing layoffs along with the tablet move would be begging for a backlash. The fact is, if the tablets work, they’ll make the ordering process more efficient and cut the amount of human labor that these restaurants require. At that point, do you suppose they’ll keep the extra waiters around out of charity?
"She only coughs when she lies."

Offline massadvj

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2013, 10:44:00 AM »
This was just a matter of time.  I'm very surprised more restaurants haven't done this until now.  The restaurateur will still need people to transport food to the tables, clean up and bus.  But they won't need anywhere near as many people for that.  Like other service-oriented staff, waiters are going to have to go upscale or perish. 
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Offline mystery-ak

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2013, 10:46:56 AM »
This was just a matter of time.  I'm very surprised more restaurants haven't done this until now.  The restaurateur will still need people to transport food to the tables, clean up and bus.  But they won't need anywhere near as many people for that.  Like other service-oriented staff, waiters are going to have to go upscale or perish.

Maybe they can use drones instead of wait staff and then there is no human contact...lol

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Offline Millee

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2013, 10:52:21 AM »
Wasn't it Red Robin that used to have phones at the table instead of waiters???  I'm not surprised it's coming to that, but it's unfortunate.   **nononono*

Offline andy58-in-nh

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2013, 11:21:04 AM »
And one day, damned sooner than you think, your food will be delivered by drones. Or some such thing. But not by people.

This is a normal economic progression in a market-based economy: the automation of lower value work, and the movement of human labor to higher value occupations.

But when government involves itself in the process (as ours is now doing), markets are bent to the will of bureaucrats rather than the demands of investors and consumers. In America, entrepreneurial activity has been tamped down by government regulations, tax and fiscal policies and by selective subsidies to favored companies and industries at the expense of others. Similarly, the increasing domination of primary and secondary education by government (and I would argue, by progressive ideologues) has resulted in a change in the mission of schools in preparing young people for productive lives and citizenship.

As a consequence, today there are perhaps, entire industries and categories of workers that have never been created; ones that otherwise would now exist. They are invisible, but their absence has real effects on the quality of our lives and on our opportunities for economic advancement.  Many of the jobs that do presently exist find a labor force lacking the educational achievements and the skill sets necessary to fill them. People who lack marketable skills and educational achievement are far more likely to become permanent government dependents than others. But our government now seems to be actively promoting such a policy, while blaming business for the problem.

Other categories of labor, in both the manufacturing and service sectors have moved offshore, as companies have sought lower labor costs and better-trained workers, as well as fewer regulations and lower taxes. Such enterprises are also responding to the development of middle-class populations - and thus new consumers - in the very countries to which they have relocated production facilities, which it makes it ever more unlikely that they will one day return to American shores.

Until or unless we have a government that understands these challenges and abandons (or else, is made to abandon) the central command, control, tax, and regulate policies of the present, Americans will continue to lose ground economically in the future.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2013, 11:23:59 AM by andy58-in-nh »
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Offline massadvj

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2013, 11:58:41 AM »
And one day, damned sooner than you think, your food will be delivered by drones. Or some such thing. But not by people.

This is a normal economic progression in a market-based economy: the automation of lower value work, and the movement of human labor to higher value occupations.

But when government involves itself in the process (as ours is now doing), markets are bent to the will of bureaucrats rather than the demands of investors and consumers. In America, entrepreneurial activity has been tamped down by government regulations, tax and fiscal policies and by selective subsidies to favored companies and industries at the expense of others. Similarly, the increasing domination of primary and secondary education by government (and I would argue, by progressive ideologues) has resulted in a change in the mission of schools in preparing young people for productive lives and citizenship.

As a consequence, today there are perhaps, entire industries and categories of workers that have never been created; ones that otherwise would now exist. They are invisible, but their absence has real effects on the quality of our lives and on our opportunities for economic advancement.  Many of the jobs that do presently exist find a labor force lacking the educational achievements and the skill sets necessary to fill them. People who lack marketable skills and educational achievement are far more likely to become permanent government dependents than others. But our government now seems to be actively promoting such a policy, while blaming business for the problem.

Other categories of labor, in both the manufacturing and service sectors have moved offshore, as companies have sought lower labor costs and better-trained workers, as well as fewer regulations and lower taxes. Such enterprises are also responding to the development of middle-class populations - and thus new consumers - in the very countries to which they have relocated production facilities, which it makes it ever more unlikely that they will one day return to American shores.

Until or unless we have a government that understands these challenges and abandons (or else, is made to abandon) the central command, control, tax, and regulate policies of the present, Americans will continue to lose ground economically in the future.

Absolutely.  One thing that becomes readily apparent when you travel around the third world is the superior degree to which you become waited on by service staff.  Americans have become accustomed to doing everything themselves because labor has become so expensive in the USA, driven mostly by minimum wage, welfare of various kinds and over-regulation.
"She only coughs when she lies."

Offline Rapunzel

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2013, 12:52:01 PM »
I still miss having someone pump my gas and clean my windshield.
“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves.” G Washington July 2, 1776

Offline olde north church

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2013, 01:08:36 PM »
Was ANYBODY paying attention at the TomorrowLand exhibit?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2013, 01:09:00 PM by olde north church »
Why?  Well, because I'm a bastard, that's why.

Offline andy58-in-nh

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2013, 01:33:34 PM »
I still miss having someone pump my gas and clean my windshield.

How much would you pay me?  :tongue2:

Kidding, of course. Look: back when gas was 34 cents a gallon (and yes, I remember those days), service station owners still made enough of a profit to be able to afford to pay a low-skill/no-skill kid a couple of bucks an hour so that he could operate the pumps, clean the glass, check the oil, and refill your fluids, if need be. 

The kid might also have a chance to observe the (higher-paid/higher-skilled) shop mechanics playing their trade. He could stick around after hours and learn how to rotate and balance tires, do a wheel alignment, perform an oil change, do a brake or transmission job, replace the plugs, learn the difference between GM and Mopar, do tune-ups...

And then, maybe he'd get certified and the owner would hire him on as a mechanic. Or else, he'd just make some dough, learn some responsibility and continue his education elsewhere.

But today, everything has changed. Margins are tight. Minimum wage laws greatly preclude the possibility of hiring unskilled labor. And the business has evolved and differentiated: gas stations are less full-service enterprises, and more refueling pits attached to a convenience store. Cars (like everything else) are computerized and far more complex mechanically. 30 years ago, I could swap out a carburetor and replace the condenser, points and plugs by myself. Those parts don't even exist anymore (except for the spark plugs, which I can still gap and replace, but I digress...)

Low-skilled mechanical labor has been replaced with highly-skilled electronic and mechanical technicians who train rigorously, and must receive industry work certifications before they can be hired. And they are paid accordingly. "Entry-level" in the auto service business today isn't cleaning the dead bugs off a windshield - it's scheduling service visits, tracking accounts payable, researching warranties, and calling vendors for parts deliveries. Different world.
Liberalism isn't really about making the world a better place. It's about reassuring the elites that they are good people for wanting to rule over it.

Offline andy58-in-nh

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2013, 01:36:57 PM »
Was ANYBODY paying attention at the TomorrowLand exhibit?

Nah. I was taking "selfies" with my Kodak Brownie.
Liberalism isn't really about making the world a better place. It's about reassuring the elites that they are good people for wanting to rule over it.

Offline NavyCanDo

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2013, 02:07:40 PM »
"Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets"



Why not? They replaced stoves and ovens with Microwaves long ago.
A nation that turns away from prayer will ultimately find itself in desperate need of it. :Jonathan Cahn

Offline truth_seeker

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2013, 02:26:40 PM »
Part of the joy of life is interacting with other human beings.

Digital interaction does not compare to face-to-face or a phone call.

Offline mountaineer

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2013, 09:31:10 AM »
Was ANYBODY paying attention at the TomorrowLand exhibit?
Ha, good point.
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Offline Oceander

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Re: Of Course Applebee's Is Going to Replace Waiters With Tablets
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2013, 08:49:16 PM »
I much prefer to pump my own gas than have some attendant do it for me; in a restaurant such as Applebee's, where the food is largely formulaic (not to say it isn't good, just that it's not particularly idiosyncratic or unique), I'd much prefer to place my order my way, at my pace, as soon as I sit down and I'm ready to order, than to wait for the waiter to make it around to my table.


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