Are tablets changing the way we dine?

More restaurants are rolling out tabletop tablets for customers to use

By Eryka Washington - Investigative Reporter

Orlando, Fl. - Forget telling the kids to put away their tablet or iPad at the dinner table, because some restaurants are now using this technology allowing customers to place orders and play games right at the table.

But is this table top technology changing the way we dine?

Erika, a waitress at Chili's, explains to her customers how it works.

"It's basically just an extension of us … it shows our margarita specials, happy hour specials," she said.

This new tabletop touch screen technology is called a Ziosk. Chili's just purchased 100,000 tablets for guests to use.

Customers can order appetizers, desserts and alcoholic beverages right from their table without having to wait for a server. 

Bob Santillana of Chicago Pizzeria Uno says, "We just want to make it easier, in case you said 'You know what I wanted that extra order of chicken wings and I ordered nachos let me go ahead and add that.'"

Santillana believes servers aren't going anywhere and calls the Ziosk their assistant.

"Being we are in the people business and want to make sure we give the best experience possible to our guest and this helps enhance it," Santillana said.

In fact, restaurants using these tablets are seeing better returns.

Dr. Michael Terry of Rosen College of Hospitality credits the visual pictures on the tablet because guests tend to buy more because they see the item.

"When you see these backlit two-dimensional pictures you get the impression that this is probably what it's going to be," Terry said.

Santillana agrees and says, "I can show you what a warm chocolate chip cookie looks like. For us its part of the sizzle, if you see it and looks great you're more likely to indulge."

Another benefit, according to Terry, is that guests can see the list of ingredients. 

"They are educated to the fact of how many calories; is it gluten-free; does it have nuts in it," Terry said.

This helps reduce mistakes and allows guests to pay for their meal right at their table, which is a big perk if you're in a rush.

Santillana says it's also peace of mind.

"Your credit card never leaves your hand it's right here," Santillana said.

It gives you the option of a tip amount and lets you even split the bill.

Servers have actually seen an increase in tips with the Ziosk. But the Ziosk isn't for everyone, you can always order from staff.

Copyright 2014 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.