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Chili's introduces touch screen ordering, insists it won't replace servers

Scott Levin's picture

The process of ordering and paying for your food at Chili's could involve less human interaction.

The restaurant chain has introduced a new touch screen system that provides customers with a myriad of options at the dining table. Chili's began installing the technology, called "Ziosk," four months ago in some Minnesota restaurants.

Each table at the participating restaurants has a "Ziosk" touch screen tablet that has the appearance of a car's GPS system. With this feature, customers can order their meal, add on a desert or side item and even swipe their credit cards and pay for the meal. Additionally, the "Ziosk" has a collection of games and for $0.99, kids have unlimited access to this entertainment.

Regional directors for Chili's are quick to point out that the use of the "Ziosk" is completely optional. Customers will still have access to waiters and servers to assist them in any portion of the dining experience. The "Ziosk" also does not eliminate the role of a server; the technology is seen as a complement to the human worker.

The "Ziosk" has not cost any employees their jobs, according to Aaron Keske, a Chili's area director.

"This will never replace the server," Keske told CBS Minnesota. "We are in the service industry and all it’s going to do is enhance the guest experience."

Through its first four months, Chili's reports that the touch screen technology has been especially popular with families who need to keep kids entertained and business workers looking for a quick lunch.

So what does the future hold for touch screen tabletop technology? Keske says the company is only "scratching the surface," and Chili's hopes to continually improve the technology to better the customer experience.

Chili's is certainly not the first restaurant to introduce the technology. In recent years, Jack in the Box also implemented a touch-screen kiosk in select restaurants to take customers' orders. At these kiosks, food can be ordered and payments (both cash and credit) can be made.

Several variations of the "human-less" ordering exist in other forms. Many restaurants, including Pizza Hut and Wing Stop, allow customers to place orders on their smart phones through an app and pick up the food in store or via delivery. Additionally, many retailers have a self-checkout line, although it has been reported that these stations are havens for shoplifting.

It is unknown if Chili's plans on expanding the use of the "Ziosk" to the rest of the country. But it may only be a matter of time before customers can completely avoid human interaction when going out for dinner.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons


Submitted by julie (not verified) on
Chili's wait staff fails to tell you that there is a $1.99 fee to use this Kiosk which tax is added to and which the tip is calculated on! That didn't make me happy at all.

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