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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 10:01 pm

Diners split on tabletop gadgets in survey

Kimberly Dupps Truesdell | The Journal Gazette

It was a working-mom lunch, as I like to call it. I had jetted from the downtown offices of The Journal Gazette to Jefferson Pointe so I could pick up a few things for upcoming Halloween festivities. But while I was there, I was going to pick up some lunch to take back to my desk.

Bags in hand and hungry for a salad, I popped into Panera where I was greeted by a row of self-­order kiosks. I have to acknowledge that it had been awhile since I had been there but the tablets caught me off guard. Just as I had been last week when I sat at the bar at Bagger Dave’s for a solo lunch and the server had a handheld device and stylus to tap in my order. Long gone are the days of when I used to handwrite tickets using obscure code while I waitressed in high school.

Technology at restaurants is nothing new – relatively speaking, at least. When Main St. Bistro and Martini Lounge opened in 2013, Todd Smith had plans to arm servers with tablets. Red Robin rolled out its Ziosk, a tabletop tablet, the same year; Applebee’s installed 100,000 in 2014; and Olive Garden introduced them company-wide in 2015. 

But a recent survey about restaurant technology from a diner’s perspective reports that diners are split on whether tabletop tablets improve the guest experience. Fifty-two percent agreed that the tablets did and 48 percent disagreed.

As a mother who has had to wrestle one out of a child’s hands to avoid gaming fees but loves to pay at my convenience, I’m also split on tabletop tablets.

The survey conducted by Toast, a restaurant technology platform, polled 1,115 diners about their experiences using technology. The diners were in various parts of the United States and of varying ages. 

When it comes to the server-held tablets, like the ones at Bagger Dave’s, 68 percent of those polled said that they imprvoved the experience. However, respondents commented that it took away from the human experience and limited social interaction. 

In the poll, though, 79 percent of diners agreed that technology improved their guest experience. Free Wi-Fi and online reservations were the most important technology features, with 23 percent of diners listing Wi-Fi as a very important feature when visiting a restaurant; 36 percent reported that online reservations was very important. 

Other categories rated were loyalty/rewards programs, online or mobile ordering, mobile payments and touchscreen ordering.

But the most important factor in selecting a restaurant? Food, according to 60 percent of those polled. 

For me, the most interesting aspect of the survey was not rating what was available but requesting new features for 2017. Among the suggestions from those polled were a progress bar for meals, better wait-time technology, a server "call" button and easier ways to split the bill.


The Venice Restaurant, 2242 Goshen Road, is hosting its annual Octoberfest on Saturday.

A buffet of German favorites will be available for $19.95 a person and $7.50 for children 10 and younger. The menu includes beef rouladen, sauerbraten, cabbage rolls, brats and sauerkraut, German potato salad, red cabbage, cucumber salad, potato dumplings, potato pancakes, spaetzle and sausage and apples. Black forest cake will be available for $3.95 a piece. The buffet will be available 5 to 9:30 p.m.

The Ken and Mary Turbo Accordion Express will provide entertainment from 6 to 9 p.m. 

Reservations are accepted; call 482-1618.

Around town

Mad Anthony Brewing’s Auburn Tap Room will be closed through Thursday for kitchen floor repairs.

Bravas, 3412 Fairfield Ave., has unvieled its fall burger menu. Among the seasonal sandwiches are the Fry Chickie Fry (chicken, lettuce, blue cheese spread, hot sauce and bacon); Apple Brisket (pepper brisket, apple slaw, apple barbecue sauce, white cheddar and mayo); and Beer Cheese Burger (roasted shallots, bacon beer cheese and pickle).  

The Dish features restaurant news and food events and appears Wednesdays. Fax news items to 461-8893, email or call 461-8727.