How to deal with boredom at the table and long waits for the check while dining out? Applebee's is betting on 100,000 tablets.
The casual dining chain is planning to install the technology at every table and many bars at its more than 1,800 locations by the end of 2014.
The E La Carte Presto tablets - powered by Intel - will allow patrons to pay from their seats while also adding food and beverages to their existing orders. A pilot program helped customers save time, according to DineEquity, Applebee's Glendale, Calif.-based parent company.
"Let's face it: Everyone who has ever been to a restaurant has been frustrated by waiting for their check," said Mike Archer, Applebee's president, in a statement.
Eventually, the gadgets will also feature an expanded lineup of games, video streaming capabilities, music options, gift card sales and social media interaction.
The Presto tablets, which were developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have been "ruggedized" to deal with the spills and rowdy children common in such restaurants, according to the company.
DineEquity said it might consider introducing the tablets at its IHOP restaurant chain as well. The company joins many others in the industry that have begun incorporating technology into the customer experience, installing ordering kiosks, equipping servers with mobile devices and more.