Sunday, February 2, 2014

Is This Applebees' Answer to Higher Minimun Wage Laws:Touch Screens?

One unintended consequence of higher minimum wage laws will be more automation. It started years ago when attendants at gas stations were replaced by self-service gas pumps. The new round of talks about higher minimum wages, coupled with the burdensome Obamacare regulations,  is now forcing fast-food and casual dining restaurants to think automation.

Some automation is good, helps productivity and increases a country's standard of living, but other automation is the result of firms simply trying to get around onerous regulations placed at the foot of employers by government intervention in free markets.

The Daily Mail reports:

Taking dining in to the digital era, Applebee's is putting touch-screen tablets on its restaurant tables so that customers can place orders, pay the bill and even play games from the comfort of their seats
The Missouri-based chain, known for its fair-priced all-American cuisine, plans on deploying 100,000 devices at 1,800 locations across the U.S. by the end of next year[...]

The Presto tablet, powered by Intel, which Applebee's will be using, features an all-day battery, a credit card reader, Bluetooth and cameras.

They will presumably replace waiting staff but servers will still be required to bring out bar and food orders.

The tablets will also be considered for introduction at IHOP locations as the chain is owned by the same company as Applebee's.

The casual dining firm isn't the first to embrace technology.

In September, Chili’s announced it would be putting tablets on diners’ tables in about 800 locations and Delta air lines has already rolled out restaurant iPads at several of its airport terminals.


  1. So, no more 20 percent tips for the consumer (or reduced amt. for the food servers, that at some point might be replaced by a mobile robot)? Reading 'Economics In One Lesson' by Henry Hazlitt; Ch. VII is titled "The Curse of Machinery." The opening paragraph states: "Among the most viable of all economic delusions is the belief that machines on net balance create unemployment. Destroyed a thousand times, it has risen a thousand times out of its own ashes as hardy and vigorous as ever." His book was written in 1946, with updates at 1962/1979. So perhaps Applebees-IHOP is acting in a rational manner(to cut costs), but look for the boogie man to again be raised that the age of machines, technology is a job killer, when does not have to be so (when the real job killer is govt. intervention in every facet of life).

  2. I've seen something similar in a Red Robin restaurant a few months back. I wondered the same thing about tipping.