Of all the fast-food-pretending-to-be-real-food restaurants, my favorite is Chili's. Maybe it's because they can't seem to decide whether they're Tex/Mex or just a burger joint or it's those awesome Black Bean Burgers that I wind up eating with a knife and fork. Either way, I enjoy participating in their identity crisis.
Now, they are welcoming us to the 21st Century with a new and (they say) exciting development. The Touch-Screen. Even though I loved it when Wawa instituted them several years ago, I'm not sure I want to go to a sit-down restaurant and talk to a computer. It takes something away from the "Hi, I'm Brad and I'll be your server" experience. Although, I don't understand why Brad cannot bring my order out. Usually, it comes from whichever server happens to be standing by the kitchen when the plate goes out. I suppose that's part of their policy. But I digress.
At the Wawa, they would usually screw-up my sandwich order when I placed it with a human. And since I generally abstain from human contact, having a touch-screen do my bidding is a welcomed addition to my life. Not all technology is foist upon us for our own good. Chili's motives seem rather sinister:
Restaurant-goers who dine at tables with the devices often spend more per check, because they tend to buy more desserts and coffee when the screen is present, said Krista Gibson, senior vice president of brand strategy for Chili's.
Pictures of desserts pop up on the screen midway through the main course, when people start to think about what they will eat next, Ms. Gibson said. Dessert sales increased almost 20% in tests, she said, and coffee sales also rose when featured in a similar way.
Chili's is also considering promoting alcoholic beverages during meals, Ms. Gibson said.
Oh boy! Chili's motive isn't one of convenience, it's (surprise) profit. Not only will we order more (so they say) but we'll enjoy it too. Just when we were starting to embrace the idea of not getting fatter, along comes more incentive to eat.
Of all the technological advancements they could place in front of us, this is what they've come up with. How about scales on the seats, so we'll know what we weigh when we enter and when we leave? Or a breathalyzer to measure those "Signature Cocktails" they sold us, where the big signature is on the summons you get when you're pulled over. No, that would be ... um ... helping us. And we can't have that.
So, under the guise of convenience, they place a touch-screen in front of us. We'll exclaim, "Oooh, isn't this cool!" while we're ordering an appetizer we didn't plan on or that [click - click] Tiramisu that looks so good and is so ... easy to order. Yummers!
There's an old saying: Once the camel has his nose under the tent, it isn't long before the whole camel is in there with you.
Tent, meet camel. Enjoy your stay.