1. Digital Waitlists:
Restaurants are discovering virtual wait lists. Yelp Nowait is available at 4,000 restaurants including Chili’s, Dave & Buster’s, First Watch and Another Broken Egg. It allows diners to check on table times and put their name on a waitlist without entering the restaurant. Olive Garden has been offering the service since the end of 2016.
Related story: Can tech level the playing field for casual dining?
2. Car Ordering:
Last year, General Motors introduced Marketplace for ordering and paying for food and making dinner reservations while driving one of its cars. Participating casual dining brands include TGI Fridays, Applebee’s and IHOP.
3. Voice-activated devices:
Denny’s and TGI Fridays are taking advantage of touchless ordering offered through Amazon Alexa.
In late 2017, the social media giant launched ordering directly on its online site and app. Most restaurants are limited service chains such Panera Bread and Five Guys, but some independent dine-in restaurants are starting to take advantage.
5. 2.0 Tablets:
Expect more bells and whistles as touchscreen tablet systems gain momentum. New options include chip readers, and Apple Pay. Some restaurants are also outfitting servers with handheld devices to take orders, and off tableside payment.