Outback Steakhouse customers will soon be able to pay their bills from their table using their smartphone.
The Tampa, Fla.-based concept is getting ready to release its smartphone app in the fourth quarter of this year, executives from parent company Bloomin’ Brands Inc. said on Tuesday during a call with analysts.
The first iteration of the app is designed to streamline customer visits, enabling diners to add their name to the wait list, check on their status and the length of their wait, and pay at the table when they’re finished.
“We’ve been working on the app for a long time,” Bloomin’ Brands CEO Liz Smith said on the call.
Smith also suggested that the company is working on additional functionality for the app in what would be a second iteration, though she wouldn’t specify what functionality that iteration would add.
A growing number of restaurant chains, including more casual dining concepts, have been working on smartphone apps to streamline service and eliminate pain points, issues that cause customers grief.
Bloomin’ Brands' app would work on two of those issues — the wait list and payment.
The chain’s concepts already have click-through seating on their websites so customers can get on wait lists before they arrive at the restaurant. The Outback app would enable consumers to do that over their smartphone, while also enabling them to see if there is any wait at all.
It would also enable payment at the table, another pain point in casual dining. Many consumers don’t like waiting to pay wait staff. Several chains, such as Chili’s Grill & Bar and Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, have added tablets to tables to enable bill payment and others like Buffalo Wild Wings are planning to test that ability. Outback is taking a different approach by building bill payment into the app.