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TGI Fridays tests new ldquoFridays Service Stylerdquo technology with tablet
<p>TGI Fridays tests new &ldquo;Fridays Service Style&rdquo; technology with tablet</p>

TGI Fridays, Hardee’s test new technologies

Casual-dining chain tries tablets while burger brand tests kiosks

TGI Fridays Inc. and CKE Restaurants Inc. are testing new tablet and kiosk technologies, supplier Microsoft Corp. said Monday.

Carrolton, Texas-based TGI Fridays is testing server-held, eight-inch tablets to process orders and payments tableside at restaurants in Minnesota and Texas. Carpinteria, Calif.-based CKE is piloting kiosks at 30 restaurants, including one specially redesigned kiosk restaurant in Nashville, Tenn., Microsoft said.

Fridays’ tablet test uses new “Fridays Service Style” technology based on Windows 8.1 with Oracle's MICROS Restaurant Enterprise Solution (RES) 5.4 on the Dell Venue mTablet E-Series mobile point-of-sale devices, the Redmond, Wash.-based software company said.

Competitors such as Brinker International’s Chili’s Grill & Bar and DineEquity’s Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar have rolled out tabletop tablets that allow customers to order some items and pay via credit card at their convenience.

However, TGI Fridays said it was intent on maintaining interaction between service staff and guests.

“We've always prided ourselves on giving our guests the best experience possible, particularly in their interactions with our people,” said Tripp Sessions, TGI Fridays’ chief information officer.

“Windows 8 gave us a platform that allowed us to develop a new user interface, which gives our servers even better tools to delight our guests and make their experience even more enjoyable,” Sessions said.

Many restaurant tablets rely on proprietary hardware or “custom ruggedized devices built to withstand the abuse of a kitchen environment,” Microsoft said in a press release. But “such solutions can be expensive and take a long time to develop and deploy,” the company said.
The server-held device “puts the technology in the hands of the Fridays people, preserving the experience they can offer guests, rather than using tabletop technology that would reduce their interactions,” Microsoft said.

TGI Fridays has completed a six-city pilot in Minnesota and Texas. “It will deploy the tablets in 80 additional restaurants, with more than 2,000 tablets by March,” Microsoft said in its statement.

Microsoft showcased its quick-service kiosk self-order solution for CKE Monday at the National Retail Federation's Annual Convention & EXPO in New York.

CKE kiosks use the Dell Optiplex 3030 All-in-One devices, Microsoft said. Some Hardee's and Carl's Jr. franchisees have already tested kiosk ordering.

“Our target market of young, hungry Millennials, as well as younger and older customers, love the new ordering kiosks,” said Tom Lindblom, CKE’s senior vice president and chief technology officer.

“The self-ordering kiosk gives the customer a fun, interactive and user-friendly way to control their order,” Lindblom said in a statement.

The kiosks lets customers place, customize and review their menu selections, as well as pay for purchases. The device can double as an employee POS when needed, the companies said.

Managers can run various sales and shift reports, and employees can use the kiosks to clock in and out for shifts and breaks.

CKE reported that one out of every three customers at the Nashville location used the kiosks for placing orders.

More on the customer order kiosks at Hardee's >>

At the end of the Nov. 17-ended third quarter, CKE operated or franchised 1,292 Carl’s Jr. restaurants and 1,917 Hardee’s units.

TGI Fridays has 900 casual-dining restaurants worldwide, with 535 locations in the U.S.

Contact Ron Ruggless at [email protected].
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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