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TGI Fridays opts to give servers, not guests, a tablet

TGI Fridays is taking a different tack than competitors like Chili’s and Applebee’s in its embrace of order-placement tablets.

The granddaddy of casual dining announced Monday that servers at 80 restaurants will be given eight-inch tablets as replacements for order pads and pens. They will join the order takers at Fridays units in six test markets in instantly transmitting guests’ orders to the kitchen, eliminating the time needed to walk there and back to their stations.

Many competitors have recently outfitted tabletops with tablets and other touch-screen ordering devices, but with the intention of letting guests place their own orders. Fridays approach “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,” the chain said in an announcement of the pending rollout.

The announcement asserted that the tablets would speed table turns and regulate the production of meals so the kitchen isn’t overloaded with orders during peak times.

Fridays noted that the system relies on off-the-shelf tablets running proprietary software. Two thousand of the tablets will be distributed to stores by March. The devices were tested in Texas and Minneapolis.

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