For some restaurant patrons, waiting for a server to take their order or bring them their bill is a nuisance of the past. Leading chain eateries, including Chili's and Panera, have started using using in-restaurant electronic ordering and payment systems to speed up the process.
Panera has introduced digital kiosk service in 14 of its locations across the country. Customers can order and pay for their meals with a tap of the screen, and then their food is served to them at their table. Those in a bigger rush -- think lunch hour -- can order on an app before they even get to the location, and pick up their brown bags in an express line.
The restaurant plans to expand this technology to 100 stores by the end of the year.
Chili's has taken a different electronic approach. It has installed Ziosk tablets, touted as the "world's first ordering, entertainment and pay at the table tablet," at many of its locations. The 7-inch tabletop tablets are family-friendly, too. Children can play games while they wait for their meals, via the device's interactive Z-Trivia.
Customers can use Ziosk to order drinks, desserts, and pay their tab, but main course orders are still taken by a server in person.
CBS News' Jericka Duncan reports that even more casual restaurants will soon follow the e-order trend, including Applebees and IHOP, which plan to debut a tablet system similar to Ziosk.
"I think the casual dining places do it for two reasons," Adam Rapoport, Editor-in-Chief of Bon Appetit, told CBS News. "One, it sort of expedites the whole process and gets more people in and out the door quicker. And two, it cuts down on labor costs and it's more efficient."
Ziosk says it's not trying to put restaurant wait staff out of work; it claims its machines were created to enhance a diner's experience rather than cut down on labor costs.
The company announced earlier this year that its initial roll-out included 45,000 Ziosk tablets in 823 company-owned Chili's restaurants, and it expects to incorporate its service in nearly every Chili's across the country by this fall.