This weekend, I had my first experience with a table-based mobile device at a chain restaurant. Different from the game systems many of us have seen, this one allowed you to order, check your bill, swipe and pay via credit card, and email yourself a receipt. My first thought was that it was more of a novelty than a useful device. By the time the meal was over, however, I realized why Chilis was investing in them. Our order was accurate, the server was able to focus on keeping us happy versus ferrying orders, bills, and credit cards back and forth and last but not least, we were in and out probably 20% faster than without the device. I found the experience more satisfying because I had more control over the order accuracy and most of all, not having to wait for the server to run credit cards. I did a quick search and found a slightly different and very valid perspective on the device - it is yet another distraction that sucks away from our ability to talk to one another and not act like mobile/electronic zombies (http://www.measurecp.com/2011/11/why-im-not-a-fan-of-chilis-tablet-kiosk/).
The technology was likely installed to increase the number of bills paid per table. Similar to a taxi driver going 100 mph to maximize # of fares paid per hour or Southwest airlines' famous rapid turnarounds to keep planes flying (if they aren't flying, they aren't generating revenue), Chili's is smartly maximizing bills per table per hour. I am sure the technology REALLY comes in handy when there are multiple bills per table. Good use of technology Chili's. Now we can all get fatter quicker.