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Olive Garden: Yet another chain using tablets on tables for ordering

A new trend in dining out is starting to catch on: tablets in addition to servers. Olive Garden is the latest chain to jump on board this trend.



ziosk olive garden

ziosk olive garden

Olive Garden joins the ranks

A new trend in dining out is starting to catch on: tablets in addition to servers. Olive Garden has started installing Ziosk computer tablets at all of its U.S. locations so customers can order and pay by touch screen.

Ziosk offers a tablet at every table, not only to order and pay, but for convenience. Ziosk pushes your loyalty club, enabling customers to sign up right at the table. This also enables your customers to redeem your rewards right at the table as well. Guests can also capture memorable moments at the table using the built-in camera and then upload them to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Customers can also use the built-in tip calculator to figure out what they owe. Once you’ve paid, by swiping your card through the card reader on the tablet, the LED indicator light changes color, letting the server know the check is paid and the customer can leave whenever they are ready. You can choose to print your receipt at the table or email it. After payment has been made, businesses can choose to display a short satisfaction survey, to monitor their dining experience.

Ziosk could become the standard

This could become the new trend in dining because after Olive Garden began trying Ziosk tablet in some of its restaurants last year, those locations experienced faster dining times and increased tip percentages. They will continue to roll out the devices to all their 800+ locations before the end of the year.

Dave George, President of Olive Garden, stated, “We’ve been focused on improving the dining experience at every touch point, and we’re excited to give our guests the ability to customize their visit by leveraging the technology of Ziosk’s tabletop tablets.”

Olive Garden is just the latest chain to jump on the tablet trend. Air ports began installing tablets to allow travelers the ability to have food and drink delivered right to their seats while waiting in the terminal. This is still food-related, but helpful, nonetheless. Ziosk tablets are also being used at Chili’s restaurants and are slated to begin launching at Red Robin’s nationwide.

The benefits of tablets, a trend to watch

Tablets are being used more and more to enhance the customer experience, cut down on wait times, target consumers with promotions in-store, and generally appear like the business is “on trend” with what consumers want. I have seen auto shops use them in place of the old paper number system; crafters and artisans use them so they can receive payment at shows without the need to carry a dedicated credit card reader, and some banks now use them to verify your signature.

Tablets are becoming an important part of doing business and this is definitely a trend to monitor. However, the little tiny voice in the back of my mind wonders how long it will be before someone manages to hack into the Ziosk system and get a free meal, or how this will effect people’s communication skills even further with yet another electronic device to distract them from old-school conversation skills, to high-tech games and apps. Still, the tablet thing is happening and it’s definitely a trend to watch.


Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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  1. Pingback: News about Tablets | IT and CNC Geeks' World

  2. Unclebart

    August 10, 2015 at 1:12 am

    We experienced the Ziosk at Olive Garden for the first time today and considering this is a family style restaurant we thought that it took up valuable table space, was distractive, and we only wanted to order with our server and not figure out some new gadget at a donner table. This thing would be better in a bar, pub, airport environment. We are not happy and will explore other dining choices if they don’t get rid of these things 🙁

  3. tubasteve

    September 6, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    These tablets make it far too eady to incur a charge for their dumb games. We were checking it out and it seemed to indicate unlimited games were $1.99 which led us to assume a single play was free. Nope… $1.99 charge on our bill plus unforgivably slow service means the tablet ate the waiters meager tip.

  4. kneeless

    September 30, 2015 at 2:50 am

    I experienced this for the first time tonight at Olive Garden & am not a fan. I prefer old fashioned customer service and I prefer that to be provided to me by a human being. I will be less inclined to go to Olive Garden & other restaurants that use
    Ziosk or similar methods. Soon we will be paying more and service will be self serve or by robots.

  5. Elf

    October 24, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    The Ziosk does address one primary concern during lunchtime, namely the “Being held Hostage by the Check” dilemma. Many of us would like to have a well-sized lunch that’s delivered and paid for quickly. When coworkers think of going out for lunch, many times the thought is killed by thinking, “Oh, no, we’re going to have to wait an eternity for a table, our food and then even longer to pay.”

    The Ziosk allows my colleagues and I to say, “Elf now has Extra Speed!”

  6. Makq

    November 16, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Here’s the thing. If you’re able to order at the table without waitstaff, and check out without wait staff, wouldn’t it be logical that people are going to make a value decision about that when it comes to tipping the staff? I know at my visit to Olive Garden this weekend (for the first time) I absolutely made that connection.

    Frankly, as tech savvy as I am, there comes a point where it’s just not worth it. I don’t want to play with their machine while I’m having lunch, or try to figure it out merely to order a drink.

    For example, at Olive Garden, they advertise a complementary (1 oz) glass of wine at the beginning of your meal. I wasn’t aware of this, and only noticed that we hadn’t been offered it because the table next to ours was. Do you think I would want to take the time to write out a message to the manager on the tablet or talk to the wait staff? Considering that the wait staff was non existent, it irked me all through the meal. Then to have the tablet “suggest” a tip amount felt like I was being panhandled for it.

  7. LauraH

    December 22, 2015 at 11:26 am

    After using the Ziosk at Olive Garden two hours later had two fraudulent charges on debit card totaling $202.99. Later googled to find that these machines are easy to hack. I will NEVER use one again at any restaurant.

  8. Cherie

    January 30, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    After sitting down at Olive Garden today my 8 yr old was thrilled to see the tablet with games until I found out there was a charge for each game. It’s not the $1.99, it’s the feeling that they are trying to squeeze the last cent out of me. I’m already paying $12 bucks for a 10 cent plate of pasta, come on guys once those apps are purchased there is no charge to play them.

  9. Dennis

    February 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    When I go to a nice restaurant like the Olive Garden, I don’t expect to have to use a terminal to order my food, fnd the kids off from playing games and expose my credit card to insecure POS terminal. I will find other nice Italian restaurants to dine at.

  10. Steve

    February 12, 2016 at 11:50 pm

    I feel that tablets don’t belong onto a dining table, the people who made this decision don’t have any sense for good culture. I will boycott any restaurant that thinks that there is nothing wrong with it, besides the way how they trick you into table games without making it clear that they would charge for it.

  11. Linda OHara

    March 13, 2016 at 11:30 am

    I refused to use the tablet at our table and told our server that I would be paying him directly. When dining with our friends and having a nice conversation, I don’t want to stop and try to figure out their tablet, plus it doesn’t accept coupons since there was no bar coding. So I will only pay the server directly and then leave him a nice tip for his service.

  12. Christy

    April 11, 2016 at 11:05 am

    It’s distracting and I actually tip less when forced to use one. Why should I tip normally when I am clearly not getting the same personal service from my server. In the time it takes a server to explain how to use it, my order could have already been placed and submitted by the server directly to the kitchen using the old school order ticket.

  13. Charlotte Moore

    May 3, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    My son and I stopped at Olive Garden to have a nice lunch together and were completely shocked to find a tablet in place of a server! We both thought it was completely ridiculous! First of all we couldn’t seem to place our order…it kept jumping to the children’s menu! So we tried pushing the button to call a server, but no one showed up! We ended up walking out of the restaurant, completely disappointed! We will NEVER go back!

  14. Brian

    May 16, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Forget you Olive Garden. I absolutely HATE that Ziosk / Kiosk thing on my table. Takes up WAY too much space and everyone including myself spends WAY too much time looking at screens nowadays. I put it on the floor and when the waitress told me I had to pay for the meal using that thing I told her to do it herself. To add to the frustration the food quality is worse than ever, and it took 45 minutes to get our 2 children spaghetti with tomato sauce??? While we already had our meals (which the kids wouldn’t like the taste of). Poor kids had to sit there with no food, all while waiting for something that should take about 3 minutes in an italian restaurant. STUPID waitress had no understanding of this or compassion for the situation. What a total loser and abhor-able place now. I will NEVER go back on my dime. I love technology as much as the next millennial, but get that garbage of flashing advertisement out of my and my family’s face.

    • DK

      July 6, 2016 at 2:01 am

      Brian, you prefer they take the card away from the table? That system needs to go away quick! I like the European method where the card never ever ever leaves the table. Ever.

  15. John

    June 11, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    Just finished a meal at Olive Garden and I could not agree more. I refuse to use the Ziosk or allow my credit card to be swiped on one. Also noticed the prices have gone up again! There are too many places to eat and once the novelty of these things wears off, maybe they will wake up.

  16. DK

    July 6, 2016 at 1:59 am

    I like the pay at the table part.

    But that’s it. Most people SHOULD like this feature. I am NOT comfortable with my credit card leaving the table. They should force people to use it to pay so servers won’t be tempted to take away the cards like at Chili’s or Applebee’s because they feel “it’s easier” than letting me swipe my own card.

  17. Fred Nottingham

    August 10, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    The thing on our table was defective and froze up like some 1990s technology and it took more than a half hour to check out. The Darden exec who devised this one should be perpetually subjected to it.

  18. Craig Morrison

    December 24, 2018 at 10:08 am

    I no longer dine at Olive Garden, Smokey Bones, and now add Applebees to this list. When I go to a restaurant, I prefer to be “waited on” and have someone to ask what the specials are and make recommendations. If I wanted to place my order by tablet, I would simply order on-line and take the food home. But, sadly, they do not offer any food that I can’t make at home myself, so where is the benefit? My opinion is that if I go to a restaurant that has a tablet, because I did not expect it, I ask them to remove it from the table. And, I will no longer dine there in the future.

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