One restaurant we have gone too has new computers on the tables. We have gone a few times so I am used to seeing it. You can order your meals, play games or trivia on these tablet like devices. It never found it impersonal as I didn't pay much attention to it until it has showed up in a bother restaurant. First at Chili's now at Olive Garden.
We ate out the other night at Olive Garden and the devices were there. One table I observed a child playing on it ( I was told as I was seated games were unlimited for $1.99)the whole duration I was there. Another table that was sat after me immediately passed it over to their toddler.
My waiter instructed us when we ordered that we needed to put our kids meal request in the system. But he was standing there and just took all our other orders! He preceded to attempt to use the machine but failed horribly. So he took pen to paper and went back to old school order taking to complete our order.
At the end of our meal we again were directed to the device to pay our bill. That didn't work our well again. With a swipe of the card and no response we still handed over the card to be ran through the original register.
Bottom line is what is the point of these devices? To speed the process up? To entertain people young and old which leads to happier patrons overall? To free up waitstaff to do their job more quickly and efficient? To make things less personal between a restaurant, the waitstaff and their customers?
I personally as a customer like the interaction. People need to talk. Some of us have special requests, our kids certainly don't need to be trained to play games (for entertainment or shushed up) at the table, are we tipping for half the service if we are placing our order on a computer making us do half the work?
I hope this is just a phase and the devices will go away. Bring back the waitstaff so that we can chat.