Imagine arriving at a restaurant for dinner and the food you ordered while driving there is waiting for you — at your table and not in a bag filled with plastic containers.
The country’s largest casual dining company, which oversees 3,720 IHOP and Applebee’s Grill & Bar restaurants, may become the first full-service restaurant operator to turn this scenario into reality.
Dine Brands is developing and testing an app that in theory allows diners to show up at a busy restaurant and be immediately seated in addition to having their food served upon their arrival and their final check delivered via the app, The Post has learned.
What could amount to an HOV lane for tech users would all but eliminate frustrating wait times associated with being seated, having an order taken and a bill delivered and paid.
“It’s like converting casual dining to fast food,” Stephen Joyce, the new CEO of Dine Brands, told The Post.
Like many of its rivals, Dine Brands is cribbing from the fast food industry as rising labor costs and competition from newcomers squeeze already skimpy margins.
Plus, same-store sales at US Applebee’s have fallen in each of the last two years and trailed the average casual dining chain. Added technology, restaurants hope, will lure younger customers and boost spending.
Electronic kiosks like those at a growing number of McDonald’s restaurants that take customers’ orders and process their payments are just the tip of the iceberg.
Turns out that diners spend more money when they order from one of those kiosks or from an app or table-top device, according to industry experts.
“Many of the casual dining brands are looking to take a page out of the fast food playbook,” said Erik Thoresen, principal at food service restaurant firm, Technomic. “They’ve had a real wake-up call.”
McDonald’s is adding the kiosks to 1,000 US restaurants per quarter over the next two years, a move it hopes will improve its sagging US business.
It’s no wonder that full-service restaurants, where diners are seated by a hostess and receive table service, are embracing all things digital.
“We are a company that is remaking itself,” Joyce added, pointing to new promotions like those at Applebee’s including $1 margaritas and all-you-can-eat riblets with a Blue Moon beer that ran in January that are meant to stop the steady defection of its customers.
But those deals alone are not enough to satisfy today’s demand for convenience.
“We have to put more control in the consumers’ hands,” Joyce argues.
The app is likely an industry first, say Dine Brands execs.
“The thought process here is to have the guest place their order before they arrive at the restaurant,” explained Dine Brands’ Adrian Butler, the chief information officer.
CREDIT: NY POST
“And when they arrive their order is brought out. It dramatically reduces th