Ziosk seeks to transform casual dining with tablets

Olive Garden adding tablets
Olive Garden adding tablets   

Olive Garden announced on Tuesday it will roll out tablets that allow guests to order, cash out and play games at their table at its more than 800 U.S. restaurants.

The Darden brand is the latest to buy into the tech made by Ziosk. In a recent note, financial services firm Sterne Agee said Ziosk's product could transform the industry and help casual-dining restaurants compete with fast-casual companies such as Chipotle.

Ziosk's primary goal is to drive traffic to its customer's locations by improving guest satisfaction, said Austen Mulinder, Ziosk CEO. By streamlining the payment and ordering process, restaurants can turn over tables about seven or eight minutes faster, he said.

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Tablets at your restaurant table: Ziosk CEO
Tablets at your restaurant table: Ziosk CEO   

Sterne Agee sees the games function improving customer retention as kids lobby their parents to visit restaurants with Ziosk tablets.

The stations are also giving restaurants feedback on what the guests enjoyed and where there is room for improvement, Mulinder added.

"The key thing is they're getting more guest insight than they've ever had before because of the survey function. A high percentage of the guests are taking advantage of that," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

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Asked whether automating some aspects of dining out could be perceived as cheapening the experience, Mulinder said customers who prefer to interact exclusively with a waiter can ignore the tablets.

Ziosk is focusing on casual-dining restaurants, he said, but added there may be opportunities to expand into quick-serve restaurants such as McDonald's, which has indicated it may explore ways of improving sales to guests who dine in at its locations.