As Fast Food Workers Go On Strike In 100 Cities, Applebees Unveils The "Waiter Terminator"

Tyler Durden's picture

Today, in the latest escalation by minimum paid restaurant workers who demand greater wages, Fast-food workers and labor organizers are set to turn out in support of higher wages in cities across the country Thursday and walkouts are planned in 100 cities, with rallies set for another 100 cities. While it's not clear what the actual turnout will be, how many of the participants are workers and what impact they'll have on restaurant operations, it is possible that your 99 cent lunch may be delayed or outright cancelled today.

Per the AP:

The actions would mark the largest showing yet over the past year. At a time when there's growing national and international attention on economic disparities, labor unions, worker advocacy groups and Democrats are hoping to build public support to raise the federal minimum wage of $7.25, or about $15,000 a year for full-time work.


In New York City, about 100 protesters carrying signs, blowing whistles and beating drums marched into a McDonald's at around 6:30 a.m.; one startled customer grabbed his food and fled as they flooded the restaurant, while another didn't look up from eating and reading amid their chants of "We can't survive on $7.25!"

It seems trying to persuade these minimum wage workers to enjoy what they have - namley that corporations have all the leverage while unskilled, undereducated employees have none (the Service Employees International Union represents more than 2 million workers, on the other hand there are 91 million non-unionized workers out of the workforce) and that any increases in wages would simply be passed on to other consumers, and certainly result in broad terminations to keep the SG&A line flat - is probably a moot point.

So instead the strikers were met with something a bit more persuasive: brute Police force.

Community leaders took turns giving speeches for about 15 minutes until the police arrived and ordered protesters out of the store. The crowd continued to demonstrate outside for about 45 more minutes while a handful of customers remained inside. A McDonald's manager declined to be interviewed and asked that customers not be bothered.


Tyeisha Batts, a 27-year-old employee at Burger King, was among those taking part in the demonstrations planned throughout the day in New York City. She said she has been working at the location for about seven months and earns $7.25 an hour.


"My boss took me off the schedule because she knows I'm participating," Batts said.

Considering there are a few hundred thousand applicants for your position , Ms. Batts, we find that perfectly explainable. Then again, if you are unhappy with your position, you are welcome to quit and find a better paying job. Especially since in the very near future you may not even have the option of choosing, as it will be done for you. Earlier this week, restaurant chain Applebees unveiled what may soon be the "Waiter Terminator."

From the company's press release: "Applebee’s steps into the future to redefine and enhance the guest experience through the installation of 100,000 E la Carte Presto tablets, powered by Intel, on every table and multiple bar positions at more than 1,800 Applebee’s restaurants in the United States by the end of next year."

The LA Times reports:

The E La Carte Presto tablets – powered by Intel – will allow patrons to pay from their seats while also adding food and beverages to their existing orders. A pilot program helped customers save time, according to Applebee’s Glendale-based parent DineEquity.


Let’s face it, everyone who has ever been to a restaurant has been frustrated by waiting for their check,” said Mike Archer, Applebee’s president, in a statement.


Eventually, the gadgets will also feature an expanded lineup of games, video streaming capabilities, music options, gift card sales and social media interaction. The Presto tablets, which were developed at MIT, have been “ruggedized” to deal with the spills and rowdy children common in such restaurants, according to the company.

And the punchline:

In the pilot program, the Presto tablets not only significantly reduced transaction times for guests, but also provided them a better overall experience, based on their feedback. By simplifying the transaction process and allowing guests to control the timing, Team Members were able to provide better service and more attention to guest needs throughout the dining experience, rather than focusing on delivering a check.

Also, much more time to work on their resume. In other words, Applebees is already taking steps at outsourcing its minimum wage waiters with tablets. Which incidentally is a brilliant idea, especially in a cost-cutting environment. So brilliant in fact that others are already joining in..

DineEquity said it might consider introducing the tablets at its IHOP restaurant chain as well. The company joins many others in the industry that have begun incorporating technology into the customer experience, installing ordering kiosks, equipping servers with mobile devices and more.

In other words, a funny thing happened as fast food workers were striking across the land - they were all just made obsolete courtesy of iPads.

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Colonel Klink's picture

Crapplebees!  No thanks.  I'll skip most chain restaurants.

idea_hamster's picture

"Presto tablets ... provided them a better overall experience"

Ah, yes - we love our devices and shun interpersonal interactions. Someone post the pic of the Simpsons kids hugging the television.

insanelysane's picture

Actually a study was done a long time ago when ATMs came out.  It found that humans find it demoralizing to be treated like shit by other humans more so than by a machine.  

So when the bank teller or food order taker has an attitude problem or attention deficit issue or has the intelligence of a male field mouse's left testicle, the human on the other side of the transaction would rather be dealing with an impersonal machine even if that machine is experiencing technical difficulties.

Pladizow's picture

No attitude, no mistakes, no tip, no spit - who wouldnt prefer these?

krispkritter's picture

I wonder if there will be a random insult app so they can generate fake receipts and 15 minutes of fame/infamy for the server:  After crap like this, who wouldn't want an automated checkout system?

Atlasshruggedme's picture

Went to Chili's or Applebees in Chicago a couple months back... They arleady had something like this.. but a drone did have to bring me the food.

jbvtme's picture

i don't eat out any more. too risky

ACP's picture

The bastions of socialism will just pass laws outlawing those things. Oregon already outlawed self-serve gas a long time ago.

TruthInSunshine's picture

The soon-to-be BernankeYellen 'Value' Meal:

(Oh, they'll get the inflation they want, that's "good for the economy")

1)  Big Mac

2) Large french fries

3) Medium soft drink


And hundreds of thousands of franchisees (not just McDonald's) cried out as customers say either "screw it, let's eat at Texas Roadhouse - might as well," -OR- let's further deleverage down, you know, and "let's cook food on that stove 'thing' we have at home."

johnQpublic's picture

ate at applebees that had those tablets a little over a week ago

the games sucked, but i liked the tablet better than the 60 year old obvious chain smoker woman who brought us our food and insisted on pointing to things with her overly long pinky fingernail

TruthInSunshine's picture

Near Future of Fast Food in BernankeYellen-wasteland:

Enjoy Your EXXXTRA Big Ass Fries
flacon's picture

I don't eat out because I don't like people. 

Jack Napier's picture

Overpriced average restaurant seeks rise of the machines to keep business afloat. Zombies welcome.

Ying-Yang's picture

"Applebees is already taking steps at outsourcing its minimum wage waiters with tablets."

And pay tips with Bitcoin.... /sarc

AldousHuxley's picture

self serv yogurt places

redbox $1 per DVD kiosks


you live in the richest country in the world and can't offer more than what a dumb machine can then you failed in life. BTW, social  benefits from taxes are paying for your lifestyle not minimum wage.

Canary Paint's picture

Admittedly, my sample size is small, but I was in the States recently for the first time in just over 2 years. Everywhere I went, I was blown over by the level of customer service as compared to France. It is not that French customer service people are outright rude, but they certainly aren't worried about the level of politeness and service that I got almost everywhere in the States rather it was a gas station, a clothing store, or a restaurant. As far as restaurants were concerned, I did only go to independently owned places. No chains... I could only guess that the competition made people nicer.

After all the disparaging remarks about servers above, I couldn't help but wonder if y'all are simply a bunch of douchebags whose lives reflect the nature of your interaction with other humans.

Being a service worker has its own challenges. No... You don't have to be a rocket scientist, but it is nuanced enough that there are big differences between doing it well, well enough, or badly.

Zero Point's picture

Yeah, I had friends just come back from the states, that were blown away by the levels of service there.

In fact, they were quite impressed with the yanks all round.

Might have just been holiday syndrome, but I don't think so.

They didn't go to any shitty areas though.

Homernomics's picture

They didn't go through LAX, that's for sure.  One of the surliest and most unfriendly places on the planet.  My home town, I feel sorry for tourists everytime I fly in our out of there.

W.M. Worry's picture

Quote: After all the disparaging remarks about servers above, I couldn't help but wonder if y'all are simply a bunch of douchebags whose lives reflect the nature of your interaction with other humans.

You are exactly right.

Lordflin's picture

A corolary to your point...I could employ sarcasm here, but I will state it straight up. You folks might want to consider the cheering on of obsolescence. Most of you work in information related occupations... an easy match for a machine. The fact that people are being relagated to the dustbin accomplishes what... exactly?

I suppose it comes down to what you think of as the purpose of life. I always considered this to be the spirtual well being and improvement of myself and my fellow man.

chemystical's picture

"...offer more than what a dumb machine can then you failed in life"

Ask your wife's vibrator about that.  Maybe there's a division of labor thing going on there such that you get cuddling afterward duty and spider killing duty.

Central Bankster's picture

Are either of you typing english?!


I have NEVER eaten at a Applesleeze and there is one fairly close to my home. That is because I did eat at O'Charley's restaurant ONCE and it was crap  so I figured Applesleeze would be just about as bad. Spit would be a flavor enhancer at these eateries.

mick_richfield's picture

Well .. couldn't you just get a salad or something?

TruthInSunshine's picture

Yes, the BernankeYellen McValue salad, with hedonistic adjustment ensuring it's 100% non-nutricous iceberg lettuce (a 2.5 ounce lump wedge with 1000 Island dressing on top) will be $6.99.

FrankDrakman's picture

WTF are you talking about? I went to a steak house in Chicago a decade ago, and, intrigued, ordered a 'wedge salad'. Couldn't believe I was charged $10 for 1/3 of a head of iceberg, a sliced tomato, all drizzled in dressing. Yours sounds like a freakin' bargain in comparison

AldousHuxley's picture

when you go out to eat, you are paying for service and the ambiance, tips + taxes



Pure Evil's picture

That little bit extra you paid was for the Obama ambiance.

Citxmech's picture

Not that I will EVER go to a f’n Applebee’s – but the thought of sitting in a room full of anti-social lard-asses all transfixed by glowing brain-suck machines is perhaps even more unappetizing than the shit food they serve.

That’s actually one of the things I like about the local eateries I do frequent – a warm cozy room full of people enjoying each other’s company along with good, locally sourced food. 


If I wanted to bask among anti-social iPhone addicts – I’d eat Taco Bell on the bus.

Lore's picture

Re: "the thought of sitting in a room full of anti-social lard-asses all transfixed by glowing brain-suck machines is perhaps even more unappetizing than the shit food they serve."

HA!  hahaha

I have a friend -- lady, senior citizen -- who recently arranged to spend the day with her six grandchildren.  They went out to lunch.  When they were seated, the children pulled out their trinkets and immediately began texturbating. THE ENTIRE LUNCH UNFOLDED IN SILENCE.  She was flabbergasted and felt quite alienated and hurt -- another victim of the zombification of America.

My only requirement for accepting these new E-La-Cartes is that they accept cash. No cash, no business. Oh, and I expect reduction in prices.

AldousHuxley's picture



solves a lot of, expenses, parenting, etc.

Lore's picture

I'm actually a pretty good cook, but it's also good to get out once in a while for a treat and change of scene. Living like a hermit has its own cost. If you can splurge and know a good place locally, support it. 

TruthInSunshine's picture

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.

You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
your name.


Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Excellent Lore. The key is never patronizing chain restaurants. They make their money through volume so they hastily throw the food at you hoping you will wolf it down and leave fast. A cursory view of the other wide girthed patrons will convince you their customer base is fulfilling their expectations. We often go to a small French restaurant in Kensington. The food is wonderful but we have noticed people have complained that the service is not good. We found that ridiculous but realized Americans are used to being rushed through meals and have forgotten how to savor food, wine and the company whom your are sharing the experience. We can't afford to go out often but when we do it must be a sensory event to be remembered.


MontgomeryScott's picture

@ Lore:



greatbeard's picture

>> because I don't like people.

I don't eat out for several reasons, none of which is I don't like people.  I insist on controlling the contents of my meals, especially the fat, salt and sugar.  Doing that with restaurant meals is darned near impossible.  I don't like paying $1 for $.25 of food, then tipping someone for bringing it ( I don't mind tipping, I just avoid paying someone to do what I can do better myself). I'm a chronic hand washer and clean freak with my cooking.  I've worked in restaurants and know the average kitchen monkey doesn't share my zeal. I don't go anywhere, anywhere, without my dog.  I like my dog better than any person.

There are plenty of other good reasons not to eat in restaurants.  Fighting the corporate take over of everything in our lives is a good one.  Not liking people is an obvious good one. 

jimmytorpedo's picture

Hear hear Greatbeard!

My 5 dogs and I eat better then the Hedgless Horseman.

I've work every type of line in my life (ship. diner, 4 star Michelin)

I've eaten out once in 5 years.

That was on a 4 day trip to the US to p/u a horse.

I ate home grown apples and home made beef jerky the rest of the 3.5 days.

My wife made us stop.

The steers name was Stu and they were russet apples.

greatbeard's picture

>> The steers name was Stu

We would travel well together.  That's my kind of road food.  The worst thing about traveling is road food, that's why I bring my own.  If you are what you eat, most people are garbage.

Leraconteur's picture

"I'm a chronic hand washer and clean freak with my cooking. I don't go anywhere, anywhere, without my dog."

You go to restaurants with an animal that eats its own feces and cleans its anus with its own tongue, yet you are a clean freak.

Yeah, you are full of shit.

greatbeard's picture

>> You go to restaurants with an animal

And you are a stupid fuck that is clearly a product of lower end public education.  I stated right off the bat that I "DON'T" eat in restaurants.  What the fuck is so difficult to understand about the word DON'T, you ignorant fucking cretin.

Jerome Lester Horwitz's picture

People...what a bunch of bastards!

MontgomeryScott's picture

I like girls.

I DO 'eat out', if they're clean, pretty, and willing.


I feel sorry for you, 'flacon'.

Tom of the Missouri's picture

Says a lot about ZH readers that flacon's comment has the most like votes of all.   Yeah, I liked it, too. 

smlbizman's picture

greenturtle in towson md....250,000 tax payer forgivable loan for improvements...fuck these chain cocksuckers and these fucking cunt connected politicians...roll the motherfucking local....

Lore's picture

Re: "shop local...."

That slogan gets regurgitated a lot, but it's too simplistic and fits too neatly into "green" communitarian ideology.  A lot of local places in my area actively gouge on that basis, jacking prices for some things as much as 500%.  To hell with that!  A better slogan might be "SHOP AROUND AND BUY LOCAL WHEN IT'S COMPETITIVE." 

NuckingFuts's picture

That thinking is why Walmart rules the world and why there are no US manufactuing jobs.  Thanks for doing your part, glad you saved money.  The business I own is in local food.  Ya, it costs more.   I don't hire mexicans.  MY LOCAL FOOD MIGHT BE MORE COMPETITIVE IF I USED NON-LOCAL LABOR.

Lore's picture

I respect your position, but doubt its validity in this changing market.  Please hear me out. 

Grocery prices -- in my area, at least -- have begun fluctuating wildly, within stores from day to day, between stores, and between competitors.  Something is happening that has caused prices for things we need -- like perishables (produce, etc.) -- to rise about 25% across the board since Q1 2013.  Some things are up about 300% no matter where you shop or what sale is on.  (And of course, things get jacked about 20% with Christmas approaching, but that usually fades around the end of January.)

Wal-Mart may have been competitive at one time due simply to economies of scale, aggressive procurement and cheap labour, but THAT ISN'T ENOUGH NOW. WAL-MART PRICES ARE NO LONGER COMPETITIVE.  I CAN GET BETTER DEALS LOCALLY BY SHOPPING AROUND -- watching the flyers, clipping the coupons, buying specials.  It requires organizational skill and foresight re: things you are low on, but can be done with little effort.  IT IS NOW POSSIBLE TO BUY LOCALLY AND SAVE MORE MONEY. 

Wal-Mart may be handicapped by cash flow, procurement, distribution and other internal issues, but that doesn't explain why prices in general are up so much.  I would appreciate opinions in that regard, as you see nothing about it in local papers or journals.  I suspect it is the first rumbling of serious inflation "in things we need."  Rgds

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Our local farmers market is either on par with grocery store or beats them. Besides, I like to meet my farmer. A commercial farmer is not paid to produce healthful produce. He is paid a rate per pound to produce " pretty" fruits and vegetables because the ignorant shoppers of today will only by unblemished produce. So you have beautiful uniform oranges that stack well in a pile but taste like the cardboard box in which they were shipped.

My other strategy is to shop the farmers market at closing and haggle a bit when there is some motivation on the seller's side.


smlbizman's picture

to fine tune my point for local...doesnt mean getting the cheapest price...the cost you pay for the cheapest price has a tremendous cost...locals of all kinds pay better wages, have more integrity for the most like always eventually get what you pay as walfucks kill all family and small biz, you and ur community than reap what they have sown...and its not a fair trade by any means....