Chili’s replaces its menus with tablets

The items on the menu at Chili’s may not have changed much in the last decade – baby back ribs and quesadillas, anyone? — but the format of those menus just got a major overhaul. Bar-and-grill chain Chili’s announced Tuesday that it’s finished installing tablets at the tables of 823 company-owned restaurants in the U.S. Customers can use the tablets to order food and drinks and pay their bills.

Chili’s, which is owned by Dallas-based Brinker International(s eat), is using specially optimized (and ruggedized) Android tablets mounted on stands made by Ziosk. Each terminal not only contains Chili’s menu, but a few entertainment features as well: you can play a few Android games and check in on Facebook(s fb), using the Ziosk tablet’s built in camera.

When it’s time to leave, you can swipe your credit card on a built-in reader, scan in coupons and leave a tip, all without interacting with the server. As soon as the payment is processed, the tablet resets, erasing the history and login credentials of everyone at the table. Hopefully the busboy remembers to wipe down the screen before the next table is seated — that rib sauce is sticky.

We’ve been starting to hear a lot more about tabletop tablets in restaurants and surprisingly it’s the casual bar and grill chains that are leading the way. Applebee’s recently signed a deal with E la Carte to distribute nearly 100,000 tablets across its restaurants. Buffalo Wild Wings is doing a chain-wide rollout of Buzztime’s Playmaker tablet.