Last night I took my two youngest girls to dinner and came out with a startling realization about our society and the direction it is moving.

It was mommy-daughters night and I was looking forward to a nice relaxing evening of dinner and then Dolphin Tale 2. After much debate over whether we would dine at Italian or Mexican, during which time I provided a full list of items we could choose at either food genre, we ended up at Chili’s Bar and .

The first thing I noticed upon walking through the double doors into the land of chili pepper logos and hot sizzling fajitas, was some sort of electronic device on top of all the tables.

I was suspicious from first glance. Why has this alien electronic device now made its way to the tabletops of a mainstream American restaurant? They are ugly and distracting, completely taking away from the already questionable ambience and dining experience.

“What are those things on the table?” I asked my hostess.

“Oh! Those are our new Ziosks! It is an electronic drink order machine,” she told me in a perky voice, obviously proud of this newer addition to the establishment.

I soon found out that this Ziosk is so much more than a way to order drinks. You can call for your server, add things to your order, pay your bill, and for a mere .99 (which is automatically added to your bill), kids can have  unlimited game playing.

We sat down at our table and the girls automatically grabbed one of these Ziosks and started playing with it like it is an iPod.

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I reminded my girls about our “no electronics at the table” rule, and broke the news that they will not be allowed to play with this Ziosk.

“But mom there are so many fun games on here!” they cried, their disappointment at girls night out already palpable. “I know,” I said. “Now hand it over please because this is how I am required to order my margarita.”

This Ziosk was making me so uncomfortable I felt like leaving. Did we now need an electronic device on every table to order food, pay our bill and tempt children with anti-social restaurant entertainment.  What happened to good old-fashioned conversation with one other? Like, hey kids, did you have a good day at school today?  Who did you play with? What jobs did you work on?

I was sad. I looked around at every table I could see, a total of six tables, and noticed that at each table someone was face deep in their iPhone. At some tables, the kids were playing the .99 games on the Ziosk. Absolutely nobody was talking to each other.

I think it is depressing to see children playing on devices at restaurants. They sit like zombies starting at a screen, oblivious to what is going on in society. Are they even required to look up from their screens to order their own food? Or say, “please” or “thank you”?

Now Chili’s is perpetuating this problem in hopes of attracting more families and more money into their big red chili pepper corporation, at the expense of healthy family dynamics.

When my server arrived at my table to check if I needed anything, one of my daughter’s had jumped tables to find an open Ziosk. The other daughter jumped on this opportunity and quickly snatched the one on our table. Within 30 seconds, both of my children had been able to easily accept the offer to play video games for .99, and were involved in an intense game of Plants vs. Zombies.

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(Enter Dolphin Tale 2 Spoiler Alert)

Later that night while watching Dolphin Tale 2, I teared up six different times. I could’ve gone into a full-blown ugly cry when Panama dies, his lifeless dolphin body lying motionless on the bottom of the pool. The movie was touching, but really it shouldn’t have created that intense of an emotional response. I think the tears were because of the Ziosk and all that it symbolizes in our culture.  The Ziosk is just one more thing that parents have to control. It is just one more notch in our culture’s slow and steady decline of healthy social connection.

Since first discovering the Ziosk’s at Chili’s, I have also seen them at Applebee’s and Johnny Rockets.

Down with the Ziosk!

Until the next time, the mothership is signing off.

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Hey Chili’s, Please Remove Your Ziosks
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11 thoughts on “Hey Chili’s, Please Remove Your Ziosks

  • September 22, 2014 at 3:54 pm
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    How right you are!!!!!!!!!
    Aunt Dee

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  • September 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm
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    Meg, I think you should send this to the corporate office of Chili’s. Maybe add that you won’t be taking your family for dining at their restaurants any more, because of their new addition to the tables.
    Now, if it were an optional gadget, for adults to order drinks upon request, maybe…. But take the kiddie games off!!!
    You know, though, there are going to be those families who LOVE this device to keep their little ones “quiet”. Just like home.

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    • August 28, 2016 at 3:07 pm
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      It is not the restaurant’s fault that her kids are playing games on it. If she really doesn’t want her kids to play on it then just not pay for it or take it away. There is also games of li it for the whole family to play such as trivia. And it’s not just a ‘tablet’ you can also use it to order items on the menu and pay for the check.

      Reply
  • September 22, 2014 at 8:53 pm
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    This kind of change in society makes me want to run for the hills. It’s just too much for me. I’m appalled (yes, appalled) by computer screens at my family dinner table. I love time for my family to enjoy their devices, but at the dinner table? It’s destroying our human experience. Huge miss for Chiles in my opinion, and enough so that my family will not be eating there. Thanks so much for sharing this.

    I TOTALLY agree with Joy that you should share this article with Chiles corporate!

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  • September 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm
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    I probably should have checked my spelling on Chili’s

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  • September 23, 2014 at 10:13 am
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    Ahhhh . . . and so it is . . . the “pendulum” always finds it center . . . with time.

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  • September 23, 2014 at 10:34 am
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    I have seen these ziosks. It was a low point for me in thr Spring of 2014. I found myself eating some wings at Chili’s after a tough meeting with a customer. The ziosk at my table was covered in greese or snot or both. It was totally disguisting. I couldn’t even bring myself to order a refill of my diet coke.

    Reply
  • September 23, 2014 at 7:17 pm
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    Being an old timer, I couldn’t agree more with all the above comments.
    I’m making sure my daughter reads this, so she knows others agree with me. Nicholas / Bianca (Grandchildren)Watch out!!

    Reply
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  • January 13, 2015 at 9:03 pm
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    Amen! I felt the same way the first time we experienced those THINGS!

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  • December 10, 2015 at 12:50 am
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    Oh geez! A little dramatic don’t you think? I like the table top tablets. There so much fun and you can play or communicate with other people in the restaurant. Besides you can play together or as teams. It’s a new era. Get with it or get left behind. But you’ll be left out of what really going on.

    Reply

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