By Hilary Russ
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fast-food chicken chain Chick-fil-A is turning the tables on in-house dining, unveiling a new sit-down table service through its app that means customers will not have to wait at the counter to order.
On Thursday, the privately owned restaurant operator announced "dine-in mobile ordering," when guests in or on their way to a store can order through the Chick-fil-A app on their mobile phones.
After finding a seat, guests tap their phones to their corresponding table numbers and an employee will bring the meal to the table.
Most big restaurant operators are trying out new technology - at drive-thrus, counters, kitchens and delivery services - to speed food orders.
In September, McDonald's Corp <MCD.N> acquired Apprente, a voice-technology startup focused initially on drive-thru ordering, with plans to look later at using new voice technology for mobile ordering or kiosks.
In tests that began last year at 80 Chick-fil-A stores in five local markets, large parties and families with children in particular said they liked the dine-in mobile service.
"This technology will be particularly helpful for busy parents who can now head straight into the restaurant and have their meal brought to their table at their convenience, without waiting in line," said Khalilah Cooper, Chick-fil-A director of service and hospitality, in a statement.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)