Austin, Texas-If Schlotzsky's experience with free Wi-Fi is any indication, this phenomenon will likely spread. Monica Landers, Schlotzsky's director of communications, said Wi-Fi has been installed in 40 of its 600 stores scattered across 38 states. "WiFi is a real draw," she said. "It creates a friendly buzz in the restaurant. Now we always have people there, and that's good. Nobody wants to walk into an empty restaurant."
The Wi-Fi program-along with Schlotzsky's free use of in-restaurant PCs-is now mandatory for new franchisees. And many existing Schlotzsky's proprietors are installing Wi-Fi service in their sandwich shops. Landers said the chain was initially worried that people would "hang around" too long, but that really hasn't been the case. The lunchtime crowd moves on quickly to go back to work, and other Wi-Fi users just seem not to linger. She said a survey of Schlotzsky's patrons indicated that six percent visited primarily for the Wi-Fi access. -TechWeb News