The restaurant chain had been offering the free access on a trial basis in Austin, Texas, restaurants. It will expand that program to 38 restaurants because, "Free wireless is great for business," a Schlotzsky's spokeswoman said in a statement.
The restaurant chain said customer surveys found that the free access led to more business. Specifically, it said in a statement that 6% of those surveyed said that free Wi-Fi access was a key reason they chose to eat at Schlotzsky's. In addition, more than 40% said free access was a factor in their decision.
"We get incredible heartfelt 'thanks' from customers for making free Wi-Fi available, and they reward us with their business," the spokeswoman said. "It's also extended our business beyond the lunch hour so that the restaurant feels alive at all times."
The restaurant chain said it disagreed with models in which patrons must pay for access.
"While some other companies are trying to figure out how to charge for the service, we think our approach gets closer to the true potential of the wireless revolution," the spokeswoman said. "We continue to be excited by what we see in our business and are encouraging all of our franchisees to get on board."
The company noted that it is experimenting with free access to the surrounding neighborhood to a distance as far as a quarter mile from the restaurant.