July 9, 2002, 12:00 AM

Web-enabled kiosks to let shoppers order and pay for pizza online

TastesofChicago.com kiosks will target tourists with touchscreen ordering of Chicago-style treats, including famed Lou Malnati`s pizzas.

Online ordering for shipment of deep-dish pizza and other signature Chicago-style culinary treats to anywhere in the U.S. will be offered on dedicated web-enabled kiosks set to go up at two locations in Chicago this week. Targeting the tourist market, the kiosks, an offshoot of the 4-year-old web site TastesofChicago.com will initially be installed at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center and Chicago Sports & Novelty, a store operated by McCormick Place in the city’s primary shopping area on Michigan Avenue.

The kiosks, owned and operated under the Tastes of Chicago name by Chicago pizza empire Malnati Organization Inc., may go up in other tourist-trafficked locations such as hotels and Chicago’s O’Hare airport in the near future, says Dave Milazzo, managing director of Tastes of Chicago. Malnati acquired the TastesofChicago.com web site and rights to the kiosk program developed by Milazzo for his former company, eTastes Inc., in June 2001.

Software developer Netkey designed the kiosks’ operational self-service software, while NCR provided the kiosk touchscreen unit, the same one used by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and grocer Jewel Food Stores for self-service checkout. The kiosks are transaction-enabled with a credit card swipe. “The idea is to bring the tastes of Chicago to people rather than waiting for them to get on a computer,” says Milazzo.

In addition to its pizzas, Malnati’s contributes food packing and shipping expertise. Its own web site and 800 number ship hundreds of orders packed in dry ice across the country each day–-thousands during the holiday season. In addition to using FedEx overnight service for remote delivery, the Tastes of Chicago kiosks will use FedEx standard ground service for next-day delivery across town.

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