NoWait Aims to Replace Restaurant Hockey Pucks

Here’s another use for that rectangle packed with sensors you carry in your pocket or purse, restaurant pager.

You know those vibrating hockey-pucks you get at chain restaurants to tell you when they’re ready to seat you? Well, now a startup called NoWait is replacing them with an iOS app that the restaurant can use to text or call you when it’s your turn to eat.

Of course, you’ll give up your cell phone number and name to the app, which could provide a marketing list for the restaurant. Seems like they’d need some sort of agreement to terms there.

The benefits are several. For the restaurant, no more hockey pucks and fewer hovering guests, plus the marketing opportunities. For the patrons, the ability to roam further away from the restaurant and look at progress in the queue. And no more hockey pucks.

Restaurants are ripe for disruption. Couple a system like NoWait with Square, and you’re already saving a ton of money and looking cool in the process. Years ago, I wondered how long it would be until someone wrote an iOS app to replace the touchscreen POS systems used in many restaurants.

Just like credit card POS systems, these inventory and ordering systems cost a pretty penny, adding to the sunk costs of running a restaurant (or bar), which is already a dangerous gamble.

So, would you give your phone number to a restaurant in exchange for special offers and deals? Or do you love those hockey pucks? How would you disrupt the restaurant business?

Find the comments.




  1. Naples Ristorante in Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California has been sending text messages to waiting customers for at least several months now. However, they apparently don’t have the fancier features such as the ability to see how many people are in line ahead of you. I don’t know who provides their service, but I recall that the text messages came from an out-of-area area code, so it may have been a centralized system.
    I never thought of the privacy implications when I provided them with my phone number. Luckily I haven’t received any calls from them.

  2. Makes a lot of sense. This may eventually lead to an installable app for large chains, e.g. downloaded via QR code. Install the app, get deals on your phone, locate nearby restaurants, get into queue, etc. They could easily market offers in a more focused way than the traditional email newsletter spam.

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