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It’s always a drag when you have to wait for a table at your favorite restaurant when you’re hungry. To solve this problem, startup Textaurant has introduced a web-based waiting list management application. The tool lets restaurants automatically alert patrons via a text message when their table is ready.
The service is simple. A restaurant pays an installation fee of about $1,000, though it can be free for long-term subscribers. The installation process downloads the web application to the restaurant’s hosting station computer. From there, the restaurant pays a monthly user subscription for the service.
Patrons visiting the restaurant opt into the service when they arrive by giving the host or hostess their cell phone numbers. Textaurant reports that nearly 75 percent of patrons say that waiting times are the most stressful part of dining out and can ultimately lead to a bad dining experience.
While its service can’t change how long you wait, it does allow you to leave the building and not have to worry that you’ll lose your table. A family waiting for dinner, for example, could venture to the toy stoy down the street. Dad’s cell phone will receive a text message when their table is ready.
Textaurant also lets restaurants offer deals and specials to patrons who have opted in to help drive additional revenue. For those worried about being constantly badgered by text messages from restaurants, don’t be. The company allows users to decide upfront whether they want to receive these additional offers or not. Textaurant also claims that it has ultimate control over these offers, keeping a close eye on everything sent to registered users.
The company isn’t the only one looking to help customers bypass frustrating lines. Startups like QLess, FreshTxt and MobileWait all use web-to-text applications to do something similar. Textaurant is the only one targeting restaurants — a move that may distinguish it enough to gain traction among its competitors.
The Waltham, Mass.-based company, founded in 2009, is currently only available in select Boston area restaurants, one of which is popular chain Chili’s. To date, the six-person company has secured friends and family funding.