Giving new meaning to the phrase “dine and dash,” feel-good restaurant chain TGI Friday’s has released an application for iPhone and Android that lets diners pay their tab right from their mobile device.
The application, called “Friday’s,” lets customers start a tab, keep track of their bill, and checkout with a click of a button at roughly 350 of the establishment’s 600 U.S. locations.
The app, released this week on the top two mobile platforms, is meant to supplement TGI Friday’s refreshed brand strategy around creating a better dining experience and is said to be the first of its kind from a casual dining chain.
Here’s how it works: Customers who click to open a tab in the app are presented with a five-digit code to show to their server. The server matches the code on the restaurant’s point-of-sale system to tie the tabs together. The app user then orders with the server as usual, but can follow her tab on her phone and choose to pay at her leisure. Transactions are processed using credit card info saved inside the application.
TGI Friday’s mobile payment functionality is powered by Austin-based startup Tabbedout, a company with consumer-facing mobile applications of its own that allow users to locate participating restaurants and take care of their checks from their phones. The startup makes a solution that currently integrates with seven different types of POS systems, including MICROS used by Friday’s, for an encrypted exchange of credit card information.
“Between Tabbedout and MICROS, we were able to deliver some technology for TGI Friday’s that complements their brand strategy,” Tabbedout’s vice president of sales Kevin McKeand said in an interview with VentureBeat. “The mobile app and the mobile payment functionality is a core part of their new marketing strategy.”
TGI Friday’s, McKeand said, is intent on improving the customer’s dining experience “within the four walls.” The company, which owns many of its stores but also has franchise owners, is looking to grab guests with great service and believes that the mobile applications will free up servers and bartenders to communicate and engage with diners more.
Founded in 2009, Tabbedout has raised roughly $6.5 million in funding and has an especially strong presence in Portland, Seattle, Dallas, Houston, and Austin. Phoenix, Denver, and Washington D.C. are the startup’s next three target markets, McKeand said. With the addition of Friday’s, Tabbedout mobile payments are accepted at more than 800 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
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