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NoWait Goes National

on Wed, 01/08/2014 - 10:49

The vast majority of the technological breakthroughs of the Twenty First Century have been utilized by entrepreneurs across the country to make our life easier. Facebook enables us to keep in contact with friends and relatives no matter where they might be, for instance, while smart phones give us access to the World Wide Web and an assortment of specially designed apps to go along with the ability to make phone calls. One area of particular focus is enhancing one’s dining experience, whether it’s locating the best restaurant in a specific area or making reservations online or via one’s phone. There are a number of companies entering this competitive field, including the Pittsburgh-based NoWait, which has not only found success within the Steel City but is now poised to make a national splash as well.

NoWait was founded in 2010 by Carnegie Mellon University graduate Robb Myers, and was initially part of the AlphaLab startup accelerator project on the South Side. During that time, the company developed a mobile platform that made it easier for anyone to make reservations at such popular restaurants as Texas Roadhouse, Mad Mex and Red Robin. More significantly, the NoWait platform enabled the restaurants themselves to better manage their seating capacities and availabilities, while providing a wealth of information about their customer-base in the process. The NoWait service was later launched as a smart phone app in September 2013. At that time, it was only servicing five local Pittsburgh restaurants but by the end of the year, that number had grown to fifty.

TechCrunch has gone on record as stating that while the restaurant reservation business is a crowded and competitive field, the NoWait app still offers an advantage over its rivals nonetheless. Part of the Now Wait service, for instance, includes a digital “floor map” of a restaurant, making seating arrangements easier than relying on mere physical observation, as well as information that allows chains to make comparisons between individual restaurants. “NoWait’s value proposition goes beyond just replacing the ‘hockey puck’ buzzer system restaurants favor today,” the online magazine observed. “Instead, it’s about not only bringing seating management to mobile, but also providing business owners with more analytics and data about how the restaurant is running, even when they’re not able to be physically present in each location.”

The observation obviously has merit. “At first we were a bit nervous to use NoWait, thinking that we would be losing control over our wait lists but we found that the app was far better than we are at quickly and efficiently seating customers,” Burgatory manager Jimmie Kuhl told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the burger joint is apparently not alone in that assessment. “We were seating 700,000 users per month in January 2013,” added NoWait CEO Ware Sykes. “In January 2014 we expect to seat close to three million per month.”

NoWait has already made it easier for thousands of dining connoisseurs in the Pittsburgh region to make reservations at their favorite restaurants while likewise enabling those restaurants to better serve their customers. With 2014 upon us, the Oakland-based company is ready to go national, and will no doubt find equal success from the East Coast all the way to the West.

Anthony Letizia (January 8, 2014)

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