Amy Cao is a food editor at Tumblr and the head of community at Foodspotting, a San Francisco and New York City based startup that delivers a delicious app for food photographers and hungry voyeurs alike. So it’s safe to say that Amy Cao is well positioned at the crux of digital and delish.
It was Cao who first turned us on to WaitAway, an application platform that launched this summer to help restaurants manage their wait list and reservations more efficiently by using text message technology. She was waiting in line at The Meatball Shop when she simply gave the hostess her phone number that she then typed into the app. WaitAway then texted Cao a link to track the wait time for meatballs and mint ice cream. Cao was impressed.
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WaitAway is targeting restaurants that have long wait times and lots of traffic. The app allows walk-in guests to wait where they wish while the hosts can keep them updated via text messaging. The app also includes an entire reservations system that leverages the same text message technology for confirming guests of their reservation times.
Since launch, WaitAway has gained some good traction from a few places in NYC like Ma’s Mezcal on the Upper East Side and a couple other spots in Orange County and Los Angeles like Tuna Town in Huntington Beach. For restaurants, WaitAway offers a 2-week free trial of its app, which has gotten amazing customer response so far says Wes Adams, WaitAway’s President and Co-founder. After the 2-week trial, WaitAway charges $49 per month and also offers a flexible pricing plan based on text message usage.
Check out this screenshot of Cao’s Meatball Shop visit below:
WaitAway is in a competitive space when it comes to replacing the traditional table buzzer with your customer’s phone. Unlike competitor NoWait, which is an iOS app, WaitAway is optimized for any laptop, desktop, mobile or tablet as it’s web-based. Recent ERA graduate, BuzzTable is also a strong player in this game as its app establishes a direct line of communication between the restaurant and their customers with a built-in loyalty program for individual merchants, allowing them to directly connect with customers. Instead of waiting for a table idly, customers receive a text message when they’re table is ready and now the restaurant has that customer hooked. The BuzzTable app replaces the table buzzer, coupons, restaurant surveys and the punch card with one, easy to use mobile interface.
Unlike BuzzTable, which is currently raising $750,000 to expand, WaitAway is 100% bootstrapped and likes it that way. These days, this is particularly refreshing to hear from a New York City startup. In my opinion, whichever company can crack Egg’s wait time in Williamsburg, Brooklyn gets my vote for best salesmanship.