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Check Restaurant Wait Times With This App and Join the Queue from Home

Fine dining is easy to plan out.  Most places have a reservation system and you can plan your schedule around your dinner plans.

Casual dining?  Not so much.

My favorite casual dining place around here is usually empty or packed.  There doesn’t seem to be an in between.

They allow dogs–which is great–but we also don’t know what situation we’re walking into with her.  A half-hour wait with a dog in a crowded waiting area is not-so-good.

But the food is!
But the food is!

There’s an app out there that has made my life so much easier–Nowait.

Nowait allows you to put your name on the wait list of a restaurant ahead of time.  In addition, it lets you know what the wait is going to be, and whether restaurants are seating people as they come in.

Restaurant wait

If you realize there’s a wait, you can put your name on the list as you head out.

Reservation list

Now for the good with this app.

The Good

It accurately lets me know how crowded a place is.  

When I’m going with my puppy, it’s not fun for the puppy (and the other guests) if it is PACKED.  So if I see a 30 minute wait, I know to stay home.

The queue works very well.

We get on the restaurants list just fine.  I haven’t had a problem with the restaurant not knowing we are coming.  Also, we are able to put special requests in.  So I can say things like, have pet–need to be outside.  Or tell them about a birthday in my group.

I can go other places.

Because they text, I can wander around in stores while waiting for my reservation to pop up, versus feeling like I have to stay in the waiting ahrea.

But there are a few minor downsides.

The Bad

The wait time is not party-sized based

What I mean by this is that your wait time is based on how many parties are in front of you–not based on the table availability and your party size.  This has worked out in my favor, because once a line hits around 8 or 9, my party of two gets called–but I could imagine it being stressful for someone who thinks they have a half-hour to kill and then gets texted in five minutes.

Edit:  I found out the wait time is historical for how many people are in your party, but it doesn’t take current table size availability/the party sizes ahead of you into consideration.

You go back in the queue if you don’t arrive in five minutes.  

This hasn’t been a problem for me, but I’ve seen people upset about it.  You don’t go all the way to the back, but you probably have a ~5 minute wait after you arrive.  It’s also awkward when you are the person being seated when there’s someone very angry they aren’t being seated right away after arriving ~15 minutes after the time they were texted.*

*THIS IS RESTAURANT SPECIFIC, the app has no rules for how to handle this.

The Bottom Line

I think this app is great.  Whether I’m feeling crowds or not feeling crowds, I can get a good sense of whether or not I actually want to go out that night.

I’m also a five minute Uber from most of the bars in my area.  So if I decide to go out, I can throw my name on the list at the same time as calling my Uber, and generally be set by the time I get there.

All in all, I recommend this app.

Nowait is available nationwide and is a free download.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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