Several wallet apps already let restaurant patrons order ahead for takeout and/or pay without waiting for a waiter. A Ukrainian company called Settle takes this concept a step further by also allowing customers to skip the wait for a table.
Settle did not see a need for another app expediting takeout orders, so it created one to expedite the experience of dining in, said Stas Matviyenko, CEO and co-founder of the company, which got its start last year in Kiev.
The upside for restaurants is higher turnover at tables, Matviyenko said, as well as opportunities for increased sales. The app notifies restaurants of customers past orders and preferences, allowing waiters and maître ds to offer desserts and other extras on the spot.
"They know that you like it, and you know that you like it, and there is a high [probability] you will buy it," Matviyenko said.
Companies like Square and Starbucks have systems that let people order ahead at restaurants, primarily for takeout. Other companies, including Tanjarine, Tabbedout, MyCheck, Snapfinger and Viableware typically focus on the ordering and payment process after the patron sits down. Settle is working to carve its niche somewhere between those two use cases.
Settle builds on an earlier venture by Matviyenko and his colleagues. That venture, Advice Wallet, is a mobile loyalty program for restaurants that has users in Israel, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and other countries. A survey of the programs users led to the creation of Settle, Matviyenko said.
Settle introduced its app in late 2014 in Kiev after signing up 20 restaurants. The company aims to launch the app in March in San Francisco at up to 20 restaurants serving lunch and breakfast, according to Matviyenko. Settle provides free tablets to the restaurants and trains staff on their use, Matviyenko added.
The company plans to talk to restaurants in New York City this fall and then launch the app there by the end of 2015, Matviyenko said. Additional restaurants throughout the U.S. will be able to join by enrolling online. Potential partnerships with companies such as Yelp and Foursquare may offer other distribution avenues, he said.
Consumers already have a choice of apps for placing and paying for take-out orders, and restaurants can continue using those alongside Settle, Matviyenko said. Settles app targets people who want to eat in but dont want to wait for a table to open up and then for the food to arrive. The app enables customers to indicate what time they plan to arrive and what they want to eat, all ahead of time.
When you come to the restaurant, you have your table already started with what you order and its already paid, so you just eat and go, he said.
Restaurants pay an 8% commission for orders coming through Settle, which allows them to accept a reservation or, via an in-app messaging function, suggest another time, Matviyenko said. Restaurants can also let customers know that a particular dish is not available. Customers can also notify the restaurant if they are running late. Payments are processed by Stripe.