Your Friday Night Just Got Better

We’ve all been to a restaurant when it’s busy: The waits are long, and if you live in a city like Chicago, the waits are even longer.

Although Chicago doesn’t have a shortage of fantastic restaurants, everyone seems to know which ones are the best. For example, if someone wants deep dish, they’ll probably go to Lou Malnati’s. If they want a good burger, they’ll go to Kuma’s Corner.

(I may be a little biased because I work at Kuma’s Too, but that’s beside the point.)

This is the famous Kuma burger, and you probably got hungrier just looking at it.

Whether you’re in the industry or not, we all know what it’s like to be hangry. We trade an hour wait for the certainty of a delicious meal. Yet, knowing this, we’re always filled with an irrational mix of anxiety and rage until the host says that message from above — “Your table is ready!”

As a hostess myself, I’ve seen customers’ faces light up all too many times after giving them the good news. I’ve also experienced the looks of panic and subtle death stares when I tell people they have to wait 45 minutes to an hour to be seated. The servers constantly bringing out burgers, mac and cheese plates and wings that saturate the room with a delicious aroma of homemade buffalo sauce doesn’t help, either.

Lucky for me, working at Kuma’s has its perks: Between the friendly staff, delicious food, and awesome beer selection, I definitely haven’t had much to complain about. Plus, they have an awesome digital waitlist app called NextME that I use when the restaurant gets packed. It not only makes my life easier, but helps increase table turns and decrease hangry customers.

Since Kuma’s doesn’t take reservations, NextME does a great job at managing our walk-ins. All I have to do is enter the patron’s name and number into the digital wait list, and the app will send diners an automated text saying which spot in line they’re in using a web link. When it’s someone’s turn to be seated, I press a button that sends them another text telling them their table is ready. I don’t even have to tell my customers to download anything!


How to Manage Waitlists at No-Reservation Restaurants

“Are there services where you can pay someone to wait in line for you? Any creative workarounds? There’s gotta be some random startup that’s solved this problem, no?”

“I’ve also noticed that many of the brunch spots in yelp that are tagged as “takes reservations” don’t actually take reservations for brunch … super annoying.”

NextME has! NextME is a digital waitlist app that allows you to hold your place in line with just your cellphone number. The app sends you a text message confirming your placement on the list and provides a link to a countdown clock for you and your party. The best part is you don’t have to download anything on your end, you just have to visit a restaurant that’s using it. As you can imagine, having a countdown clock means that instead of standing on your feet in line, you’ll be making the most of that extra time. When the clock gets low, NextME will send out another text, which you will reply to keep or cancel your reservation. From there, you’ll be notified when the restaurant is ready to seat you.

PS** If your favorite restaurants aren’t using NextME we’ve put together a nice referral program. Make sure to request NextME at your favorite restaurants and we’ll compensate you once they sign up.

Take a look at our website when you have some time: