-- There can be nothing worse than when you’re hungry and there’s a wait for a table at the restaurant you want to go to.
Enter CharityWait, a new service designed to not only get you seated right away, but also feel good while doing it. The concept is simple: pay a fee, which will get donated to charity, and skip the line.
“I hate the concept of having to go and wait in line at a restaurant, so being able to find a way to skip that was something really appealing to us,” SmartLine CEO and cofounder Daniel Reitman told ABC News. “We came up with this idea that rather than just paying the host or a service fee, why not skip and pay some money and have the money go to something good.”
CharityWait functions as a part of SmartLine, which is a computer program for restaurants to manage waits, checks and guest information. After a guest checks in, the program texts them with their wait time and offers the option to “donate and skip the wait.”
So far the feedback has been only positive since the program launched in April.
“The people love it. We haven’t had any negative feedback at all from the consumers,” Reitman said. “Being able to give back to their local community or major charity and have the ability that if they don’t want to wait, they don’t have to wait. They can do something good and save some time.”
For those worried about stealing someone else’s spot, CharityWait accounts for that: the restaurants holds a table as a placeholder at the front of the line for the service. Only a certain number of spots are held a night, and a certain number of people not using the service need to be seated for another spot to open up so that these regular patrons aren't waiting longer than they would have otherwise.
Restaurants, which each pick the 501(c)(3) charity of their choice, are also on board since it allows them to use the SmartLine program for free, as opposed to up to $159 a month –- and, on average, guests who use the CharityWait program are spending 29 percent more per check, according to Reitman.
Ten restaurants are using CharityWait so far, mostly in the New York area, but already a few thousand dollars have been generated for charity from the around $10 to $50 fee, of which 60 percent goes to the charity, and 40 percent goes back to SmartLine. The donation amount is based on an algorithm that adjusts for party size, length of the line and average entrée cost.
“We could end up donating millions once more restaurants sign on,” Reitman said. “We’re really looking to push this over the next few months and get as many restaurants on board.”