Going out to eat this weekend? Save yourself the runaround with TablesUp

Portland’s brunch villages aside, most folks hate having to wait for a table at restaurants. And most restaurants are less than tech savvy. But TablesUp is hoping to solve both those issues.

This time of year—as outdoor seating is relegated to tarps and sheds—seating in Portland’s thriving restaurant scene is at a premium. And that makes it much more difficult to simply walk up and grab a table. But with the help of that magic little computer you’re carrying in your pocket, that could be changing.

Founded by the cofounder of Pixelworks, TablesUp is a simple app designed to make the task of determining wait times at restaurants less onerous.

How’s it work?

Using any iPhone® or Android® smartphone, users open the app to view the city’s most popular restaurants via pins on a map. A simple tap on a pin opens the restaurant profile. With a push of a button, they may request a restaurant’s current wait time, triggering the TablesUp automated phone service to call the restaurant and prompt the answerer to punch in the wait time: 1 for less than 10 minutes (green), 2 for fewer than 30 minutes (yellow), or 3 for over 30 minutes (red). The diner receives a text message with the “fresh” wait time, and the restaurant’s pin on the TablesUp map turns from blue to green, yellow, or red accordingly. Likewise, anyone viewing the TablesUp app can see the updated wait times without making a phone call or requesting it again. Armed with this information, customers can now make more informed choices about where to go, depending on their schedule and the restaurant’s availability.

(And for the geeks in the crowd, it’s a pretty compelling use of the Twilio API.)

What’s more, it saves you from the classic “let’s drive over to [restaurant x]” only to cruise across town to find restaurant x closed. Because, guess what? When restaurants are closed? That translates into a very, very long wait time for a table. No, it’s true.

Even though it’s a new product, TablesUp has an impressive list of Portland restaurants, already.

For more information or to download the free app, visit TablesUp.

  1. Think of TablesUp as your personal concierge for spontaneous dining. Using our app you can quickly check the wait times of several nearby restaurants – we’ll call them for you and get back to you with the results.

    There is also a powerful network effect – every time TablesUp contacts a restaurant, that wait time is made available to EVERYONE using our app. This helps the restaurants spend less time answering the phone.

    For restaurants that are not so busy, TablesUp helps them attract spontaneous diners that might be tired of waiting at a busy restaurant nearby.

    TablesUp is all about using real-time information to connect restaurants and their customers. We use our smartphones to access real-time information all day long – sports, stocks, weather, traffic – why not restaurants?

  2. I’m all about innovative technology and am truly impressed with the creative ways many apps solve everyday problems or make life easier and more streamlined, but this one just doesn’t click for me. Does calling the restaurant actually take that much longer? Is it really so inconvenient that you need an app to call for you? Is the restaurant so inundated with phone calls about wait times that this app would significantly cut down on time spent answering calls? (Maybe?) It doesn’t solve any real problem, in my opinion, just introduces an unnecessary layer into the equation. After all, someone still has to answer the phone.

    Now, if the wait list and seating chart were an iPad app that the hostess (or diners) used, that automatically calculated wait times and provided access to this info to potential diners, NOW you’re solving a problem. And, there’s probably an app for that. If not, I totally already have a patent submitted for it so don’t even try. 😉

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