Innovation That Matters

Ordering from your phone could streamline the dining process, and keep you safe | Photo source TableTab

Startup's contactless dining app thrives during pandemic

Food & Drink

Customers can open the contactless dining menu option through a QR code and can then order and pay instantly, reducing the back and forth between a waiter and the table

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Spotted: Tufts University graduates Greg Kulchyckyj and Shehryar Malik, founded the TableTab app in August 2019, as an innovative way to streamline the restaurant dining experience. The app originally offered features such as an interactive menu, from which customers can order, as well as pay, with the aim of reducing waiting time for customers, making things less complicated for servers and increasing turnover for owners.

However, before the pandemic, says Malik, the app had a hard time proving its potential to restaurants.  In a pitch to a Harvard Square business, the general manager “essentially laughed at us and told us to get the hell out,” when he “got the idea that people were going to order and pay through their phones”, says Kulchyckyj. “But at the same time, we looked around [and] people were either taking pictures of their food, they were texting, they had their phone out scrolling or it was on the table.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, however, restaurants across the world were forced to close. Months later, as they cautiously reopened with strict social distancing measures,  managers and owners had to think innovatively or risk being left behind. During this time, Kulchyckyj and Malik decided to buy the domain, and to rebrand TableTab as an immediate solution for restauranteurs trying to survive the pandemic. They soon realised that the success of the app would no longer lie in efficiency, but in survival: “It wasn’t about your incremental sale. It was about a fundamental sale,” says Kulchyckyj.

The solution TableTab offered to restaurant owners was both short and long-term, based on a safe dining and a high-margin experience. This has proved popular, with owners and managers from across the US reaching out to TableTab after realising that safety is likely to remain paramount in the service industry for the foreseeable future.  

The app incorporates innovative tech too, with the pair recognising a disconnect between a good dining experience and conventional workflow practises. Customers can open the contactless dining menu option through a QR code and can then order and pay instantly, reducing the back and forth between a waiter and the table. TableTab is responsible for putting each restaurant’s menu into the app too, which can be modified to include specials or offers. 

The company’s revenue is based on a $1 charge per transaction, and they are currently supplying 10 dining establishments with their technology in the Washington, D.C., New York and the Boston areas.

Written By: Holly Hamilton

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