Jonathan Chu is the owner of the popular Santa Monica, California, gastropub The Independence and the Mexican-themed Lanea, which features a hand-selection of over 400 tequilas and mezcals. As if that weren’t enough, he also founded and serves as CEO of OhWaiter, a technology solution provider which in August launched a next-generation text messaging platform for restaurant ordering and payment processing. Successfully deployed in dozens of restaurants on the West Coast, the service has now expanded nationwide. Jonathan shared with us some of his experiences in the hospitality industry as well as his perspective as both a restaurant owner and a technology entrepreneur. Clearly, he enjoys both roles. “They say if you love what you do, you don’t have to work another day in your life,” he said.
Let’s start by talking about what is happening at OhWaiter in light of the pandemic. You recently launched a new text messaging-based ordering and payment solution. What are the benefits and how is the solution different from others that are available to restaurants?
OhWaiter provides the easiest and most innovative ordering system available to hospitality operators. The benefits include increased safety, convenience, efficiency and fun by allowing guests to text their requests to get what they want, when they want it. People are texting 50-100 times per day, so they are already comfortable using the OhWaiter system. There is no app to download or clunky pay as you go system. Just text and receive!
Can you provide some examples of how restaurants are utilizing your solution? Any success stories you can share?
Many restaurants in LA are using OhWaiter. Gladstones, Pitfire Pizza, Bossa Nova, Chicas Tacos, The Independence and Tiato (part of the An Family of Restaurants), to name a few. In the case of Lobster and Beer, a casual quick service restaurant in Culver City, many different people were filing into the stores single door to line up at the cash register to either: order for dine in, pick up their take-out order or pick up a 3rd party delivery order. This created a log jam and by offering the OhWaiter service platform, the owners were able to allow dine-in guests to sit directly, order via OhWaiter and avoid the line. So dine in guests are thrilled, take-out and delivery people have a shorter line and to our surprise, older people love it! They are thankful that they do not have to go inside and can maintain physical distance more easily.
I know the solution was initially available to restaurants on the West Coast and has now expanded nationwide. It works not only for restaurants but also for hotels, stadiums and other venues? What types of eating establishments are most likely to benefit from your solutions?
Anywhere service is provided. But especially with the importance of outdoor dining spaces. In the case of patios being extended around the corner, into parking lots and further away from server stations, OhWaiter improves service with a service option at every table, at all times and at minimal cost. Some operators with great service just like having an insurance plan for when they get overwhelmed.
In The case of Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, They have a handful of tables on their rooftop which is not a lot of tables to staff a server for. Plus it’s a long way in between. So OhWaiter allows guests to more easily communicate their requests and staff downstairs can get a jump on the order and expedite service so that their guests can order more and not have to wait – people hate to wait! Waiting is one of the top online complaints!
Restaurant Technology News, published by Starfleet Media, is the hospitality industry’s premier source of information and insights related to technology innovation at the world’s leading quick service, fast casual and full service restaurants.
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