Waiting for a restaurant table is getting easier.

That’s because a growing number of restaurants are using what’s known as “virtual-queue apps.” They’re designed to end waiting. Or, at least make us feel like we’re not waiting. 

Of course, you could make a reservation. But not all places take them, and those that do don’t always like that option. Because most restaurants average 10 no-shows a night. And each time they hold a table that could have gone to someone else, they lose money.

Some restaurants have tried fixing the problem by offering vibrating pagers. But those cost a lot of money, especially when people walk off with them after they get tired of waiting!

That’s where the new “virtual-queue” apps come in. They let restaurants input your name and cell phone number onto a device that’s running the app. Then, when a table’s ready, they automatically send you a text message. That not only gives you the freedom to walk around while you’re waiting. It also gives you the option of texting back, to say “I’m on my way” or “Sorry, I’ve changed my mind."

Some apps also let you check-in from your phone, to see how many other customers are ahead of you. 

Because research shows that we’re more likely to stay and wait if we know exactly where we stand in line. Because that makes us feel more in control! In fact, one restaurant chain we read about said their walk-away rate dropped 30% within a month of using a virtual queue app.

That’s why experts predict these new apps will eventually change the way we wait - not just in restaurants, but also in places like the hair salon, the DMV, and even the doctor’s office.