Never wait for a restaurant check again—here's how

OpenTable's latest venture to help diners pay faster puts it in a growing group of start-ups and tech companies that aim to simplify the payment process.

On Monday, Priceline-owned OpenTable, which already has a stronghold on restaurant reservations, announced it is expanding a mobile payment service connected to its app to New York City, following an earlier test in San Francisco. It plans to reach 20 cities by year end.

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Mobile payment helps restaurants tighten security and increase convenience—making it an ideal application of the technology, said James Wester, research director of global payments at IDC.

"You're effectively standing in line even if you're sitting in a table," Wester said about waiting for the check.

As more restaurants implement the technology, the focus will be on making the process as simple for the consumer as possible while also preventing dining and dashing without paying.

Since OpenTable already has millions of app users, the addition of payments should be an "easy transition," Wester said.

Here are some of OpenTable's competitors:


This app, which debuted in October, splits the bill and leaves a tip. Last month, the start-up raised $5.5 million in Series A funding after a previous $1.5 million seed round. More than 80 restaurants in New York City and 25 restaurants in the Bay Area accept the app.

"We certainly have the capacity and capital to do other cities, but we're focusing on penetration right now," Cover co-founder Andrew Cove said.

"It's not a race to get to the most cities," he said. "It's a race to get customers to use it all the time."

On average, customers tip more than 21 percent of the after-tax total, Cove says.

They can set a default tip or choose to increase or decrease the tip, depending on the service.


More than 5,000 locations nationwide accept this app. Once users inform servers they plan to pay with TabbedOut, they have the option of paying their tab while still in the restaurant or having the app close it for them automatically once they leave.

In addition to saving time, customers also receive offers for using the app.

While marketing director Chris Scheppler said more apps are now available, he doesn't think it's too rife with competition.

"I don't think the space is becoming too crowded," he said. "There are a lot of competitors that have come and gone already."


This New York-based start-up's app launched in November and is accepted in more than 40 restaurants in the city. More are on the way.

Customers check into the restaurant anytime before or upon arrival. They then let their server know they're using Dash, and the server links the bill to the customer's account. This prevents dining and dashing without paying.

Customers can tip whatever they want and split the bill. The average tip is 24 percent, said Gennady Spirin, co-founder and COO of Dash.

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Several large chains, including DineEquity's Applebee's and Brinker International unit Chili's, have installed tablets recently in order to speed up service.

Applebee's plans to install 100,000 tablets that allow guests to order items, pay without a server and play games.

Chili's has installed more than 45,000 Ziosk tablets in its company-owned restaurants. On average, four in five diners use the devices, and more than 60 percent pay via the tablet, Chili's said.


Launched in mid-May, Square Order lets customers order and pay for restaurant items before picking up their food. They can use the app for dining in a restaurant or for takeout. The service, which is available in San Francisco and New York, has been especially popular at businesses that sell coffee, spokeswoman Semonti Stephens said.

PayPal Pay at Table

After checking in to a participating location, customers can either pay at the restaurant counter, the table or around the corner. Last year, about $20 billion was spent globally using eBay's PayPal on mobile devices.

—By CNBC's Katie Little