Cut to the Front of the Line at a Restaurant by Giving to Charity

By Mike Pomranz |

Courtesy of SmartLine

No one likes a long wait for a table. Listening to an endless cavalcade of names being called before yours and trying to figure out how that couple who came in 20 minutes after you did got seated first can be infuriating. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a 100 percent effective way to jump to the head of the line that would make you feel good about yourself at the same time?

Meet CharityWait, a feature available as part of Smartline, a restaurant-management app, that allows restaurant patrons to get seated instantly by making a donation to charity. According to the Guardian, since launching in the U.S. in April, only ten restaurants have signed on to use the program, though Smartline hopes to continue to expand. “We have raised a few thousand dollars through our small network of restaurants — but we would love to increase our reach,” said Smartline’s Daniel Reitman.

The amount of the required donation fluctuates depending on variables like how long the wait is, how many are in your party and how expensive the restaurant is — but in general, the cost is somewhere between $10 and $35, with the restaurants choosing their own charities. Smartline does take a cut, with 60 percent of your money going to the good cause and the other 40 percent going to the app-maker. That is, however, 60 percent more money going to a charity than if you simply pay for your table through one of the other reservation-purchasing apps. Smartline also insists that CharityWait doesn’t really hurt other guests: Restaurants who use the service keep a set number of tables reserved specifically for people who donate.

It’s an interesting concept that I guess feels a little less seedy than simply paying the restaurant for preferential treatment. Now we’ll just have to wait and see how much good it can really do. 

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