By Mike Pomranz
Updated December 19, 2014
Credit: © Peter Cavanagh / Alamy

Technology infiltrated the process of waiting for a table long ago. Those crazy square pagers allow you to peruse Urban Outfitters while you wait two hours for a table at The Cheesecake Factory. But this is the smartphone generation: There’s gotta be an app for that.

NextME wants to be that next leap. Diners can install the app, get their name added to a digital wait list, then do whatever they want until their table is ready—the wait list goes where you go. The biggest breakthrough, however, is that instead of bugging a hostess, users can find their place in line and check a digitally calculated wait time at any point simply by looking at their phones.

According to Chicago’s DNAinfo, the app is already in about a dozen restaurants in that city, and the designers hope to roll out the service—which is free to diners, instead charging its fees to restaurants—nationwide soon. Not only is utilizing customers’ phones cheaper than buying a pager system, restaurants can expect other benefits as well. “A lot of diners, when they see a long line, they immediately turn around and leave,” John Yi, who created the app with his brother, was quoted as saying. “Now, we are retaining customers for the restaurants.”

As Eater points out, “NextME appears to be among the first of its kind. Most new restaurant-related apps are tackling the reservations side of the business.” If true, kudos to NextMe: The idea is almost painfully practical and useful. Though I will miss all my Urban Outfitters hangout time.