Here’s a startup idea that’s close to my heart. If at any point in your adult life you’ve ever entered a bar, pub, night club, lounge, or other fine watering hole, you’ve probably dealt with the problem of waiting in line to order a drink.
It’s a huge pain in the ass for all involved: You’ve got the gal who’s just standing there and can’t figure out what it is she wants to drink, the bro ordering 12 shots of Fernet for all his friends, the poor guy who just wants to close out his tab, and the other guy who forgot his credit card and doesn’t have any cash, all those people holding up the line. And then there’s the bartender who’s running between them, trying to keep everything straight. Meanwhile, your date’s sitting alone by herself getting hit on while you spend 20 minutes trying to get her a raspberry martini.*
Or you could just use Coaster and save yourself the trouble of waiting in line. Instead, you just place an order from your phone, sit back, and wait for your drinks to be made. When they’re ready, you get a push notification telling you to pick them up, as well as a unique identifying code to make sure that you’re the person who gets those drinks. And the best part? There’s no worrying about running a tab or closing down at the end of the night — all payments, tips included, are done on their phone.
Sounds great for patrons, but what do bars get out of it? Well, a few things: Coaster streamlines the order and drink-making process, since bartenders can make drinks that have already been ordered while patrons in line figure out what they want. It means better tips, since users can choose to pay from right within the app. It also means no dead or declined credit cards holding up things, and no cards left at the bar at the end of the night.
Co-founder Inderpal Singh tells me that the idea for Coaster came from DJing at various bars and clubs over the last 15 years. After seeing the pain point that comes with ordering drinks first hand, he set out to do something about it and built an app. Now he and co-founder Kevin Callaghan are pitching it to bars and clubs and trying to get them signed up.
So far, they have about 15 different bars on board in San Francisco, including places like Public Works, Wish, Jones, Harlot, Eve Lounge, Temple, and 111 Minna. But they’re always looking to add more. Check out the app, drink up, and let us know what you think.**
* I have never actually dated someone vapid enough to order a raspberry martini. Although my girlfriend once did order something called a Junior Mint. It tastes just like it sounds.
** That’s right, comment drunk. Please.