Yelp will soon let you skip the line at restaurants thanks to Nowait partnership

Yelp and Nowait announced a partnership that will enable Yelp users to check nearby restaurants’ wait times and “get in line” remotely from the Yelp app. Yelp will be making an $8 million strategic investment as part of the partnership, which was announced as part as Yelp’s 2Q earnings release yesterday.

Based in Pittsburgh, PA, Nowait is a mobile platform that has a network of more than 4,000 casual-dining restaurants across the country, including national chains such as Chili’s and First Watch. By using the Nowait guest app, users can see how long they would have to wait at a restaurant that does not accept reservations, as well as put their names on the waitlist without being physically present at a restaurant.

When their table is ready, users get a text message. Customers can also text back to say they’re running late, and restaurants can decide whether or not to hold the table for them.

Nowait charges restaurants a monthly fee. The company, which received its first round of funding in August 2012, has now raised a total of $23.5 million.

Nowait’s services will be integrated into the Yelp app “in the coming months,” said Ware Sykes, Nowait CEO, in an interview with TechCrunch. “We don’t have a specific deadline.”

“This partnership has multiple benefits,” said Sykes. “It helps us by enabling us to drive more traffic to our restaurants and it allows us to bring the Nowait experience to as many consumers as possible.”

Asked how the company is going to use the $8 million investment from Yelp, Sykes said: “Our first priority is opening up the Yelp network to the Nowait restaurants. We are going to expand our restaurant and customer base.”

Restaurants are 18 percent of reviewed businesses by category on Yelp, the company said. According to Yelp’s media relations, many people begin using Yelp to find restaurants, then discover other types of businesses, like plumbers and dog groomers.

Chad Richard, senior vice president for business development, said in an interview with TechCrunch that Yelp discovered the existence of Nowait thanks to references from friends and colleagues this spring.

“Nowait is a very complementary service to our existing offering for consumers and restaurants,” said Richard. “They have fundamentally created technology that replaces pen and paper systems for restaurants that don’t take reservations.”