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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Local restaurants using technology to improve wait times

Hungry customers crowded the area outside The Flying Biscuit Cafe’s doors Sunday morning. A wait as long as two hours stood between increasingly impatient patrons and their breakfast.

To cut down on wait times and ease frustration, The Flying Biscuit, located at 4150 NW 16th Blvd., started using QLess.

QLess is a wait management system that allows customers to use their mobile device to put their names on a virtual waiting list, eliminating the need to wait at the actual restaurant.

When customers text “Flying Biscuit” to 310-494-2718, the system responds with automated real-time texts to secure their spot in line. It also provides an estimated wait time.

The system then allows customers to text certain commands: Texting “S” prompts the system to send a status update, “L” lets you leave the waiting list and “H” means help.

Ernest Milian, director of operations for The Flying Biscuit’s Gainesville location, said in a statement that the restaurant typically draws large crowds, especially during football season, and the new system would help increase customer satisfaction.

The wait management system benefits both employees and customers, said T. Rodriguez, a manager at The Flying Biscuit.

“It puts the customer more in control,” she said. “It cuts down on the number of phone calls we get.”

Rodriguez said the few patrons who have used the new system have expressed their approval.

UF accounting freshman Nicole del Campo waited to be seated at The Flying Biscuit on Sunday morning. The 18-year-old had not heard about the new system, but she said she would use it in the future.

“I definitely would because we’ve been here for an hour almost already, and if we would’ve used that, we wouldn’t have had to wait here as long,” del Campo said.

The Flying Biscuit isn’t the only local business that uses technology for a smoother operation.

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Humble Pie, a mobile pizzeria, uses the mobile app NoWait to text customers when their pizza is ready, owner Brett Ader said.

“That way, when we are at events, folks don’t have to wait around with their arms crossed,” he said. “At the Farmers market, which is always busy, they can order their pizza and walk around and go grocery shopping until it’s ready.”

Ader said he has recommended this new way of customer service to other food truck vendors. Customer feedback has been positive.

“People are surprised by it,” he said. “It’s a next-level thing. It’s not something you see all the time.”

UF microbiology senior Katya Zelaya, 22, said she likes the idea of having the freedom to wait wherever she wants to.

“Everyone always has their phone on them, so I feel like it makes sense to utilize that. Buzzers still kind of restrict you,” she said. “Now, I could just stay home until my table was ready.”

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 10/27/2014]

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