New, free app allows checking restaurant wait times in advance

Sidney Blanford

You can now “know before you go,” instead of driving to your favorite local restaurant only to be greeted by a 30-minute wait.

Thanks to the new free app WhyWait, available for iPhone and Android Smartphone users, you can now see wait times for your favorite restaurants in Bowling Green before you arrive in the parking lot.

Originator of the idea, CEO and president of WhyWait Eric Littleton, said the original thought behind the app was to inform customers of wait times before they got to the restaurant.

“The thing about the wait time is it’s controlled by the restaurant,” Littleton said. “It’s not us doing anything — it’s all the restaurant.”

COO/CFO of the company, Jon Matar said one unique feature of the WhyWait app is you get completely accurate information provided directly from the restaurant itself.

“Everything you see on the WhyWait app about a restaurant has been uploaded by the restaurant itself,” Matar said. “The deals, events, happy hour — that is all posted by the restaurants.”

Recently released for public use, the company is currently working with 30 Bowling Green restaurants.

Bowling Green native and WKU alumnus Jay Brown, WhyWait Operations Manager, said the process for restaurants is fairly simple.

“It’s basically like a Facebook for restaurants,” Brown said.

Restaurants create an account/profile through, and from there they are given an Android tablet where they can instantly update wait times, which are sent directly to users’ phones, Brown said.

Initially designed to put customers at ease, Littleton said they worked to find incentives for restaurants to want to give out their wait times via the app.

“The big thing that changed everything was when we gave restaurants that control over their profile,” Matar said.

Although only 30 restaurants are currently working with WhyWait and have premium profiles, the app serves almost like the Yellow Pages, supplying names and contacts for all Bowling Green eateries, Brown said.

A feature Brown said he finds unique is the ability to mark premium profile restaurants as favorites. By marking favorites, users are put onto a list to receive push notifications of deals and events.

Debuting in Bowling Green, Littleton, Brown and Matar all agreed that the goal is to get feedback, enhance the app and then move onto to all major cities.

“Basically, we’re trying to conquer the world,” Brown said. “No, basically, we’re starting in Bowling Green and really trying to get feedback from users and restaurant owners.”

The WhyWait team contacted several restaurants in the Louisville and Lexington areas. Brown said they hope to be covering those cities within the next two weeks. As the app covers more ground, it will centralize to exact locations, so users aren’t left sifting through hundreds of restaurants.

“It’s not an app that you can take national right away,” Matar said. “We’re going to continue to develop it, get feedback and enhance it.”

The app was released in beta form, which Brown explained to be similar to a test run.

“We put this out to get feedback from customers and the restaurants to make sure we’re going in the right direction,” Littleton said.