TableNabbr works to remove the hassle from last-minute dining out
TableNabbr enables potential diners to inform restaurants of the size of their party and remotely confirm reservations with restaurants that have open tables. Screenshot courtesy of Erin Ginkens.
Thanks to TableNabbr, Erin Ginkens now travels from Des Moines restaurant to Des Moines restaurant to Des Moines restaurant for different — and far less frustrating — reasons than she did once upon a time.
Ginkens is the president of Entrepreneurial Technologies, the Des Moines-based company that today launched TableNabbr, an app that helps potential diners find restaurant openings in real time. When I reached Ginkens by phone yesterday, she had been making the rounds at the area restaurants at which TableNabbr is rolling out, ensuring that the merchants were go for launch.
As she did so, Ginkens recalled a Friday night that she and her husband charted a similar course, in search of dinner, only to come home empty-stomached after consuming an hour of would-be dine time stopping at restaurants that didn't have open tables.
"We spend an hour driving around to different restaurants," Ginkens (left, photo from entretechno.com) said, "and eventually go home and order pizza.
"That only happened once … but there have been numerous occasions of getting frustrated with long waits."
Experiences like that drove the creation of TableNabbr, which looks to capitalize on what Ginkens calls "dining urgency." Using TableNabbr, which is available for free download in the app store, diners designate when, with how many people and in what area they would like to eat. Those specifications are sent to restaurants that meet the diners' criteria, and restaurants then have the option of ignoring the request (if they're busy), accepting the request (if they need business) or accepting the request with discounts or add-ons (if they really need business). Within 15 minutes of submitting their information, diners must choose a restaurant, which creates a reservation.
Ginkens said the app draws comparisons to Open Table but that TableNabbr "actually works in a completely different way" taking a twofold focus. "The two things we focused on (were) how to make it real-time, on-demand and how to make it really easy for the restaurants," Ginkens said. "And we knew if we were able to do those things we’d get a lot of adoption from restaurants, which would make the experience better for users."
TableNabbr, Ginkens said, also serves a similar function to Groupon and other daily deals services in that it aims to get customers in the door. But at a cost of only $1 to the restaurant for every reservation it helps generate, TableNabbr is less expensive for restaurants.
"It's a lot less negative for the merchant," Ginkens said. "It’s costing them way less, and it’s also just targeting that specific audience that’s saying, 'Yes, I want to eat right now.' So it’s not spamming people."
TableNabbr currently has six Des Moines-area restaurants in its party — Dos Rios Cantina and Tequila Lounge, Big City Burgers, Mandarin Grill and Sushi Bar, Baru 66, Splash Seafood Bar and Grill and Cosi Cucina Italian Grill — with a seventh on the way soon. Ginkens said once the Entrepreneurial Technologies team gets sufficient feedback on its iPhone offering, it will begin developing an Android app.
"I think we’ve put together a great group of restaurants to try it out," she said, "so we’re looking for them to provide us a lot of feedback as far as what's working well and what's not working all that well so that we can keep iterating."
For Ginkens' presentation of TableNabr at last week's Dwolla Meetup, see the video below