9 Best Restaurant Pager Systems & Apps

Posted by

Staff Writer


January 4, 2024

People lining up at your door is a good problem, but only if you have an effective way to manage them.

Otherwise, things can easily get hectic, especially when you end up with a two-hour wait list, and customers who keep asking, “How much longer?”

Luckily, restaurant pagers and apps can help solve this problem. This blog post will walk you through the best options to:
✔️ Manage your waitlist better with a wireless paging system.
✔️ Improve customer satisfaction through excellent service with a paging app.
✔️ Implement a staff paging system so smooth your customers won’t even notice it.
✔️ And ultimately, turn tables faster and bring in more revenue.

What are restaurant pagers, and how do paging systems work?

A pager is a small device that will vibrate or light up when accessed by a master transmitter. It can be designed for:

  • The waitlist system or staff-to-customer communication: A restaurant call system allows the host to inform guests when their table is ready.
  • The serving system or staff-to-staff communication: Restaurant pagers for food runners allow the kitchen staff to announce the waitstaff when an order is ready.

Paging service providers sell guest pagers individually or as part of a paging system. The system includes multiple beepers and the master transmitter mentioned above that sends signals to each pager.

✴️ The main benefit of working with a restaurant pager system is that you no longer write customers on paper and call or shout their names. You just press a button.

❗ The main requirement for customers to get your notification is to stay in the buzzer’s system’s range.

How far do restaurant pagers work?

It depends on the strength of the system you buy. The signal can vary from 150 feet to 1 mile. Most restaurant pagers have a signal up to half a mile, covering only a medium-sized restaurant floor and a few shops on your street.

What should you consider about your paging system?

  • A paging system works best when you have the right amount of devices and the right transmitter range for your location.
  • Wireless paging systems with a stronger signal and wider range are more expensive.
  • Thick walls, metal structures, multiple floors, and electronic devices can weaken signal transmission.
  • Staff must clean up, sanitize, and charge the pagers before and after every guest.
  • You need to warn customers about your pager range, or else they might step out of it, not get buzzed, and return angry.
  • Guests might accidentally walk away with the beepers, drop them, or break them.
  • Guests might not hear the beeper if waiting in a loud environment, making you spend more time with empty tables.


1. Best solution: Waitlist pager app

Waitlist pager apps are applications you access from a phone or tablet to page customers with a text message when their table is ready.

How pager apps work:

You use the restaurant paging app to type in customer names, phone numbers, and other quick details. When you need to seat a customer, you tap a button, and the app automatically sends an SMS to their smartphone.

Here’s why waitlist pager apps are the best option for restaurants:

➕ Waitlist management is easier. The staff needs less technical support. You also provide an improved customer experience as guests don’t worry about losing their spot while waiting for the confirmation text message.

➖ Some customers might not want to share their phone numbers.

Here’s a step-by-step video on how software called TablesReady helps you manage your waitlist:


Unlike physical pager systems, there are plenty of free plans and free trials to get you started.

Top recommended pager app:

TablesReady is the simplest text paging service and waitlist app. It sends customers text message confirmations and is free for up to 150 monthly SMS texts while also offering paid plans for low prices. Watch this short video of how it works and use it today without any contract or credit card:


2. Physical restaurant pager system (also known as restaurant buzzers)

The physical pager with a rechargeable battery is a solution that most non-chain venues look into. However, a paging system for business may not provide the most efficient communication, even when its built-in antenna promises unlimited range. This happens because the central transmitter must reach multiple coaster pagers with certain limitations.

How restaurant buzzers work

When a table is ready, the host will use guest paging to notify the waiting customer. By pressing a button on the transmitter, the assigned pager will buzz or light up, letting the guest know it’s time to be seated. Customer pagers can also be used as staff pagers when the kitchen buzzes a food runner to let them know a dish is ready to be served.

➕ Notification system that removes the need for pen-and-paper waitlist management.

➖ Even long-range systems can lose signal, or customers can lose the restaurant pagers.


Depending on features and transmitter range systems, a small restaurant needs to dish out $200-$500 for a pager system. Larger restaurants seating 100+ PAX typically pay $1,000-$5,000 for good deals.

Your restaurant paging system cost can go up by $10 to $60 or more per each device you replace or add.

Top recommended paging systems:

  • Economic restaurant pagers: The NOLAS kit by Corum Security is an accessible restaurant paging system with 24 pagers at $200. Consider that you may need extra pagers and that some users occasionally complain about signal stability and range.
  • Mid-range restaurant paging systems: The Pager Genius System is a good option in terms of features and offers 20 pagers for $800. Some users reported variability in performance and occasional random shutdowns.
  • Top-of-the-range paging systems for business: The Complete Coaster Paging System with 30 pagers at $1650 is one of the top-rated long-range solutions that promises outstanding performance. It features a 2-mile range, anti-theft, auto-locate, and on-pager branding. Price and some mixed reviews left aside, bear in mind that it’s non-returnable.

3. Table management software

Table management software helps restaurants organize and keep track of their tables, showing statuses or how long guests have been seated. It may come as standalone software or an option in a waitlist app.

How table management apps work:

An app like TablesReady that aims for simplicity has a built-in serving tracking function. Tracking lets you manually assign each customer to a resource — table, waiter, lane, etc. — and see them color-coded in the app. Other software can lay out floorplans, which are typically more complex to implement and train the staff on.

➕ Helps you serve more people by using your space wisely.

➖ Can cause mix-ups or overbooking if not updated properly.


$50 - $200/month or higher.

Top recommended table management app:

TablesReady’s table serving tracking is part of a $49/month waitlist app. Use it to text customers when their tables are ready and mark their assigned table in the app with one button tap.

4. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools

A CRM tool is like a centralized database where you store data about every customer. It also keeps a waitlist and integrates special features that improve customer service. And it can even send customers personalized offers and rewards as part of a loyalty program.

How CRM tools work:

The tool stores data like eating preferences, special requests, names, or languages whenever a customer interacts with your restaurant. When they return, you can use this data to give your service a personal touch.

➕ Makes customers feel special and increase their loyalty.

➖ Time-consuming to keep up with data entry and valuable only if you have many regulars and a high-ticked meal price.


  • Around $200/month on average.
  • Additional charges or setup fees, SMS fees, etc., may apply.

Top recommended CRM tool:

OpenTable starts from $39/month for the basic CRM system. More advanced features are in the Core package (most popular) at $249/month and Pro package at $449/month. While price bumps include many features, some users complain about customer service.

5. Bespoke mobile app solutions

A bespoke mobile app is made for your restaurant by a software development company and can cater to your venue's specific needs. Customers use it to order food or join your waitlist, and it helps streamline customer service and promote your brand. McDonald’s app for Android and iStore is a great example here.

How bespoke apps work:

Customers download the app on their phones. They access it like any other mobile app when they want to book a table or order in advance.

➕ Can strengthen your brand and customer loyalty and is easy to use even for different locations.
➖ Expensive, and not all customers want to download another app.


  • Basic restaurant app development: $5,000-$10,000.
  • Restaurant apps with more functions, including food delivery: up to $20,000.

Top recommended software developers for restaurant mobile apps:

Zazz, AppInventive, and Enuke are three of the most popular restaurant app development companies you can ask for a quote from.

6. Virtual waiting rooms

A virtual waiting room is like an online queue for guests. They access it from their mobile phone to join your waitlist and get real-time updates on wait times, queue progress, and estimated service time. This solution is meant to offer a better customer experience and take off some of the pressure from your staff.

How virtual waiting rooms work:

Customers join a virtual queue and reserve their spot remotely. Then, they can track waiting progress in real-time and receive notifications when their table is ready.

➕ Keeps customers informed and engaged as they wait.

➖ Might require a screen in the restaurant or the customer to check their phone often.


  • $50-$200/month, depending on features.
  • Some services might charge per guest added to the waiting list.

Top virtual waiting room app:

  • NextMe is one of the most popular virtual waiting room options.  They’re serving various industries with client management solutions, but they focus heavily on restaurants and have plans under $80/month.
  • Alternatively, you can try TablesReady to let your customers join the waitlist from your restaurant’s public page or by scanning QR codes.

7. Self-check-in kiosks

Kiosks are large touch-screens in the restaurant that track how many people are in, what food orders are active, and which tables are free. Walk-in customers use them to join the waitlist by themselves and get wait time estimations, be automatically assigned a table, or simply just order food. Most kiosks also allow payment.

How kiosks work:

The kiosk sits at the entrance and has a touchscreen and display with check-in, reservations, and waitlist view options. Customers enter their details, and the kiosk confirms their check-in or reservation.

➕ Can save time for your staff and the customers.

➖ Might be intimidating for less tech-savvy customers.


  • $1,000-$4,000, depending on design and features.
  • Involves hardware costs and extra fees for software licensing, subscriptions, maintenance, and tech support.

Top self-check-in kiosk options:

  • Yelp Kiosk is one self-check-in option, though Yelp is known for its hefty price tags of up to $299/month.
  • If you don’t need a large screen, TablesReady allows self-check-in with an iPad as a public check-in kiosk or by using a QR code.

8. Contactless mobile ordering platforms

A contactless mobile ordering platform lets customers order and pay for their food without touching a menu or cash. Unlike bespoke mobile apps, these platforms integrate with multiple restaurants and are not exclusive to a single brand. Using these websites really feels like reading the main menu but ordering straight from a shopping cart.

How mobile ordering platforms work:

Customers navigate the mobile ordering platform and pick from the listed restaurants the one they want to order from. Right from the app, they can look at the menu, order, and pay, sometimes even before they get their table.

➕ Safer and convenient for customers and staff members, shows the order status, reduces the wait time, and minimizes contact.
➖ Customers who prefer traditional methods might find it less personal and difficult.


  • $60-$300 or more for a monthly subscription.
  • Some platforms charge a percentage or a fixed fee per order, like 1%-5%.

Top mobile ordering platforms:

  • Yelp Guest Manager includes a contactless mobile ordering function for takeouts.
  • Toast Tab offers a Mobile Order & Pay service that can help restaurants just getting started with contactless mobile orders.

9. Restaurant reservation software

Restaurant reservation software is like a digital calendar that helps ensure the best customer experience. It lets customers book tables in advance so they know they have a seat waiting for them. And it helps restaurants keep track of these reservations and manage bookings efficiently.

How restaurant reservation software works:

Customers can book a table through the restaurant’s website, app, or a third-party platform. The system automatically confirms the reservation and may send reminders to the customers. The software helps the restaurant manage its table layout and availability, updating in real-time as reservations are made, and guests arrive.

➕ Can help spread out customer arrivals, so there's less rush at peak times.
➖ Might be less flexible for walk-in customers who haven't booked ahead.


  • $30 - $60 a basic monthly plan with limited reservation features.
  • Up to $500/month for the more advanced plans.

Top restaurant reservation software:

Why TablesReady is your best text paging system for restaurants

Restaurant server pagers and waitlist pager systems are difficult to maintain and can stress you more than they help.

Can you check three or more of these boxes?

⬜ You never want another customer on your waitlist to get missed.
⬜ You need an efficient waitlist system because of staff shortage.
⬜ Any new system you buy must be affordable or, even better, free.
⬜ You want your costs to scale up and down with seasonal demands.
⬜ You want your guests to be able to explore while they wait for their table.

If you checked more than three boxes, a no-fuss app like TablesReady will help you manage it all. As one of the easiest on the market, the app works on any mobile device, texting customers when their table is ready.

For a reliable serving system that’ll make your guests happily wait for a table, start your free trial and test it at your restaurant today.

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