7 Best Waitlist Apps For Busy Restaurants in 2024

Posted by

Staff Writer


December 14, 2023

We know you've got a plate fuller than a Sunday brunch buffet.

Your days are packed, the kitchen is steaming, and you’re getting on upwards of 45-minute wait times while guests constantly ask, "How long is the wait?”

In 2024, it's time to set aside the cluttered clipboards and faulty buzzers. We've cooked up a list of the 7 best waitlist apps designed to bring peace to your peak hours. 👇

Top waitlist apps in 2024:

  1. TablesReady
  2. Waitwhile
  3. Yelp Waitlist App
  4. Waitlist ME
  5. Carbonara
  6. Toast Tables
  7. OpenTable Waitlist

What’s a restaurant waitlist app, and why do you need one?

A restaurant waitlist app is a digital tool with a built-in template that lets you manage the flow of customers waiting for a table.

Restaurant owners and managers use this app to replace traditional pen & paper or pagers that are inefficient and error-prone — especially during busy hours.

A waitlist app is it’s easy to use on a computer, tablet, or even phone and it’s a great choice with some clear benefits:

  • Ease of implementation: An app is super easy to navigate, and you almost need no training to get started. You hit the plus button, put the information in, and then send a text message or call the guest when their table is ready.
  • Ease of use: The digital waitlist management function is very convenient because it gives you a simple place where you can text and chat with people when they’re waiting for a table.
  • Improved workflow: Digital apps make your workflow less hectic and more manageable because you no longer use paper or write down names. You can go from two hostesses to one since they no longer have to go looking for the waiting guests.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Customers love that you don't yell out their names, and they don’t have to stay close or handle those bulky pagers. Plus, they can also see real-time wait estimations of how much longer they need to wait.
  • Ability to plan better for busy times: Using the app for a while, you’ll see patterns that help you gear up for the busiest days to provide a great guest experience without overwhelming your staff.
  • Increased revenue: Getting more folks seated and served will boost your sales by increasing the number of people you can serve during opening hours.

The best 7 restaurant waitlist apps you should look into

To rank these best restaurant waitlist apps, we’ve considered ease of use, pricing, flexibility, and, of course, user reviews. In this evaluation, you’ll notice that most tools have similar features. The key differences are cost, customer service, and, most importantly, ease of use.

1. TablesReady

TablesReady is the best waitlist app to easily manage your waiting customers by sending them texts. Setting up on any mobile device takes minutes and requires no credit card or contract signing. Plus, anyone who knows how to use a phone will know how to add a customer's name and phone number in the app.

Key Features:

  • Quick to start, really easy to use.
  • Free to use for up to 150 messages/month (try the free plan).
  • Built-in SMS text messaging.
  • Self-service and automation to confirm and cancel customers.
  • Option to create a custom waitlist page for online signups.
  • Contactless sign-ups with QR codes.
  • Integrations with Google & Square.
  • Additional reservation features.


  • Sending messages in languages with non-standard characters other than English limits the number of characters.

Compatibility: Works on devices you already have, whether it's tablet, phone, or desktop.

Pricing & Plans:

  • Free: $0/month, 150 text messages a month.
  • Premium: $49/month, billed annually, 2,500 text messages monthly.
  • Custom: for plans with 40,000+ text messages a month.


2. Waitwhile

waitwhile restaurant waitlist app

Waitwhile is an all-in-one solution for handling the flow of potential customers in busy environments. It offers different features to reduce waiting time, simplify reservations, and communicate with customers. It offers multiple plans and a price calculator you can try out to see how much it would cost for your needs.

Key Features:

  • Supports personalized services by building customer profiles.
  • Integrates with other business tools.
  • Communication tools for updates and feedback requests.
  • Customizable branding and messages.
  • Automated messages and analytics.


  • Comes with a learning curve for the new users who want to try out all of its features.
  • Can be pricey for smaller restaurants since advanced features only come with higher pricing tiers.
  • Not specifically designed for restaurants.

Compatibility: desktop web browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge.

Pricing & Plans:

  • Free: $0/month, 1 location, 50 visits/month.
  • Starter: Starts at $29/month, up to 4 locations, 500 - 3,000 visits/month.
  • Business: Starts at $196/month, 4-10 locations, 4,000 - 10,000 visits/month.
  • Custom: For unlimited locations and visits.

3. Yelp Waitlist App

Yelp restaurant waitlist app

The Yelp Waitlist app is a popular restaurant waitlist application offered by Yelp through its Guest Manager service. It features live wait times, remote waitlist joining via smartphones, and text notifications. If you’re looking for a more complex reservation and waitlist management application with lots of functionalities, the technology behind it might be right for you.

Key Features:

  • Provides real-time updates and notifications.
  • Integration with Yelp's extensive platform and user base.
  • Remote waitlist joining via the Yelp app or website.
  • Live wait times and real-time updates for customers.
  • SMS notifications to confirm waitlist status and table readiness.


  • Quite expensive compared to other apps.
  • Not ideal if you’re only looking into simple waitlist management, as there are a lot of extra features.

Compatibility: Available on iOS/Android devices and online via Yelp.com.

Pricing & Plans: 

  • Basic: Starts at $99/month.
  • Plus: Starts at $299/month.
  • Custom: For restaurant groups that need a fully-integrated ecosystem.

4. Waitlist ME

Waitlist ME restaurant wait list app

Waitlist ME is an efficient waitlist software that lets you add customers to a waitlist using different devices. Guests are notified via text or phone calls when it’s their turn. And you get analytics and reports based on the waitlist data you run through it.

Key Features:

  • Pretty simple and intuitive interface.
  • Works on a variety of devices.
  • Waitlist view and reservations calendar.
  • Customizable notifications and public waitlist page.
  • Self-check-in kiosk mode and web widget.
  • Table/resource management and two-way texting (Pro plan).


  • Advanced features are locked in lower-tier plans.

Compatibility: iOS, Android, and internet browsers.

Pricing & Plans: 

  • Premium: $23.99/month (1000 notifications per month, $0.02 for each additional).
  • Pro: $39.99/month (2500 notifications per month, $0.02 for each additional).
  • Platinum: $79.99/month (5000 notifications per month, $0.02 for each additional).

5. Carbonara

Carbonara restaurant waitlist app

Carbonara is a waitlist, reservation, and ordering system designed for restaurants. It comes with this accessible and user-friendly app that you can use on any mobile device or PC, and it helps streamline the customer flow and improve your restaurant’s visibility online.

Key Features:

  • Interface is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese, plus messaging in  Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish is supported
  • Two-way SMS, WhatsApp messaging, and waitlist drink ordering.
  • Online booking form for automatic reservations.
  • Table management and planning for seating customers.
  • QR code and web link options for customer self-sign-in


  • Free plan comes with limited messaging.
  • Takes a while to get a hang of all its features.
  • Google integration is a separate purchase.

Compatibility: Works on smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Pricing & Plans:

  • Free: Includes basic features, 100 tables per month, limited messaging.
  • Premier: $14.99, unlimited tables. Free messaging (WhatsApp or SMS) per month is limited to 25 reservation messages, 100 waitlist messages, or a mix not to exceed 100 total messages. Messages are paid per usage after that.
  • Reserve with Google Integration: $9.99 per month, integrates with Google for increased visibility.

6. Toast Tables

Toast Tables restaurant waitlist app

Toast Tables is an integrated restaurant wait list app developed by Toast for hosts and managers. Their system offers table management, waitlist handling, and online reservations to help you better manage walk-in customers and those who book ahead. Users can also see real-time table statuses and item/course information from the POS.

Key Features:

  • Customized text messages.
  • Online reservations.
  • Integrated table management, waitlist, and reservations handling.
  • 'Reserve with Google' integration for increased visibility.
  • Real-time POS integration for up-to-date table and course information.
  • Detailed settings for service periods, dining areas, and turn times.


  • Limited device compatibility, not being optimized for small mobile devices like smartphones.
  • Toast integration could use some improvement since it currently isn’t as robust or mature as a product.

Compatibility: Works with Apple iPads and Android tablets.

Pricing & Plans:

  • Quick Start Bundle: Starts at $0/month for their basic POS software with limited additional features.
  • Core: Starts at $69/month.
  • Growth: Starts at $165/month.
  • Build Your Own: Custom, may even include online ordering and delivery.

7. OpenTable Waitlist

Open Table restaurant waitlist app

Open Table is an online reservation service that allows users to discover and book restaurants across the globe, much like Yelp. The OpenTable Waitlist is not an individual restaurant waiting list app but a feature within a complex reservation, waitlist, and table management system. It can do a lot for a matching price, and if you need a waitlist plus other restaurant management tools, it can be an option.

Key Features:

  • Supports text notifications and real-time updates.
  • Online waitlist with remote joining capability.
  • Real-time wait times, place-in-line information, and SMS notifications.
  • Reservation widget for walk-in guests.
  • Integration with POS systems for streamlined operations.
  • Detailed guest database and marketing tools.


  • High-priced.
  • Poor customer service.
  • A complex solution that may not be what every restaurant owner needs.

Compatibility: Works on various mobile devices and with OpenTable’s ecosystem.

Pricing & Plans:

  • Basic: $39/month, includes reservations, guest database, marketing tools, and more.
  • Core: $249/month, includes Basic features, table management, online waitlist, and more.
  • Pro: $449/month, includes Core features plus automated CRM tools.

How to choose the best waitlist app for your restaurant business

When picking the best app for your restaurant's waitlist, make sure that:

  1. It’s simple and intuitive for the entire restaurant staff, from the owner and manager to the front of the house and customers.
  2. It covers at least all the basic needs — sending texts, telling customers how long until they’re up, and letting them sign themselves in.
  3. You can jazz it up with your restaurant's style, logo, or colors to make it part of your place.
  4. It works well even when you grow bigger, handling upgrades without a hitch.
  5. It works well with other systems, like your cash register or reservation system.
  6. It rarely fails, and even then, the customer support team is on it, quick and helpful.
  7. It’s a good deal, not just the first price but any ongoing costs for support and updates.

Eliminate the chaos from your restaurant with the most user-friendly waitlist app

Ready to simplify waitlist management once and for all? The right digital solution can be a game changer for your restaurant.

Don't let another busy night turn into a juggling act. Claim your calm. Start your free, no-strings-attached TablesReady trial today.

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