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Ballston startup GoTab, which facilitates QR code ordering in restaurants, has picked up a lot of extra tables over the last 18 months.
“We’ve continued to grow,” CEO Tim McLaughlin said. “We lost a couple of clients nostalgic for the old way, but our product is fully compatible with operating a classic restaurant.”
GoTab, which launched in 2016, operates in restaurants, hotels, resorts, golf courses, festivals and the Capital One Arena in D.C. It does more than provide black squares that guests scan while seated at a table, however. It also targets ordering takeout or delivery and regular sales.
While its services are diverse, GoTab has seen the most growth with QR code ordering — especially during the pandemic, when contactless ordering helped keep restaurants open and staff and diners safe.
Last year, the number of payments made through the app grew by 100 times, he said. This year alone, payments are set to increase by 20 times. For the CEO, the staggering growth is hard to quantify to people.
“GoTab gets paid if restaurants get paid, so we measure success by payments,” he said. “People think I’m saying 100% growth. No, it’s 100 times.”
There are a few other signs of growth, too. Today, the company employs 65 staff, up from the nearly 20 it had last year, and the 35 to 45 employees with whom it kicked off 2021. And, as of last month, GoTab expanded into Canada. The company is looking to move into a number of other English-speaking countries, McLaughlin said.
Within a month, it will move into multi-merchant ordering. For example, if a group of friends visits the Ballston Quarter food hall — which is next to GoTab’s offices at 901 N. Stuart Street — everyone can scan the QR code at a table and order from multiple restaurants in one cart with one payment.
“If you go with your friends, you don’t have to all split up and have someone hold the table,” he said. “It’s fun if you want to go check out what they’re selling. If you have been there a few times, and you want to hang out with friends, that’s when it’s not fun.”
Businesses see the payments separately and it helps restaurants and customers save money on credit card fees.
McLaughlin said the black squares are not aimed at replacing servers. Rather, GoTab eliminates the need to hail down a waiter to add a last-minute order, fight through a crowd to close out at the bar, or wait for the check when pressed for time, he said.
“We are not against servers,” he said. “Right now, in many of our venues, you can order from a server and a phone, and go back and forth. It’s the best of both worlds.”
GoTab plans to transform any industry where payment- and service-related inefficiencies can be solved with tech. Restaurants were the first because that’s where technology was lacking the most, McLaughlin said.
“We’re not trying to eliminate local jobs,” he said. “We’re trying to support them and make them competitive.”
For restaurants, takeout companies such as Doordash, which has its own staff and is starting to open ghost kitchens, is the real competition. For local retail, it’s e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, as customers appreciate up-to-date inventories and quick delivery.
“Local merchants are good at the high-touch part of [the customer experience] but they’re not so good at inventory management and logistics,” he said. “We’re bringing tech to brick and mortar stores so they can be competitive with e-commerce-only companies.”
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A march against drugs drew a large crowd of parents and community members to Wakefield High School, where a student died this week.
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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village