Ballston Startup Launches New System to Improve Dining Experience

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Ballston startup GoTab, which facilitates QR code ordering in restaurants, has unveiled its new, all-in-one point-of-sale system for restaurants and bars.

The cloud-based system is designed to help restaurants and bars adapt to a growing preference for online ordering without erasing the personal connection of in-person service.

GoTab launched its contactless ordering technology in 2016, but experienced a huge boon in use during the pandemic when contactless ordering and payment became the norm. Today, it operates in restaurants, hotels, resorts, golf courses, festivals and the Capital One Arena in D.C.

And now, the startup is banking on restaurants seeing these technological changes not as pandemic-era adaptations, but as new fixtures of the dining experience. One way it aims to do that is by incorporating the benefits of QR code ordering — more guest control over ordering and paying — into a soup-to-nuts sales platform that works for eateries.

“With the GoTab all-in-one restaurant POS, operators can now easily tailor a guest-initiated experience or a server-initiated experience, enabling both parties to start and access the ordering tab and giving everyone flexibility to place orders however they wish,” the company says.

The all-in-one point of sale from Arlington-based startup GoTab (courtesy photo)

Having the information accessible both by servers and customers makes it easier for customers to communicate what they want and easier for servers to curate positive dining experiences, the company says.

It also means less work for servers, as the system eliminates the need to take down orders and modifications by hand and input them manually into a legacy point-of-sale system.

With GoTab, servers and managers can start and add to a digital tab, pass the tab to guests and update it later with order changes. Guests can then close out their tab on their phones with a credit card or mobile payment platform.

“Servers can be proactive and anticipate guests’ needs,” the release said.

And after the guests leave, GoTab’s cloud-based system remembers guests’ preferences, meaning restaurants can repurpose that information. The traditional system, meanwhile, only captures the information of the person paying, CEO Tim McLaughlin said.

“In a traditional restaurant — let’s say you have a table of four — a restaurant is lucky if they can capture a single diner’s data for loyalty, spending insights and marketing purposes,” he said. “With GoTab, operators have access to all four diners’ ordering details. So we provide an operator with exponentially more first-party data.”

With that information, he said, restaurants and bars can create loyalty programs and foster repeat customers.