Freewaiter: The Uber of restaurants

If you’ve attended a music festival recently, you know the pain of waiting in line to order food and drinks. (Beer garden, anyone?) Festival organizers have finally started introducing some solutions, including wristbands loaded with the magic of a credit card. Locally, Rock the Shores and Rifflandia have offered festival goers the option to prepay for beverages with a one-time transaction. A slick six-digit customer code presents to the bartender, who then pulls up the drink order on an iPad. The result? Faster lines and less congestion.

It seems so simple. Ordering food on a phone, tablet, or computer, yet very few restaurants—takeout or dine-in— offer the service. Freewaiter wants to change that. After testing their product at Rifflandia (the six-digit codes, that was them), they secured a contract with Switzerland House at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. These onetime applications proved that businesses and consumers both wanted an easier way to place and pay for an order.

FreeWaiter 1“We give you the ability to serve yourself. Servers may say ‘They’re going to take my job away’, but that’s not what Freewaiter means at all. It gives you the freedom to be a server,” says Alex Cook, the North American representative for Freewaiter.

Since Sochi, Freewaiter has focused on integrating their technology (it’s not an app) at restaurants, golf courses, and hotels. Based in Victoria, with the development team in Russia, Freewaiter already has a number of local businesses onboard, including Azuma Sushi, Phonomenal, and Sookjai Thai.

“There are a number of companies that are doing this, quite a few if you start searching around. We do a lot of things differently. We haven’t purposely gone and shouted out ‘Here we are, we are Free Waiter and we are looking for your business!’ It has been very B2B (business to business),” adds Cook.

Freewaiter creates a custom URL for a restaurant, populating the program with menu items, photos, and prices. There are options for delivery, takeout or dine in. Restaurants can add and update wait times for orders. Payments in cash or credit are accepted.

So far, delivery and takeout have seen the most interest. Cook credits that to the grab-‘n-go trend where food is constantly available. “I always use Starbucks and Noodle Box as my examples. They are excellent at making people wait for food.”

FreeWaiter 3Freewaiter also gives customers the option to share their order on Twitter and Facebook, a built-in promotion for the restaurant. “We charge a monthly fee for Freewaiter, no contract. We do ask for six months for customers to get accustomed to the service. Just by adding our service, one restaurant increased their mobile ordering sales by 800%,” says Cook.

He wonders how many orders a restaurant loses when the option to order online isn’t available. While the ease and efficiency is hard to deny, I wonder if collectively, we all order more food when deciding from behind a screen?

Moving forward, Freewaiter looks to expand beyond Victoria. Already, they’re working with a hotel chain in Finland. Find them online at



Written By:

Kaitlyn Rosenburg holds a BFA in creative writing with a minor in journalism and publishing from the University of Victoria. Her work has appeared in local publications such as The Martlet, as well as national publications like ...

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