Two Portland friends just launched an app in the Rose City that's hoping to change the way you wait.
It's in the Apple App Store and coming soon for Android called SaF, the Farsi word for 'queue', or line. Essentially, it's a line concierge service, similar to how Uber, Lyft, Caviar and other delivery services work in today's 'gig economy.'
Right now, SaF is in the beta-testing phase and only for restaurants in Portland that don't take reservations.
Here's how it works. Choose your spot you want to dine. Then you're given an estimated waiting time and estimated bill, then you're paired with a line concierge who will go there, put your name on the list, and text you updates until you arrive.
"It starts at about $12.00 for the first 15 minutes, and $1.50 every five minutes thereafter," said co-founder Yalda Moshiri. "Just to put your name on a waitlist is $10.00."
Moshiri has tech experience. She previously worked for Amazon, helping to launch brick and mortar stores out of the Bay Area. Her friend and SaF business partner, Shahrzad Vossoughi, is an acupuncturist and busy mom.
The two started commiserating about waiting in long lines for popular restaurants and how difficult that is to do with children, or while on a date while you're spending the whole date in line.
"I'm a working mom, I don't have a whole lot of time, so it was really something we wanted to find a solution for," Vossoughi said.
As a way of illustrating the need, KGW drove past Jam, a very popular breakfast and brunch spot on Southeast Hawthorne, and there was a nice crowd waiting on the sidewalk at 11 a.m. on a Friday. East Burnside's Screen Door restaurant is infamous for having a long line. We asked several of the two dozen people waiting outside in the sunshine outside Screen Door, and most said they'd been waiting for about 15 minutes when the hostess said the average wait is 30.
With Saf, Moshiri says clients can sleep in or shop nearby until your table's ready. If your table is ready and you're still not physically there, the line concierge will let the next table go in front of you until you arrive. For restaurants that require the entire party to be present before they're seated, the SaF line concierge will text you updates and allow the next table waiting to be seated until your party arrives.
The app creators say there are future plans to make SaF available for the DMV, product launches, even Black Friday. At the DMV, the concierge takes the wait number for you.
Ian, waiting for his table at Screen Door, said he would pay at most $5.00 for a line concierge, but was much more excited about the prospect of hiring someone for the DMV. "The DMV might be worth it. I know someone who waited in line at the DMV for three hours just yesterday!" he said.
SaF says restaurants and chefs are very excited and supportive of the app. Whatever makes it easier for customers to dine with them is much appreciated. It also could bring more repeat business since people won't avoid a restaurant just because of the wait time.
SaF has also partnered with eight Portland hotels like the Jupiter, Jupiter Next, Dossier and Hotel DeLuxe as a branding tool, so guests can use the app at a discount to maximize their time and experience.
Moshiri says it'll bring a boost to the local economy because diners can grab a drink somewhere else or shop nearby in the time they would have been waiting on the sidewalk or a bench. The founders say if Portland's launch goes well, they'll take the app to other cities.
Look for "SaF for Clients" in the App Store if you're a customer, "SaF for Concierges" if you'd like to sign up to be a line concierge. The women say it's a perfect side job for students and those who live in neighborhoods close to restaurants in order to run over and wait in line.