Tabbedout is a free app for smartphones that allows patrons to open a tab at a bar or restaurant, view the tab in real time and close the tab with a tip -- even after leaving the establishment -- without handing over a credit card.
For customers the advantages are obvious: You don't need to have a credit card on you, much less hand it over, and when you're done you don't have to wait for a busy bartender or server to close your tab. In areas where restaurants and bars cluster in bunches -- the Loop, the Central West End, Maplewood, South Grand, Washington Avenue -- Tabbedout can take barhopping to a new level.
It might also cut down on credit-card theft -- good news for an industry that got a public-relations black eye two weeks ago when authorities arrested seven New York City waiters who allegedly participated in an elaborate credit-card and identity-theft scam that netted more than $1 million.
For businesses that opt in to the service, the advantages come in the form of convenience and speed.
Bartenders lose valuable time opening and closing tabs and handling credit cards -- time that could be spent mixing drinks. Same goes for restaurants. Credit- and debit-card transactions dominate restaurant purchases, and settling up at the end of a meal can take time, especially during peak hours.
"It's extremely easy to use," says Ryan Pinkston, co-owner of Three Kings Public House (6307 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-721-3355). Pinkston says his pub began using Tabbedout about two months ago and has seen nothing but positive results. "There's really no downside to it."
Elsewhere on Delmar, Tabbedout is up and running at Fitz's (6605 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-726-9555) and Eclipse (6177 Delmar Boulevard; 314-726-2222). It can also be found at Scape American Bistro (48 Maryland Plaza; 314-361-7227) in the Central West End.
Justin Wells, an account manager for DCRS Solutions, the company that markets Tabbedout locally, says he hopes to have more clients onboard with the arrival of the new year.
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