Checks are so 20th-century: these days, companies are aiming to blast paper by allowing you to handle a restaurant bill entirely via your smartphone. While SF-based OpenTable is currently running a local pilot payment program with a handful of restaurants, another competitor based in NYC has entered the market as of today. It's called Cover, and it's lined up a pretty impressive opening group of restaurants and bars for its debut, including Rich Table, 15 Romolo, Kin Khao, Wayfare Tavern, and every restaurant in the Daniel Patterson Group stable. The process is pretty simple: sign up, add your friends, and "start a table" when you walk into the restaurant. Once your meal is complete (it'll track your bill from start to finish), you can pay with one click. The app also handles tip calculations and check-splitting, taking some of the pain out of group dinners.
Here's who's signed up for the SF launch:
The Brazen Head
Dosa on Valencia
Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant
Ume (fka Plum)
As for how the app (founded by two pals who met at Carnegie Mellon) makes money, it doesn't charge consumers for its services: instead, it processes payments for restaurants and takes a cut comparable to that of credit cards. Given that, you're likely to see Cover arrive at more restaurants soon; it's already up to 80+ in New York, including Carbone, Momofuku Ko, Charlie Bird, and more. The company currently processes around $100K in transactions each month.