Fee-based booking promises end to restaurant lineups

A company in Japan has developed a fee-based reservation system for restaurants. Many of the people using it are busy foreign tourists who want to avoid waiting in line.

A Tokyo-based IT firm rolled out what it calls "FastPass" in February. It promises to eliminate waiting times at restaurants.

Half the seats at a ramen shop in Tokyo are linked to the system. The restaurant says about 50 percent of the users are foreign travelers.

They make their reservations online. The fee is 390 yen, or about 2.50 dollars, per person.

A tourist from Canada says, "It's like 3 or 4 dollars per person. So I don't really mind a faster eating process."

Taniguchi Yu, CEO of TableCheck that provides the service, says: "Time is valuable to tourists. Lots of them think they can be doing something else rather than having to wait in line at a restaurant. We're getting a great response."

Over a dozen restaurants are signed up. The service provider is aiming to increase the number to around 300 by the end of this year.

Editorial note: An earlier version of this report used the phrase "dine and dash" in an inappropriate way.
The original sentence read: "Many of the people using it are busy foreign tourists who would rather dine and dash than wait in line."
It now reads: "Many of the people using it are busy foreign tourists who want to avoid waiting in line."