Jeffrey selingojune 25,2003 earlier on Wednesday night, it took 20 minutes to wait for a table at the popular Washington snack restaurant, Jaleo, and it is still growing.
Along the bar, customers lined up three deep lines for sangria's pitcher.
Almost accompanied by the beat of flamenco music in the background, the red light at the top of the bar flashes.
It's not a light show, it's a signal that the next table is ready for the lucky ones with pulsating light.
There used to be only the mainstay of casual restaurants like TGI Friday and Olive Garden, and as restaurants look for better ways to get in and out of diners quickly, the paging system is used more widely.
Table turnover is important: half the income of a typical restaurant is generated on Friday and Saturday.
"The restaurant doesn't want to upset you so you can go to the competitors on the street," said David Stoke, president of JTech Communications, a restaurant paging system manufacturer.
"It establishes connections between customers and restaurants, allowing people to move around, rather than gathering around the hostess to wait for their names to be called out.
"Advertising Company Ken Lovegreen, founder of remote systems, another company that produces pagers, developed one of the most popular versions in early 1990s, roller coaster pagers.
In a restaurant, he had the idea that the hostess was handing out bulky pagers, and many customers fumbled and let go.
Ad "I guess, why not have a thing in the bar that can be like a roller coaster and it will light up when the table is ready? '' said Mr.
Lovegreen recently designed a lobster.
The shape of the seafood restaurant pager and the straw hat of the Mexican restaurant. The water-
The stacked roller coaster pager is very popular.
For example, remote systems sell about 100,000 of the equipment each year.
Typical systems, including transmitters, Chargers and 40 pagers, cost about $3,000.
While pagers are able to reach two miles from their base, the system range for most restaurants is much smaller ---
Usually 1,000 feet--
Hope customers stay nearby and maybe spend money at the bar while waiting.
Please click on the box to verify that you are not a robot.
The email address is invalid. Please re-enter.
You must select the newsletter you want to subscribe.
View all New York Times newsletters.
The limited range also reduces the time customers sit down and prevents them from wandering to another restaurant.
When waiting customers decide to go somewhere else, they sometimes forget to return the pager and it will take about $80 to replace it.
Operation director Anthony yalamos says gialio loses pagers several times a month, especially in the summer.
This is a special problem with the outpost in the suburb of jacio, Bethesda, Maryland.
Located in the bustling area of restaurants and shops.
Mon Ami Gabi, a French bistro from Bethesda Julio, is experimenting with a paging system that uses a customer's mobile phone, in part to reduce the number of missing pagers, said restaurant general manager Matt lurick.
When the customer's desk is ready, the paging device calls his phone and plays a recording message.
"Customers like this choice"Lourick said.
He said his guest was using it for about a quarter and so far no one has hesitated whether to give a phone number or not.
"So they can browse across the street at Barnes & Noble without worrying about losing the table," he said . ". While Mr.
The long-distance system's lofgreen predicts that mobile technology will eventually enter more restaurants.
Stokoe of JTech questioned whether a typical customer would like to give his phone number to a stranger.
Also, "the restaurant doesn't want you to be 14 miles away when your table is ready," Mr. Stokoe said.
"They want you to be 14 feet away from them.
The two companies are now involved in a legal dispute over waiting --list pagers.
The remote system may have filed a lawsuit against JTech in accusing the company of infringing the patents of roller coaster pagers and mobile devices.
The case is under trial.
We are constantly improving the quality of text archives.
Please send feedback, error reports, and suggestions to archid_feedback @ nytimes. com.
A version of the article was printed on page 8 of the National edition Gilles on June 25, 2003, with the title: How it works;
Roller coaster with news: your table is ready.