News / Toronto

App that lets you skip coffee shop lines taking off in Toronto, expanding to U.S.

Even waiting three minutes for a grilled cheese is too much for people using this line-hopping tool.

A group of workers waited 25 minutes for take out at P&L Burger on Queen West during Thursday’s lunch hour. The burger joint is one of dozens of downtown restaurants where people can bypass the wait via the Ritual app.

Steven Goetz/For Metro

A group of workers waited 25 minutes for take out at P&L Burger on Queen West during Thursday’s lunch hour. The burger joint is one of dozens of downtown restaurants where people can bypass the wait via the Ritual app.

Are we so busy we can’t even wait in line for a latte?

Turns out many are. A business that makes it possible for people to skip the wait at downtown Toronto coffee shops and restaurants is taking off and getting ready to expand into the U.S.

Ritual is the company behind a smartphone app that lets people order and pay for a coffee or meal — all before they even walk through the door of participating eateries.

So far, it’s available at dozens of coffee and lunch spots in the Entertainment District, Liberty Village, King West and the Discovery District — all areas where busy professionals rush out of offices on tightly scheduled breaks.

Barb Kiss, franchise owner of Melt Grilled Cheese on Richmond, says most customers who use Ritual wouldn’t be there without it.

He recalls one customer rushing in to pick up his grilled cheese, which had been waiting for 45 minutes. He explained he’d been stuck on a phone call.

When she offered to make him a fresh order — it only takes about three minutes — he opted to microwave the cold sandwich back at his office instead of waiting.  

“It’s definitely the urban professionals” who are driving the app’s success, Kiss said.

For Ritual’s founder, Ray Reddy, time spent in line is “wasted time,” whether you’re stressed out at work or have the full day free.

“If you have an extra five minutes, I’d rather spend it outside taking a walk, sitting down in a park, or honestly getting back to my office,” he said.

He describes Ritual as downtown’s answer to the convenience of a suburban drive-thru.

Ritual has been consistently adding new restaurants and neighbourhoods since it launched in January. Reddy has been working with the property managers in downtown towers to get the financial district’s eateries on the app.

Once that’s done, the next step is an expansion, to somewhere in the northeast United States, he said.

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