This app lets you manage your bar tab from your phone

by Andreas Rekdal
August 29, 2016

Closing out your tab at the end of a night on the town isn't the most fun way to end your night. Instead of gracefully wrapping up conversations with friends old and new, bargoers often end up spending the last 20 minutes of the evening desperately vying for the bartender’s attention.

Tally, a Chicago startup, wants to put an end to that time-consuming ritual by letting customers manage bar tabs from their phones. And by eliminating the need for handing a credit card over to the bar staff, the company hopes to offer peace of mind too.

“We use Braintree for processing credit card payments, so they use the highest standards of security,” said Co-founder and CEO Kevin Bolger.

Upon arriving at a bar that uses Tally, a customer simply opens a tab from within the app and lets the bartender know when placing their first order. By integrating with the bar’s point of sale system, the app also lets a customer see when new items are added to the tab and review the running total whenever they want.

Unless the customer chooses to close the tab manually, Tally will also automatically close it when the customer leaves the establishment. An itemized receipt is automatically emailed to the customer upon closing.

For merchants, the service helps get the word out and streamline operations behind the bar.

“As a bartender, you normally have to take the credit card, open the check and all that,” said Bolger. “We’ve pretty much eliminated that whole process, and it really allows the bartender and the user to have a better experience because the bartender can focus on making drinks and interacting with the customer.”

Initially conceived as an app for ordering drinks and food directly from your phone, Tally decided to focus on tabs after receiving feedback from bar proprietors that this was their biggest pain point.

The more focused application also made it easier to get buy-in from vendors and bartenders. Tally is currently available at 12 locations throughout Chicago including Moe’s Cantina and Hubbard Inn in River North. The company will be introducing about a dozen more locations over the next month or so.

“We’re in a space that’s really untouched, not just with our concept, but in general,” said Bolger.

While there are a few startups throughout the country doing similar things on a local level, no company has emerged as a dominant player. Bolger thinks his team has a leg up because of its emphasis on hiring people with hospitality backgrounds.

In addition to growing its share in Chicago, which Bolger sees as a perfect launching point because of its thriving startup community and robust nightclub scene, Tally is starting to set its eyes on additional market launches in the near future.

Images via Tally.

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