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Smarter bar-hopping via Web
By Mike Murphy
Third-year computer science student Deepak Sethi was tired of waiting in long, cold lineups for bars.
So, thinking bargoers could find out on-line what would help them avoid ending up in line, Sethi created a Web site which features the length of lines at London bars.
"It's up and running," Sethi said of www.predrink.com, which he launched two weekends ago. He said he and a friend, third-year economics student Oliver Williams, thought of the idea last March, but it was not until this past Christmas break that they were able to complete work on the site.
"Our initial idea was to have cameras at every bar but the idea wasn't feasible," Sethi said. Instead, either he or his partner drives around London, estimates how long the lines are and phones them in via cell phone so the other can upload the data, he explained.
The site gets updated every 20 to 25 minutes as does a phone hotline featuring the same lineup stats, he said. The Web page displays line lengths for The Drink, the Ceeps, the Ridout, DV8, Jim Bob Ray's and five other London bars.
Sethi said he and Williams have run the site for the past two Thursdays and Saturdays from 9:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. and plan to maintain that schedule for the future. "We're closing in on 10,000 page views," he said.
At DV8, promotions manager Hugh Shilhan said Web cameras would be a good idea, but he doubted whether a site updated every 20 minutes would prove accurate.
"I don't know if that would work," he said, adding line lengths can sometimes fluctuate considerably in a matter of minutes. "Sometimes just the formality of checking IDs can make the line look longer than it is," Shilhan said. "It can be misleading."
Still, Shilhan said the site might make things harder for bars that try to attract more customers by maintaining needlessly long lines. "I'm not going to name names, [but] some bars do that and it's horrible."
Jessica Storozinska, a first-year health sciences student, said she thought the Web site had potential. "People get so annoyed," she said. "I went to [a downtown bar] on Thursday and the lineup was outrageous. We had to get a cab and go back home."
General manager of the Ceeps, Susan Kisch, said she has heard of lineup cameras in New York and Los Angeles and thinks the idea of a lineup monitor is interesting. "I think they're fun. I don't think they'll be a detriment to the bar business."
Most bar patrons have a good idea of the kind of line they can expect on any given night, Kisch said, which made her wonder whether the site would tell people anything new.