Jeremy Davids, 40, had a bright idea as he watched his family and two others play musical chairs before sitting down to dinner at a Stonecrest restaurant this past summer.
Davids felt the "mad scramble" for seats and the awkward start to dinner could easily be avoided if he had a seating plan in place.
An avid iPod Touch user, Davids thought, "There must be an app for this," given that there is a smart phone application for millions of other uses.
However, he quickly realized that his idea for a restaurant seating chart application was a niche waiting to be filled.
Ignoring his lack of computer programming experience, the financial services marketing executive pursued his inspiration, which led to the development of the application "Family Quick Sit."
Family Quick Sit, for the iPhone and iPad, customizes and generates a seating chart based on the gender and age of diners, as well as other criteria, such as the shape of the table or the need for couples to sit together.
In developing the application, said Davids, he came to realize there is a logic involved in determining how to sort the levels of information people entered. He hired a programmer, and the two developed a complicated matrix to rank and organize the data.
It took several months before Davids' vision became an actual program ready for use. Davids also had to go through a lengthy approval process to upload the application to the iTunes store, where it now is available for purchase worldwide.
While Davids considers building and launching the application a hobby, he "hopes to make a little money" from the project.
"I work in marketing now but have been entrepreneurial in the past (when) I worked as a musician and booked my own gigs," said Davids. "It's a great feeling to know you can have an idea, have it created, and then from there it's a direct path to entrepreneurism."
Not everyone is convinced an application like Family Quick Sit, even when priced at 99 cents, is worth the money.
Deerfield Creek resident Ilyssa Rubenstein, 35, said, "Do adults really feel the need to get help on something as trivial as where to sit the family at a restaurant for dinner? I think that ultimately it's the kids that put up the fight (about where to sit), so (parents) just need to work it out and figure out what works, not rely on a phone application for this.
"We are not the Jetsons. What will our future be like if this takes place?"
Cathy B. from south Charlotte agreed: "You need an app to figure out where to sit? What happened to good old communication?"
Davids is not dismayed by such criticism. "If you know the feeling of going out to dinner with other families, you know the chaos and what a hassle it can be. Sometimes some kids don't get along or babies need to sit with their moms," he said. "The data-entering process is very quick, and this application is a facilitator to get to better, calmer meals."
Rebecca Plaisance, who runs the South Charlotte Macaroni Kid website, which provides information about family activities in the area, was one of the first to download Family Quick Sit and give it a try.
"I think the app is creative and practical," she said. "I think kids will like it also, because it will be a game to get to see who the app picks for them to sit by. I love the idea of using it for setting a table at the holidays also."
Davids reports that, so far, his application has been purchased by people in the United States and as far away as Ireland and England.
Davids has no plans to ditch his day job in favor of creating more applications.
However, he said, "Now that I know how to do it, I would (create an application) again. I did it for the self satisfaction and for fun."