As the debate on whether or not to abandon tipping still rages, another payment policy is gaining traction in the restaurant world: going cashless. The trend has become accepted enough to be adopted by restaurateur Danny Meyer at several of his New York restaurants (including one Shake Shack location) and at popular fast-casual chain Sweetgreen, and now Visa is going all-in on the initiative by sponsoring a “Cashless Challenge,” in which 50 small restaurants were each awarded $10,000 for going cashless.
“The contest asked small businesses in the food service category to explain how the cashless movement could benefit their business for a chance to win a monetary prize,” the credit card company said in a release. “Each winning business received $10,000 they can use to assist in their plans for digital commerce enhancements, point-of-sale upgrades, marketing efforts and other business improvements.”
Many of the selected restaurants are based in tech-savvy Northern California, though eateries from around the country were chosen as well. Winners included Aburaya in Oakland, Bergerac in San Francisco, Crisp in Portland, Oregon, Bright Yellow Creamery in Philadelphia, San Francisco’s Palm House, Houston’s Peli Peli Kitchen, New York’s Sal Cacao, Bakersfield’s Polar Paw Shaved Ice, San Jose’s Project Pasta, and Los Angeles’ Doomie’s NextMex.
Restaurants that go cashless do so for a variety of reasons: to increase point-of-sale efficiency, to increase security for employees, and to reduce overall costs.
“I decided to go cashless because I realized it would make service quicker for both customers and staff,” Simone Falco, the chef and restaurateur behind New York City’s Rossopomodoro, who will be going cashless at his soon-to-open Simo Pizza, told us. “From a business owner standpoint, my restaurant would be able to take more orders, it would allow me to keep proper track of all financial transactions, and I would feel safe knowing that chance of robbery is limited.” Falco added that less than 5 percent of Rossopomodoro customers pay with cash.
Even though going cashless may be a smart move for restaurant owners, some (including the writer of a February Eater feature) feel that not accepting cash is discriminatory and classist against those who may not have the means to obtain a credit or debit card. Falco, however, dismisses the claim, and the consensus among cashless restaurant owners seems to be that folks who only have cash can always just eat somewhere else.
“The thing that’s great about New York (and around the country), is that there are hundreds of restaurants; every restaurant is diverse in its own way and operates differently,” he said. “Going cashless is the way that I’ve decided to operate my restaurant.”
Going cashless seems to be the way of the future, but we have just one request to cashless restaurant owners: Please make sure all customers are aware of the policy before they place their order! Nobody wants to be stuck washing the dishes.