Restaurants Moving Away from Cash

June 2017

The advent of mobile wallets has given consumers another way to make transactions, and the frequency of credit card and mobile payments is one of the reasons that some restaurant operators have decided to go cashless. According to data eMarketer collected in 2016, 38.4 million Americans ages 14 and older had paid through a mobile device at least once during the previous six months.

Sweetgreen, a fast-casual chain specializing in salads, reportedly spent approximately one year trying out a cashless policy at a variety of its stores before making all of them cashless in 2017. Not all operators can afford to go this route, because credit card payments incur fees, and younger diners in particular may not have access to a credit card.

Despite the potential challenges, there are plenty of pros to consider as well. Removing cash from your establishment may benefit your employees’ and patrons’ health and safety, reducing the spread of germs that may transfer from cash to food and deterring robberies of cash registers.

Relying on card and mobile payments can also save time. Fast Company reported that Sweetgreen employees completed up to 15% more transactions per hour when they weren’t accepting cash, and managers were able to cross counting cash off their to-do lists.

Restaurants that accept online and app orders offer consumers the convenience of making their selections and paying in advance rather than waiting in line. An added feature of this technology is it enables operators to track their customers’ order history, which can allow them to make suggestions tailored to patrons’ preferences.

Is cutting out cash the right choice for you? Weigh in with your thoughts on our Facebook page, and keep up with other industry trends by visiting our Resource Center.


Veneziale, Marcella. May trend watch, Restaurant Hospitality, May 2017.

Mobile Payments in the US Growing Fast, but Still Far from Mass Adoption, eMarketer, November 2016.

Reader, Ruth. Sweetgreen Is Going Fully Cashless In 2017, Fast Company, December 2016.

Francis, Chris. Restaurants lead the charge for the cashless future, Fast Casual, March 2017.

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