Rate Square for Restaurants

Updated as of November, 2019

Square is a popular POS and payment transaction platform. Today in this review, I’ll be taking a look at its POS system for restaurants: Square for Restaurants.  In this review, we’ll dig in to find out if it’s the right POS system to bring your restaurant into the 21st Century.

If you manage a restaurant or café, your place of work can get jam-packed with customers. Managing orders, accepting payments, splitting checks, preparing food, and keeping customers happy can all get overwhelming. If you’re currently using an outdated POS platform, you may be lagging behind the competition and hurting your profits.

There are various types of POS systems on the market, but modern restaurant management platforms have emerged to help restaurant owners improve their operations. If you haven’t been using one of these newcomers, or worse if you’re still using a cash register vs a POS, you may be missing out on features to increase your productivity and your bottom line.  Let’s get started with the pros and cons of Square for Restaurants.

Pros

  • Extremely easy to use and learn
  • Built specifically for the restaurant industry
  • Affordable monthly price points
  • Built-in payment processing that accepts all major credit cards
  • You can quickly deposit earnings to your bank account
  • Flat rate payment processing fees
  • Easy to build menus, easy to customize orders
  • A range of add-ons that help improve customer experience
  • Process payments with Offline Mode
  • Accept payments at the table with the all-new Square Terminal

Cons

  • Restricted to Square’s payment processing
  • Limited hardware options
  • A track record for freezing funds after suspicious transactions

Overview of Square for Restaurants

Square for Restaurants is one of the significant new entrants to the restaurant POS market. The company acts both as a POS provider and a payment processor. As a point of sale system, Square offers a few different specializations that help specific business niches benefit from tailor-made POS platforms.

Square for Restaurants is a restaurant-specific iPad App for the Square POS system platform. It is specifically designed to help restaurant owners manage their businesses and process transactions effectively. The product incorporates a range of different menu-building and transaction tools that help you streamline processes within your business.  The new software also integrates into Square’s ecosystem so you can tap into service like Payroll, Loyalty, Marketing, and Capital.

Square is famous for its small ‘square’ magstripes that attach to portable devices. This payment processing company changed the way that many small business owners approached transactions. Square is well-suited for those who have flexible needs — the software can be installed on a range of different devices, both purchasable through Square and independently. You can even use Square on your cell phone!

While Square also offers retail and general POS services, my review today will focus solely on its product for restaurants. If you’d like to take a look at their other POS systems, you’ll find an overall Square POS review here on our site!

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Pricing

Depending on the current size of your restaurant, the price of your POS system may have a major impact on your restaurant’s viability. Before you can decide if a POS system is right for your restaurant, you need to decide if you can afford it. Below, I’ve created a bullet chart that takes an in-depth look at the different pricing options available to US-based customers.

How much does Square for Restaurants cost?  Here is the pricing:

Square Restaurant POS Pricing

  • Monthly – $60
  • Extra POS Device – $40
  • Square Reader Charge – 2.6% + 10c
  • Square Stand Charge – 2.6% + 10c
  • Typed Number Charge – 3.5% + 15c
  • Payroll Manager – $5/month per employee
  • Next Day Deposit – Free
  • Same Day Deposit – 1%

*These prices may change at any time, to get the latest pricing information, visit Square for Restaurants here.

As you can see, Square charges its customers via a monthly fee and a range of different transaction costs. These are the transaction costs you would typically have to pay to a separate payment processing company — Square takes care of this for you. When you consider the features that Square offers its customers, the pricing structure is undoubtedly a good bargain.

Another few costs to pay attention to in the table are the payroll management costs and the deposit costs. If you want Square to manage your payroll and your employee’s hours, you’ll have to pay $5 per month. Fortunately, if you want a next day deposit of your restaurant’s earnings, you won’t have to pay anything at all. You can even get your earnings instantly deposited into your account for a 1% fee — you won’t find this feature with many other POS platforms.

Still, some new entrants to the restaurant industry may find that Square is an expensive option – this is especially true when you consider that you have to invest in your hardware. We’ll explore Square for Restaurants hardware costs in more detail in a dedicated section of this review!

Keep in mind: Square for Restaurants is happy to work with companies on an individual basis. If you have a large volume of transactions, you may be able to get a cheaper payment processing rate.  If you process high ticket items or do a lot of processing volume, then you’ll want to explore this avenue – that’s because the flat fee can end up costing you more in the long run compared to an Interchange-Plus pricing model you can get with most merchant providers.

Square for Restaurants – Promo Video

Key Features

Square Restaurant POS System Screenshot

If you want to choose the right POS platform for your restaurant, you need to make sure that you look at the features it has to offer. Below, I’ll take a look at the different benefits you can find packed inside Square for Restaurants:

  • You can quickly build menus – you can also store and manage different menus for different meal times and seasons.
  • You can design menus from the POS interface or a remote computer.
  • Custom color coding allows you and your staff to navigate the restaurant interface better.
  • Full table and ticket management are available via the Square for Restaurants portal.
  • Create floor plans and track covers.
  • View all your location data from a central location.
  • Staff can send live order updates to the kitchen if customers change their mind.
  • Mobile payment and ordering are available for food trucks.
  • Comprehensive employee management system available for an extra charge.
  • A cloud-based reporting system that allows you to analyze performance.
  • Tableside ordering and payments are available with Square Terminal.
  • Directly email receipts to customers, or print them on-location.
  • Process payments with Offline Mode.
  • Access free catering contract templates.
  • Instant deposits to your bank account.
  • 24/7 technical support available.
  • Build a loyalty program for frequent customers (extra cost).

Square Table Layout

Cloud-Based or Locally Installed?

Unlike many POS systems of the past, Square has a cloud-based component that allows you to upload reporting data and store vital information. While the software is locally installed via an App on your hardware device, like the components of most POS systems, you can access your sales data and staff information via a cloud – this is an excellent feature if you’re managing multiple restaurants from an outside location.

This hybrid design also ensures you don’t lose track of valuable reporting data and information. If your hardware system is stolen or damaged, you’ll still be able to get up-and-running on a new device without any hiccups.

Industries Served & Business Size

Square for Restaurants is exclusively for businesses operating in hospitality that need a point of sale solution for counter and table service. It’s excellent for a restaurant, café, coffee shop, food truck, or small bar. While Square for Restaurants can handle large order volume, it’s not quite as powerful as some of the high-end options on the market. For this reason, it’s best suited to small and mid-sized restaurants.

Ease of Use

One of Square for Restaurant’s major selling points is how easy it is to use. Many older POS systems have clunky and confusing interfaces that increase the chances of a mistake. If you want to process transactions quickly, using an intuitive platform is your best option.

Square Restaurant POS Example

Square for Restaurants makes it easy to take orders, seat patrons, accept payments, split tickets, and view reporting data. If you’ve been using an outdated system, you’ll be blown away with how quickly you can learn Square. It’s a great POS option if you want a platform that allows you to onboard new staff members without hours of training time.

Hardware Requirements

Another reason Square is an easy option for restaurant owners is the availability of complete POS kits to help you get up and running quickly. It takes the guesswork out of your hardware needs.  With Square for Restaurants, you can use your iPad (if it’s a compatible generation) or purchase one from Square. You can also purchase a Square Stand restaurant station if you want to fix your payment portal in a specific location.  Also, with the Square Terminal, you can even take payments tableside, which is an advanced feature of restaurant management systems.

Square offers implementation services to assist with onboarding.  Here are details from their website – partner with an onboarding expert for one-on-one help with menus, floor plans, team training, onsite technical support, and more. Starting at $600.

For the Square hardware setup, we recommend purchasing all your hardware from the POS vendor so you get everything that’s compatible and it makes it easier to support issues that may arise.

Square Restaurant POS Hardware

Here are some of Square’s hardware prices to give you an idea of cost:

Square Stand Restaurant Station (iPad Not Included) – $1,074

What’s included:

  • USB Receipt Printer
  • Receipt Printer Paper (25 Rolls)
  • Ethernet Kitchen Printer
  • Kitchen printer paper (25 rolls)
  • 16 in. Printer-Driven Cash Drawer
  • Square Stand for Contactless and Chip Square

Stand Restaurant Station with Square Terminal (iPad Not Included) – $1,473

What’s included:

  • Square Stand for Contactless and Chip
  • Square Terminal
  • USB Receipt Printer
  • Ethernet Kitchen Printer
  • Receipt Printer Paper (25 Rolls)
  • Kitchen printer paper (25 rolls)
  • 16 in. Printer-Driven Cash Drawer

To see the latest hardware offerings and current prices, shop Square online here.

Integrations & Add-ons

In terms of integrations, most of Square’s current partnerships are with accounting software platforms. You can integrate your Square for Restaurants’ data with QuickBooks or Xero — this can help you save a lot of time when tax season comes calling.

As mentioned previously, you can get Square to add payroll management services for a small monthly fee. You can also pay to have a loyalty program set up to help you reward your regular customers. You can use this program to create loyalty points or bonuses and track the spending habits of your most loyal visitors.

Also, you can sell gift cards for a small fee per card. As you can tell, there are plenty of great add-ons available that can help you affordably improve the benefits you can offer your staff and customers.

The Caviar integration with Square for Restaurants will allow you to see delivery and pickup orders directly within the point of sale.

Compatible Credit Card Companies

As mentioned previously, Square also acts as a payment processor. Unlike many POS systems, which give you the flexibility to choose your payment processor, Square requires you to use its platform. With Square, you can process all major credit cards, including Visa, Discover, MasterCard, and American Express. You can also process contactless transactions.  You can also accept payments tableside with the Square Terminal.

While this is convenient, it’s also a disadvantage. If you’re someone who wants to keep your current processing partner or shop around for the best deal, you don’t have that benefit with Square.

Customer Service and Support

There are plenty of POS systems that talk a big game — unfortunately, many of these providers have horrible reputations when you look at different consumer watchdog groups. To get a better idea of Square’s customer service reputation, it’s essential to look at common complaints.

One of the most common complaints that you see about Square is actually from customers, not restaurant owners. Many people complain they were ‘double charged’ using the Square payment platform. While this isn’t your fault, it can reflect poorly on your business if a customer believes they’re being scammed.

The other complaints primarily revolve around frozen funds and suspended accounts. Some business owners complain their funds were frozen or their accounts were suspended without warning – this can be a significant pain if you have a lot of money tied up in the platform.

While this is certainly annoying, it’s the result of strict anti-crime measures from Square. All indications point towards a company that values the legal use of its services. If anything, this is an overall positive attribute.

In terms of real customer support, you’ll find that Square has recently begun to offer 24/7 customer support to its Square for Restaurants clients.

Our Verdict

At the end of the day, other than it being a newer product, it’s hard to find much wrong with Square for Restaurants for a reasonably inexpensive software and hardware combo. However, I mainly like the product for smaller environments, and I think it’s a simple solution for restauranteurs opening a new restaurant. If you process a lot of credit card volume and especially if your average ticket price is high, Square for Restaurants will not be your best option due to the flat credit card rate and the potential of money being held.  See customer service and support issues above.

As far as the App itself, it’s a practical, restaurant-specific POS software built by one of the most trusted names in the business. If you want a mobile POS for restaurants on the iPad platform that is flexible, and easy-to-use, this is undoubtedly one option to consider for smaller restaurant or bar environments.  The familiar touchscreen nature of the Square App makes it extremely easy to learn and use on the iPad.

While Square’s hardware options are relatively limited, it does provide you with most everything you need to get started with the ability to bring your iPad to the table.  If you have your own iPad, you can start using the App right away.

Its restaurant features will get better with time, but the existing App will genuinely improve your ability to manage your venue, train your staff, and keep your customers happy. On the other hand, if you want payment processor flexibility and more options with hardware, Square for Restaurants will not be the best option available to you.

Image Credits: Square

Editor’s note:  How’d we do on our Square for Restaurants review?  Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns?  Your feedback is important to us.  Please let us know in the comments below or contact us.