Cash once was king, but it’s being dethroned at some plastic-only restaurants.
A 2014 study by financial services group TSYS found that 74 percent of customers of dine-in restaurants preferred to pay with a credit or debit card. Just 18 percent preferred cash.
It’s also easier than ever for eateries to accept plastic, even food trucks, thanks to payment systems such as Square. Ninety-two percent of U.S. restaurants now take credit cards, according to 2015 data from Euromonitor.
For these reasons — and because there’s less chance of robberies with card swipes instead of printed money in the registers — some restaurants are just dumping cash transactions altogether.
Korean fusion chain Chi’Lantro in Austin, Texas, is going cashless this month. The local chain’s food trucks have been cashless for months for safety reasons.
Owner Jae Kim told Eater that though most of the local chain’s customers (85 percent) pay by credit or debit already, the shift to only plastic at all of Chi’Lantro’s rolling and sit-down restaurants is “a big risk for us.”
Other restaurants accepting only cards and mobile payments include Split Bread in San Francisco and Bozzelli’s Deli & Pizza’s Washington, D.C., location.
“Cash is archaic,” said Michael Bozzelli, co-owner of Bozzelli’s. “Going cashless allows us to expedite the transaction process.”
Accepting plastic also increases sales, notes Anita Campbell, founder and publisher of Small Business Trends. Cards also boost tips. “Why? Simple: Consumers are not tied to what is in their wallets at the moment,” she writes.
“When you pay cash, you can ‘feel’ the money leaving you,” writes money-management guru Dave Ramsey. “This is not true with credit cards. Flipping a credit card up on a counter registers nothing emotionally. A study of credit card use at McDonald’s found that people spent 47 percent more when using credit instead of cash.”
At Chi’Lantro, signs noting the switch to cashless payments have been posted throughout the restaurants. Not everyone is pleased.
Kim tells Austin television station KXAN that people have walked out the door when told of the policy, “because they just don’t agree with it.”
“It may hurt our business in the beginning, but we think in the long term, it will really benefit everyone,” he says.
For hungry boomers, cashless restaurants harkens back to actor Karl Malden’s advice in American Express commercials of the ’70s and ’80s: “Don’t leave home without it.”