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Square POS for Restaurants 2019 Review: Pricing, Features, Reviews

Maddie Shepherd

Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!
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Since it came on the scene back in 2009, Square has been seriously shaking up the point of sale system industry. Now, Square has carved out an iconic space for itself within small business point of sale systems. If you’re an active small business patron, it’s hard to go a day without running a payment through a Square POS system.

And what about Square POS for restaurants specifically?

We know that Square actively caters to the needs of small businesses like retail shops and cafés, but can Square POS systems hold up to the heat that often accompanies the pressures of running a restaurant?

We’ve put together a comprehensive review of Square POS for restaurants to help you answer that question.

Square POS for Restaurants: Quick-Service Restaurants

First, let’s take a look at which Square POS for restaurants will be the best fit for the specific needs of quick-service restaurants.

When customers come to a quick service restaurant, they expect the process to be, well, quick. And this applies to the checkout process, as well.

To find the perfect Square POS for restaurants that require speed and efficiency, look to the two powerful countertop Square POS systems.

Square Stand

One top option for restaurants that need to churn out orders is the Square Stand. This Square option will convert an iPad into a powerful, highly efficient POS system for your quick service restaurant.

The three quick payment options—magstripe card swiping, EMV chip card insertion, or contactless payment taps—that the Square Stand offers make it an ideal Square POS for restaurants that can’t afford to have a line of customers out the door.

Plus, the suggested tip and digital receipt functions that this Square POS for restaurants comes with will move the line even quicker.

The Square Stand will cost your business $169 to buy, and you’ll have to come to the table with an iPad, so be sure to factor that extra cost in if your business doesn’t already have one at the ready.

Square Register

If you’re looking for an even more powerful and efficient Square POS for restaurants that need to move especially quickly, look to the Square Register.

This is the most powerful of all your Square POS for restaurants options, and it can seriously streamline your quick service restaurant’s checkout process.

The Square Register comes with all of the capabilities that the Square Stand boasts—and then some. Plus, this Square POS is particularly well-suited for restaurants because it comes with two displays—with one specifically dedicated for the customer’s checkout experience.

Now, as the most powerful of the top options for Square POS for restaurants, the Square Register won’t be a bargain—it will cost your business a cool $999.

That said, by sparing you the iPad purchase you’d have to make for other Square POS for restaurants, plus the extra capabilities, the Square Register could very easily be worth it for your business.

square pos for restaurants

Square POS for Restaurants: Sit-Down Service Restaurants

For business owners searching for a Square POS for restaurants that are sit-down establishments, speed won’t be as much of an issue. Instead you can focus your criteria for a Square POS for restaurants toward different factors that are more important for your business.

Perhaps you want a Square POS for restaurants that will allow you to ring up your customers right at their table. Or maybe you’d prefer to not shell out a ton of capital on your POS.

Either way, you’ll likely be able to find a Square POS system that will cater to your full service restaurant’s needs.

Square Stand, with the Square Contactless and Chip Reader

Our recommended combo for Square POS for sit-down restaurants is the Square Stand that we previously mentioned, plus the Square reader for contactless and chip reader for added mobility.

With this combination, you and your employees will have both the power that comes with the Square Stand, plus the mobility that the Square reader adds into the equation.

The Square contactless and chip reader is able to connect to smart devices through Bluetooth and can process magstripe-only cards, EMV chip cards, and contactless payments. Plus, this reader only costs $49.

What Makes Square POS Ideal for Restaurants?

Now that we’ve cover the very best options for Square POS for restaurants that both fast-paced and those that are leisurely, let’s step back a bit.

What is it about Square POS systems that make them so ideal for restaurants?

Even beyond the best Square POS for restaurants options that we listed above, all of the Square POS options you’ll come across are particularly well-suited for restaurant point of sale needs.

Let’s take a look at what features make these systems so ideal for this industry:

Square Point of Sale Software

The main factor that makes Square POS for restaurants such a phenomenon is its top-of-the line point of sale software. This software—called the Square Point of Sale app—comes completely free with your Square account. But don’t let that fool you—even though this software is free, it’s one of the most powerful POS software options on the market.

And the reason why Square POS for restaurants is such a great fit? It’s mostly because this software is powerful in all the ways that restaurant owners and employees need it to be.

Tipping

Any Square POS for restaurants that runs on the Square software makes tipping supremely easy for customers to do, with suggested tipping that allows customers to tip with the press of a button.

Plus, with this automated tipping process making it easier for customers to tip, your employees will certainly thank you.

Receipts

Additionally, Square POS for restaurants simplifies processes surrounding receipts. Your customers will be able to decide between print and digital receipts, and should they choose to receive a digital receipt, they’ll also be able to choose between an emailed or texted receipt.

Granted, none of the Square POS for restaurants will come with built-in receipt printers like some of their competitors will, but third-party receipt printers will be easy to integrate with your Square POS for restaurant system.

Inventory

Through the Square software, you’ll be able to automatically track all stocks of inventory that your business relies on. When you’re running low, Square will send you a reminder email to place an order.

Employees

Finally, you’ll be able to easily manage your employees through the Square POS for restaurants. Because employees are able to clock in and clock out through Square, the Square POS itself will attach each employee to every transaction—and most importantly, every tip—they make.

As a result, Square POS for restaurants is able to completely automate all tip reconciliation processes.

Square Point of Sale Hardware

Although the Square Point of Sale software is a huge part of the reason why Square POS for restaurants works so well, another big reason for its success is its customizable hardware.

Countertop Hubs

A crucial facet for Square POS for restaurants is the option to access a countertop hub POS. Having one central POS—for both sit-down and quick-service restaurants alike—will allow for one central hub for transactions.

Square POS offers this experience in the form of the souped up Register and the more affordable, yet still highly capable Stand.

Option for Mobility

Whether they’re just a cherry on top of a more central Square POS system hardware, or the central Square hardware themselves, Square’s mobile readers can be absolute game changers when it comes to Square POS for restaurants.

Having the option to move with Square POS for restaurants allows for greater flexibility and utmost point of sale convenience.

square pos for restaurants

Square Point of Sale Costs

You can’t fully grasp the Square POS for restaurants phenomenon without getting a good understanding of just how affordable and transparent Square POS pricing is.

Unlike many other point of sale companies, Square will make sure you’re aware of every cost and fee you’re paying, and exactly why you’re paying each of them.

Payment Processing Fees

First, Square is remarkably transparent with their payment processing fees.

With all of their hardware besides the Register, transactions will have uniform processing fees—all non-manual transactions will simply cost your business 2.75% of the transaction value, while manually keyed-in transactions will cost your business 3.5% of the transaction value, plus $0.15.

With the Square Register, non-manual transactions will only cost your business 2.5% of the transaction value, plus $0.10.

Software Costs

Even better? The default Square POS software won’t cost your business any extra. While many competitors of Square POS for restaurants will charge your business a monthly fee for access to their software, Square won’t do that.

Now, you’ll be able to access a myriad of capabilities through this free POS software, but if you want to upgrade, you can pay $60 for the Square for Retail POS software.

Hardware Costs

The final factor that makes Square POS for restaurants such a top-notch solution is the reasonable hardware costs.

In fact, the Square magstripe reader is one of the only completely free pieces of POS hardware available on the market.

And even the more powerful pieces of hardware for Square POS for restaurants—like the $169 Stand or the $999 Register—still come with fair prices, especially when measured against industry standards.

Downsides to Square POS for Restaurants

Now that we’ve gushed about Square POS for restaurants, it’s time to recognize some of the very real flaws that will come with these POS options. Let’s take a look at the imperfections that might make you hesitate on choosing Square POS for restaurants:

No Receipt Printer

One of the most notable flaws is that Square POS systems don’t come with receipt printers.

Even in this digital age, many consumers prefer to have their receipts printed rather than sent to them over text or email.

With Square POS for restaurants, providing your customers with print receipts won’t necessarily be a straightforward process. Because even the most powerful Square POS for restaurants won’t come with a receipt printer, you’ll have to find a third-party printer to tack onto your Square system in order to offer print receipts.

This will not only be an added cost to your Square POS for restaurants, but will also require additional effort and know-how.

Necessary Additional Technology

The appeal of Square POS for restaurants can also prove to be one of its main downfalls, depending on your perspective.

On the one hand, the fact that Square POS allows your restaurant to convert a smart device into a powerful point of sale is pretty revolutionary. However, unless you opt for the Square Register—the most expensive Square POS for restaurants—you’ll have to come to the table with a smart device.

So, if your business isn’t already equipped with a smartphone, a table, or an iPad, then you’ll have to invest in one in order to access Square POS for restaurants.

square pos for restaurants

The Top Alternative to Square POS for Restaurants

With a working knowledge of the ins and outs—both good and bad—of Square POS for restaurants, you’re likely coming to a juncture in your search for the perfect POS system for your restaurant.

Either the pros of Square POS for restaurants seem to outweigh the cons, or the other way around. Regardless of whether you think Square POS for restaurants is the right fit for your business, looking into your other options is a smart move to make before you commit.

Clover Point of Sale Systems

Your top alternatives to Square POS for restaurants all come from the same company—Clover.

Although most all Clover POS systems will be powerful options for any business, a few will be perfectly tailored to the needs of restaurants.

Let’s take a look at how these three Clover POS systems will stack up against your top options from Square POS for restaurants:

Clover Go

If you’re searching for a counterpart to the mobile Square card readers, look to the Clover Go.

Just like Square POS for restaurants, a Clover POS system comes with the option of mobility thanks to the Clover Go. This piece of POS hardware will connect to your Clover system via Bluetooth, and it will allow your employees to run magstripe, EMV chip, and contactless payments whenever and wherever they need to. This hardware costs $59.

Clover Flex

The Clover Flex—with its perfect balance between mobility and power—doesn’t have a counterpart anywhere on the market, even within the Square POS for restaurants options.

Clover Flex is a POS about the size of a large smartphone that will fit in the palm of your or your employees’ hands.

With this handheld device, you’ll be able to run transactions of all kinds, capture customer signatures, scan barcodes, and print receipts, all in one. It costs $449.

Clover Station

Finally, if you’re looking for a POS that offers a desktop hub similar to the experience that the Square Register offers, then consider the Clover Station.

This POS will offer your restaurant everything it needs for transactions to run smoothly. Beyond all of the bells and whistles you’d expect from a countertop POS system—like payment processing, barcode scanning, and receipt printing—the Clover Station offers some features you didn’t even know your restaurant needed.

The Clover Station boasts optimal security, with fingerprint login for secure employee access, along with an option for an extra customer-facing display. All of this won’t come cheap though—the Clover Station costs $1,199.

The Last Word on Square POS for Restaurants

Put simply, Square POS systems are some of the very best options on the market for restaurants. Whether you need to prioritize speed, mobility, or the perfect balance of the two, Square POS for restaurants are all ideal options for addressing your specific needs and preferences.

That said, just like any POS out there, Square POS for restaurants can’t be perfect, and it will be up to you to decide whether or not the perks outweigh the imperfections.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Maddie Shepherd

Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!

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