POS/PAYMENTS

Fast-growing eatery reverses its no-cash policy

BY Marianne Wilson

Sweetgreen has seen the future — and  it’s not as cashless as it once thought.

The fast-casual salad chain — a pioneer of the no-cash policy in restaurants — said it will accept the legal tender in its 94 locations nationwide by the end of the year. The announcement comes a little more than two years after Sweetgreen stopped accepting cash chainwide. It also comes amid a growing backlash against cashless restaurants and stores. Philadelphia and the state of New Jersey have passed laws banning no-cash stores, and New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington are considering similar bills. Amazon Go recently said it will start accepting cash.

Sweetgreen said that while going cashless had positive results, including improving employee safety and speed of service, it also had “the unintended consequence of excluding those who prefer to pay or can only pay with cash.”

“Ultimately, we have realized that while being cashless has advantages, today it is not the right solution to fulfill our mission,” Sweetgreen explained in a Medium blog post. “To accomplish our mission, everyone in the community needs to have access to real food.”

The chain originally announced its decision to go cashless in a blog post at the end of 2016. “By March of 2017, Sweetgreen will no longer accept cash — we’ll accept payment by credit card, debit card or mobile app. Welcome to the future, baby.”

In the same blog, Sweetgreen said it arrived at its decision after testing the policy in select locations.

“At our cashless locations, our team members were able to do 5–15% more transactions an hour, which means guests were in and out several minutes faster in a cashless store than one that accepts cash,” Sweetgreen stated.

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