8 Best Restaurant Payroll Software for Small Businesses in 2023
This article is part of a larger series on Payroll Services.
The best restaurant payroll software helps process employee salaries accurately and on time while offering tools to manage payroll taxes, monitor attendance, and track tips. It must also be easy to use, have good client support, and handle the complexities of paying restaurant staff efficiently. Pricing is also important, especially for small establishments, so a reasonably priced plan with unlimited payroll runs is ideal.
Here are the best payroll software for small restaurants:
- Gusto: Best overall for small restaurants and those looking for full-service payroll with state tax registration assistance
- Square Payroll: Best for bars and restaurants using Square POS
- QuickBooks Payroll: Best for mom-and-pop shops that hire contractors
- Homebase Payroll: Best restaurant payroll solution for hourly workers
- Paychex: Best for restaurants needing expert payroll support
- SurePayroll: Best affordable full-service payroll
- OnPay: Best for client support and delegating payroll tasks
- ADP Run: Best for scaling with fast-growing restaurant businesses
If you need more information before choosing a provider, check out our easy guide to understanding restaurant payroll. We walk you through everything you’ll need for restaurant payroll, from tips and tipped minimum wage to labor laws.
Best Restaurant Payroll Software Compared
Special Contractor-only Payroll Plan
Tax Filing and Year-end Report Fees
$6 per employee + $40 base fee
$6 per contractor + $35 base fee monthly
Included in higher tiers
$6 per employee + $35 base fee
$6 per contractor monthly
$5 per employee + $45 base fee
$15 monthly for 20 contractors; plus $2 per additional worker
(local tax filings are included in higher tiers)
Included in higher tiers
$6 per employee + $39 base fee*
$5 per employee + $39 base fee
(Call Paychex for quote)
(Call Paychex for quote)
$5 per employee + $29.99 base fee**
$9.99 for local tax filings in OH/PA
Via third-party integration (costs extra)
$6 per employee + $40 base fee
Via third-party integration
$2.50 per employee, per weekly payroll + $49 base fee***
Year-end reports cost extra
(Call ADP for quote)
*Requires purchase of Homebase’s main time tracking and scheduling platform, which has a free plan for one-location businesses (with up to 20 employees).
**Pricing is for the Full Service package with tax filing services. SurePayroll also offers a No Tax Filing plan that costs $19.99 plus $4 per employee monthly.
***Fees are based on a quote we received.
All of the restaurant payroll services we reviewed offer new hire onboarding, tip payment processing, tax filing services, year-end tax reports, and full-service payroll for employees and contractors. Here are some of each provider’s standout features.
Standard Direct Deposit Timelines
Health Benefits Available in 50 States
Point-of-Sale (POS) Integration
Included in higher tiers
Two and four days
Four days; instantly with Square Payment
Seamless integration with Square POS
HI, VT, and DC not covered
Two days for qualified companies
Two days for qualified companies
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Use our online calculator to compute the estimated monthly fees of our top-recommended restaurant payroll services.
Gusto: Best Overall Payroll Software for Restaurants
- Unlimited and automated pay runs with electronic tax payments, filings, and year-end reports
- Automatic salary adjustments in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Tip Credit minimum wage requirement
- Offers two-, four-, and next-day direct deposits
- Reasonably priced plans with a contractor-only payroll option
- New hire reporting for contractors and state payroll tax registration assistance if you’re setting up a new business in another state
- Limited premade reports
- Insurance is available only in 37 states
- Next-day direct deposits, time tracking, hiring, and HR advisory services only included in higher tiers
- State payroll tax registration services cost extra
Gusto Payroll Pricing
- Simple: $40 per month + $6 per employee monthly:
- Includes full-service payroll, tax filings, payroll tax filings, single state pay processing, two- and four-day direct deposits, employee benefits, new hire reporting, offer letter templates, onboarding, and basic support
- Plus: $80 per month + $12 per employee monthly:
- Simple + next-day direct deposits, time and paid time off (PTO) tracking, applicant tracking, basic job postings, project tracking, and full support with extended support hours
- Premium: Custom-priced
- Plus + performance reviews, surveys, full-service payroll migration, access to HR experts, direct line to priority phone and email support, and a dedicated account manager
- Contractor-only plan: $35 per month + $6 per contractor monthly
- Full-service payroll, four-day direct deposits, and state new hire reporting
- State payroll tax registration: Pricing varies per state
- HR advisory services for Plus plan only: $8 per employee monthly (this is included for free in the Premium tier)
Gusto has all of the essential features you need to pay restaurant staff, calculate and file payroll taxes (federal, state, and local), track attendance, manage benefits, and onboard employees. It can generate and file W-2 and 1099 forms automatically. Its full-service payroll covers all 50 US states and includes tip reporting, direct deposits, and flexible payroll capabilities, such as multistate payroll processing and multiple pay options, rates, and schedules.
The platform also allows you to enter cash tips that staff receive during work hours to ensure they’re taxed properly. This can be a huge time-saver and avoids manually doing these calculations.
Since Our Last Update:
Gusto is no longer offering a Cashout program, which enabled employees to access a portion of their earned salaries between paydays. In addition, Gusto has increased the pricing of its contractor-only payroll plan—from $6 per worker monthly to $35 plus $6 per contractor monthly. As part of a new promo, new clients that sign up for this plan will get discounted pricing of only $6 per contractor monthly (no base fee) for the first six months. After this period, you will be charged the regular monthly fee.
In our evaluation, Gusto earned an overall score of 4.64 out of 5. It received perfect marks in nearly all criteria, including pricing, given its transparent fees, multiple plan options, unlimited pay runs, and a reasonably priced starter plan. However, Gusto’s pricing isn’t as affordable as Square Payroll, SurePayroll, and Homebase Payroll. It also has limited health insurance coverage, and while its interface is intuitive, it isn’t all customizable.
- Efficient time tracking and workforce management tools: Aside from monitoring your employees’ and contractors’ time through its system or via the Gusto Wallet, Gusto offers project tracking and workforce costing tools. You can create custom PTO policies and send/approve time-off requests online.
- Multiple pay options: With Gusto, employees are paid through manual checks, pay cards, or direct deposits. The standard direct deposit timelines are two and four days, but subscribing to Gusto’s higher tiers gets you a next-day option.
- Comprehensive employee benefits options: With Gusto, you are granted access to both standard and nonstandard benefits choices, such as retirement, medical, dental, and college savings plans. The only drawback is the limited coverage of its health insurance options, as it doesn’t cover 13 states: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
- Solid HR solutions and services: Gusto helps you avoid expensive compliance mistakes through its team of HR and tax experts that you can contact for help whenever you need them—provided you get its Premium option. Hiring is also easy with Gusto’s job postings, applicant tracking, and onboarding solutions.
Gusto may have next-day direct deposits, but this is available only in its higher tiers. For fast processing timelines that don’t require plan upgrades, we recommend QuickBooks Payroll, as its starter Simple plan comes with next-day direct deposits (same-day for premium plans). Square Payroll also offers instant payouts through its Square Payments solution.
If offering benefits is important to you, and your business is located in one of the 13 states where Gusto’s health insurance isn’t available, consider any of the providers in this guide—except Homebase Payroll, which doesn’t have benefits plans, and QuickBooks Payroll, which excludes Hawaii, Vermont, and the District of Columbia from its health insurance coverage.
Square Payroll: Best Restaurant Payroll Software for Square POS Integration
- Reasonably priced full-service payroll with unlimited pay runs
- Integrates with Square POS and comes with free time tracking
- Prepares and files year-end reports
- Can import credit card tips from POS and do tip pooling and splitting
- Direct deposit has a four-day processing period
- Instant payments require a Square Payments account
- Option to create new reports from scratch is unavailable
Square Payroll Pricing
- Pay employees and contractors: $35 + $6 per employee monthly:
- Includes unlimited pay runs, payroll tax filings, year-end tax reports, and access to employee benefits
- Pay contractors only: $6 per contractor monthly
If you’re using Square POS and wondering how to do payroll for your restaurant staff, you may want to consider Square Payroll. It has a low-cost full-payroll service, which includes unlimited pay runs, automatic payroll tax calculations, tax filings and payments, and multiple pay options, such as direct deposit, check, and through Square’s mobile payment service, Cash App.
Similar to Homebase Payroll and Paychex, Square Payroll has an “On-Demand Pay” functionality that lets your staff access a portion of their salaries before payday. The maximum amount that employees can get is 50% of their earned wages, and they can transfer the funds to their Cash App account—up to $200 per transfer. However, this feature is not available in New York and New Jersey as of this writing.
Since Our Last Update:
Square Payroll has increased its per-employee fees, from $5 to $6 per month.
Score-wise, we gave Square Payroll an overall rating of 4.60 out of 5. The software’s standout features, based on our evaluation criteria, are its affordable flat-rate pricing and robust payroll functionalities that include tip management and reporting. You can import credit card tips from the Square POS and let its “pool and split tips” functionality divide the amount among employees based on the number of hours worked in a pay period.
In addition, you get better value for money if you use Square POS in your restaurant since this software directly integrates with it. Plus, you get access to Square’s timecard integration for free—allowing you to track employee attendance seamlessly and easily.
However, Square’s payroll and customer support are less than ideal for restaurants as you can only contact its team of specialists through phone and email on weekdays, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. In addition, if you’re not yet a Square client, then speaking to a customer representative may be difficult because of the occasional long wait times.
Square Payroll Overview
- Square POS integration: Square Payroll seamlessly integrates with Square POS, making it easy for you to track and import employee time cards, including tips and commissions data for pay processing.
- Online tax filing and reporting: Square Payroll will file your quarterly and annual taxes automatically as well as prepare and file your W-2s or 1099s, whether workers are paid an hourly, salary, or custom amount. This is unlike Paychex and ADP, which charge fees for some of their payroll tax services. QuickBooks Payroll may not have add-on fees to file taxes for you, but you have to get its highest tier if you want automated local tax filings.
- Instant payments: While its standard direct deposit processing timeline is four days, if you accept payments via Square and have a Square balance, then you can activate its “Instant Payments” feature. This allows you to pay employees instantly, provided you have sufficient funds in your Square account.
If you aren’t a Square user but still want fast payments, try QuickBooks Payroll. It offers next-day direct deposits and even a same-day option, provided you get its higher tiers. Gusto, Paychex, and ADP are also good alternatives if you’re looking for full-service payroll with a wide suite of HR solutions to manage the entire employee lifecycle.
QuickBooks Payroll: Best for Small Businesses That Hire Contractors
- Reasonably priced plans with unlimited and automated pay runs
- Seamless integration with QuickBooks Accounting
- Same- and next-day direct deposits
- Accepts cash/credit card tips and withholds applicable taxes
- Low-cost contractor payments plan
- Limited integration options (of non-Intuit products); requires a QuickBooks Accounting account to unlock full integrations
- Local tax filings available only in higher tiers
- Health insurance doesn’t cover all states (unavailable in HI, VT, and DC)
- Inconsistent customer support quality
- 24/7 product support and HR advisory services are included only in the Elite plan
QuickBooks Payroll Pricing
- Core: $45 per month + $5 per employee monthly:
- Includes full-service payroll, next-day direct deposit, federal and state tax filings and payments, and access to 401(k) plans and benefits
- Premium: $75 per month + $8 per employee monthly:
- Core plus same-day direct deposit; federal, state and local tax payments and filings; workers’ compensation administration; and HR support center
- Elite: $125 per month + $10 per employee monthly:
- Premium plus multiple state tax filing, project tracking, personal HR adviser, tax penalty protection up to $25,000 per year, and expert setup
- Contractor payments package: $15 monthly for 20 workers; plus $2 for each additional contractor
- Includes next-day direct deposits, 1099 efilings, and a contractor self-setup tool
QuickBooks Payroll is one of the reasonably priced solutions on our list, with monthly fees that start at $45 plus $5 per employee. Much like Gusto, it offers unlimited pay runs and automated payroll tax filing and forms. It also has one of the fastest direct deposit timelines—processing within 24 hours. This is unlike similar payroll software providers that typically offer two- to four-day processing. Plus, its contractor payments package is cheaper than plans from Square Payroll and Gusto, making QuickBooks Payroll a great option for small contractor-only businesses.
The platform allows you to enter cash and credit card tips into its system, enabling it to withhold the applicable taxes. For cash tips, it will calculate the taxes but not include the tip in the employees’ actual pay, since they already received the money as cash. It even has a “paycheck tips” functionality that allows you to add tips that customers charge to credit cards to your employee payroll.
Since Our Last Update:
QuickBooks has released a Contractor Payments package that’s optimal for businesses with only contract workers. For $15 per month, you can process payments for up to 20 workers (plus $2 for each additional contractor), e-file 1099 forms, and pay contractors via next-day direct deposits.
Based on our criteria, it received an overall score of 3.96 out of 5. Its fast unlimited pay runs, automated payroll tax calculations, year-end filings, and customizable reports also earned QuickBooks Payroll high marks for payment features and reporting tools. In addition, it has restaurant-specific functionalities that allow you to track time and manage tips. It scored the lowest in user popularity primarily because this software has fewer than 1,000 average reviews on G2 and Capterra.
QuickBooks Payroll Overview
- Fast direct deposits: Apart from next-day direct deposits, you can pay employees through same-day direct deposit at no extra cost, provided you subscribe to QuickBooks Payroll’s higher tiers. Note that most of the providers on this list have a standard two-day processing time—although Square Payroll offers instant payments if you activate its “Instant Payments” feature and have funds in your Square account.
- Tax penalty protection: QuickBooks will cover the penalty and interest for any payroll tax error for up to $25,000 a year—regardless of who made the mistake. Note that you must purchase its Elite plan to have your errors covered. Experts will also represent you before the IRS and concerned agencies and will assist you in resolving the problem. No other providers on our list will offer to cover tax mistakes you make under any circumstance.
- Seamless integration with QuickBooks Accounting: For businesses already using QuickBooks Online for their accounting needs, the direct integration between platforms makes QuickBooks Payroll a great option. With the click of a button, all payroll information can be directly synced to your accounting system, making payroll and tax costs so much easier to track.
Unlike the other restaurant payroll software we reviewed, you have to upgrade to either the Premium or Elite plan if you want QuickBooks Payroll to handle your local tax filings. Its HR tools are also basic, and its health plans are unavailable in Hawaii, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. For employee benefits that cover all 50 states, consider any of the providers in this guide (except Gusto and Homebase Payroll).
Plus, if you already have an accounting system and don’t plan to switch to QuickBooks, you’ll find more reasonably priced options for paying employees with SurePayroll, Square Payroll, and Homebase Payroll.
Homebase Payroll: Best Restaurant Payroll Solution for Hourly Workers
- Flat pricing with reasonable monthly fees
- Payroll plan includes time tracking, scheduling, job postings, and applicant tracking tools
- Unlimited pay runs with automated payroll tax payments and filings
- Lacks health insurance options
- PTO tracking, onboarding, and access to HR advisers not included; you have to upgrade to its core platform’s paid plans
- Its payroll module is a paid add-on to its main scheduling/time tracking platform (although it has a free plan)
Homebase Payroll Pricing*
- $39 per month + $6 per employee, per month:
- Includes unlimited pay runs, payroll tax filings, year-end tax reports, new hire reporting, and access to basic hiring, scheduling, and time tracking tools
*Requires subscription to its main time tracking and scheduling platform, which has a free plan for one-location businesses (with up to 20 employees).
Homebase has added a payroll module to its suite of time tracking and scheduling solutions. Similar to Square Payroll, Homebase Payroll offers flat pricing for its easy-to-use pay processing solution, which includes automated payroll tax payment and filing services. The platform is designed specifically for hourly teams, as it comes with essential scheduling and time tracking tools to help you manage your hourly workforce more efficiently. It offers job postings, applicant tracking, PTO management, new hire onboarding, and time clock apps.
Homebase Payroll earned an overall score of 3.85 out of 5 in our evaluation. Its reasonably priced plan with flat pricing and robust HR tools contributed to its high scores (4 and up) in several criteria, but the lack of online third-party Homebase Payroll reviews resulted in it getting a zero rating in our popularity criterion.
Homebase Payroll Overview
- Robust payroll plan: Homebase Payroll is the only payroll system for small businesses that we reviewed that’s affordably priced and comes with several HR features. For only $39 plus $6 per employee monthly, you get hiring, onboarding, time tracking, and scheduling tools in addition to full-service payroll and automatic tax filing services. While Square Payroll’s pricing is slightly lower ($35 plus $5 per employee monthly), it doesn’t have Homebase’s robust scheduling tools. ADP and Paychex may offer similar functionalities, but you either have to pay extra or subscribe to its higher tiers to get these solutions.
- Early access to wages: Similar to Gusto and Square Payroll, Homebase Payroll offers an employee perk that grants your staff early access to wages. Your workers can transfer a portion of their salary to their bank account before payday to help pay for emergency expenses.
While Homebase Payroll is generally easy to use, it isn’t as simple to set up as most of the payroll software in this guide. It also only offers its two-day direct deposits to qualified companies. If you don’t qualify, your direct deposit processing timeline will be four days. We recommend QuickBooks Payroll for fast payments that aren’t restricted to certain companies. If you prefer check payments, both ADP Run and Paychex can help you prepare employee paychecks.
Paychex: Best for Growing Restaurants That Need Expert Payroll Support
- User-friendly and intuitive interface
- Multiple pay options, such as direct deposits, paper checks, pay cards, and pay-on-demand
- Customizable plans; 24/7 customer support included in all tiers
- Automatic calculations of tip pooling and sharing amounts
- Not all pricing details are transparent
- Automatic W-2 and 1099 tax forms cost extra
- Access to a dedicated payroll specialist is available only in higher tiers
- Time tracking is a paid add-on
Paychex Flex Pricing
- Paychex Flex Essentials: $39 per month + $5 per employee:
- Includes full-service payroll, tax filing services, direct deposits, new hire reporting, garnishment payments, and a financial wellness program
- Paychex Flex Select: Custom-priced:
- Essentials + check logo and signing services, learning management, and access to a dedicated payroll specialist
- Paychex Flex Pro: Custom-priced:
- Select + onboarding, background checks, state unemployment insurance (SUI) services, and an employee handbook builder
Paychex earned an overall rating of 3.84 out of 5 in our evaluation. It received high scores for payroll and HR features, primarily because it offers a suite of solutions for processing employee pay, managing payroll taxes, reporting tips, tracking attendance, onboarding new hires, and conducting background checks. Its platform even has employee performance and learning management tools.
Since Our Last Update:
The provider has released its “Paychex Voice Assist” feature, which offers a hands-off experience in processing, reviewing, updating, and submitting payroll. This voice-activated tool, which works on any Google Assistant-compatible device, comes with built-in verification and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for user authentication. You can start a new pay period, make adjustments, or continue a pay run that’s already in progress—without having to manually log in to your Paychex Flex account.
With Paychex Flex Select and Paychex Flex Pro, business owners get access to dedicated support representatives that can help with anything they may need throughout the payroll process. This is a huge plus for business owners that want a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach to payroll but need the support of experts to feel confident.
You also get multiple pay options that enable you to process direct deposits, paper checks, and pay cards. Moreover, what sets it apart from other payroll providers is its pay-on-demand feature, providing your employees the option to access their earned pay―up to $500―before payday. It’s also available across the US, unlike Square Payroll, which does not currently offer this option in all 50 states.
- Flexible plan options: Paychex offers flexible HR and payroll packages that target businesses of all sizes. Its Paychex Solo plan is ideal for solopreneurs and the self-employed. Aside from running payroll, Paychex can help them set up their business as an employer and select a retirement plan. None of the other providers in this guide have this type of plan. If you ever go through a growth period in which you need an HR expert but aren’t ready to hire, Paychex has a professional employer organization (PEO) service to help you manage essential day-to-day HR processes.
- HR tools: Paychex Flex’s higher tiers not only come with payroll tools but several HR solutions as well. In addition to a library of HR documents and an online employee handbook builder, you are granted access to a learning management module to help you run e-training courses for your staff. Screening applicants and welcoming new hires will also be easy with its background checks and online onboarding solutions.
- Dedicated payroll support: Paychex is the only restaurant payroll software provider we reviewed that assigns a dedicated payroll specialist to its clients. This is great if your in-house HR staff isn’t knowledgeable in handling pay processing and payroll tax filings.
Paychex’s HR payroll platform may be too feature-rich for those only needing pay processing tools. If you don’t require learning management solutions and an employee handbook builder, try SurePayroll. Restaurants with small teams can benefit from its Full Service plan with tax filing support. And in case you only have up to 10 employees and prefer to file tax forms yourself (or have an in-house HR staff who can handle this), SurePayroll has a low-cost “No Tax Filing” option.
SurePayroll: Best for Restaurant Owners Looking for Affordable Full-service Payroll
- Unlimited and automatic pay runs
- Offers affordable full-service payroll and DIY tax filing plans
- Minimum wage notifications and tip sign-off reports
- Charges add-on fees for Ohio and Pennsylvania local tax filings
- Accounting and time tracking integrations cost extra
- Doesn’t integrate with POS systems
- Full-Service plan: $29.99 + $5 per employee monthly:
- Includes unlimited pay runs, payroll tax filings, year-end tax reporting, two-day direct deposits, online pay stubs, and new hire reporting
- No Tax Filing plan: $19.99 + $4 per employee monthly:
- Includes unlimited pay runs, four-day direct deposits, online pay stubs, and new hire reporting
- Ohio and/or Pennsylvania local tax filing services: $9.99 per month
- Multiple state filings: $9.99 per month
- Time clock integration: $9.99 per month
- Accounting integration: $4.99 per month
SurePayroll is the most affordable restaurant payroll solution on our list. Its full-service plan, which includes unlimited pay runs and payroll tax filings—costs $29.99 plus $5 per employee monthly. For those looking for an even more cost-effective solution, the provider also has a cheaper “No Tax Filing” option that allows you to also run unlimited payrolls, but you have to handle tax filing yourself.
Aside from unlimited pay runs, SurePayroll can help you manage restaurant-specific taxes and payments. It has Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) tip credit reports for tracking and calculating how much you claim on annual business taxes. It even offers tip sign-off reports, which can serve as written proof that your workers’ tips have been declared and received.
In our evaluation, SurePayroll earned an overall score of 3.81 out of 5. The software earned high scores (4 and up) for pricing, HR tools, and reporting capabilities. It would have ranked higher on our list if it had pay-on-demand and built-in time tracking functionalities. Its low popularity scores—primarily because of having less than 1,000 user reviews in G2 and Capterra—also pulled its overall rating down.
- Unlimited and automatic payroll runs: With SurePayroll, you can process employee payments as many times as you need—unlike ADP, which charges fees for every pay run. You can even set it to process payroll automatically. This is a helpful option for those who don’t expect any changes to their pay runs. It even handles payroll tax payments, quarterly filings, and year-end tax reporting for you—provided you subscribe to its Full-Service plan.
- Multiple employee payment options: SurePayroll pays your hourly and salaried employees via direct deposits. If you prefer paychecks, it has check printing capabilities, although you print the checks yourself. For stress-free paycheck processing, we recommend ADP Run, as it offers check signing, stuffing, and delivery services.
- Customer support: You can contact SurePayroll’s support team easily through chat, phone, or fax. The provider’s customer service runs six days a week, Mondays through Saturdays, with extended weekday evening and weekend hours. Apart from ADP Run and Paychex, which provides 24/7 support across all of its plans, none of the software we reviewed offers live phone support on weekends.
SurePayroll doesn’t integrate with POS systems. If you’re a Square POS user, consider Square Payroll; but if you’re a non-Square user, the other payroll software in this guide can connect with POS solutions (except OnPay).
Square Payroll, Gusto, ADP Run, OnPay, and Paychex, are good options if you’re looking for multiple payment options—from direct deposits to manual checks. For stress-free paycheck processing, we recommend ADP Run, as it offers check signing, stuffing, and delivery services.
OnPay: Best for Client Support & Delegating Payroll Tasks
- Flat pricing with reasonably priced monthly fees
- Unlimited pay runs with payroll tax filing services
- Prepares Form 8846 and helps calculate tips
- Six levels of system permissions for delegating payroll tasks
- Eligibility for two- or four-day direct deposits is based on OnPay’s risk assessment
- Limited third-party software integrations; doesn’t integrate with POS systems
- Charges extra for W-2/1099 form printing and mailing services (online forms are free)
- $40 + $6 per employee monthly
- Includes payroll processing, multiple payment options, payroll tax management, onboarding and new hire reporting, PTO management, employee benefits, self-service portal, reporting tools, and third-party integrations
Similar to Homebase Payroll and Square Payroll, OnPay offers flat pricing for its payroll and basic HR solutions. It offers one of the reasonably priced payroll plans in this guide, with monthly fees costing $40 plus $6 per employee. It provides health benefits with coverage that extends to all US states—Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll’s plans are limited to 37 and 48 states, respectively.
For those with in-house HR staff familiar with running payroll, OnPay allows you to delegate pay processing tasks and control payroll access through its six-level system permissions. None of the restaurant payroll services in this guide have system permissions that are as robust as OnPay’s. New clients even get setup and data migration support, including customization assistance for third-party software integrations.
What’s also great about this software is its restaurant-specific services that include automatic tip calculations and Form 8846 filings. If you’re a new restaurateur, it can even help you set up minimum wage tip calculations. However, don’t expect to integrate your POS with this software—its partner systems only include QuickBooks, Xero, QuickBooks Time, Deputy, When I Work, Mineral, and PosterElite as of this writing.
In our evaluation, OnPay earned an overall rating of 3.81 out of 5, with high scores (4 and up) in most of our criteria. It didn’t rank higher on our list because of its limited number of user reviews in G2 and Capterra (fewer than 1,000) and the lack of POS integrations.
- Unlimited payroll runs: Like the other restaurant payroll software we reviewed, OnPay lets you run payroll for both employees and contractors as many times as you need and want without having to pay extra. You can also generate year-end W-2s and 1099s without paying a per-employee rate (Paychex and ADP Run charge extra for this).
- Multiple employee payment options: With OnPay, employees can get their wages through direct deposits, debit cards, and paychecks. While it offers both two- and four-day direct deposit options, you have to undergo OnPay’s risk assessment to determine the processing timeline that will apply to you.
- Essential HR tools: Streamline onboarding processes with OnPay’s in-app offer letters, online I-9 and W-4 forms, e-signature tool, and automated onboarding workflows. It handles state new hire reporting, plus you can create custom checklists to ensure that incoming employees complete all the new hire requirements. If you need HR guides and legal templates, OnPay has an online HR resource library that you can access.
- Employee benefits: Unlike Gusto and QuickBooks Payroll’s limited health insurance coverage (only 37 and 48 states, respectively, as of this writing), OnPay’s health plans are available in all US states. Your employees are also granted access to dental, vision, disability, and retirement plans. Further, OnPay can easily generate employee census data reports that you can use when requesting insurance quotes from carriers and benefits providers.
If you want to provide employees early access to earned wages, OnPay lacks the pay-on-demand feature that Square Payroll, Paychex, and ADP Run offer. Similar to Homebase Payroll, two-day direct deposits are only for qualified businesses. We recommend QuickBooks Payroll if you want fast direct deposits—its standard processing timeline is a next-day option. Square Payroll and its instant payments feature is also a good option.
However, if you want hiring tools, consider Homebase Payroll. It provides recruiting and applicant tracking solutions for free. You even get staff scheduling and time tracking tools—provided you’re a one-location business.
ADP Run: Best for Customizable Payroll Plans That Scale With Growing Businesses
- Flexible plans
- Feature-rich with strong HR tools; includes tax payment and filing services
- 24/7 customer support
- Provides FICA tip reports
- Pricing for full-service payroll isn’t transparent
- Year-end tax reporting costs extra
- Time tracking, health insurance, and workers’ compensation are paid add-ons
ADP Run Pricing
- Essential*: $49 base monthly fee + $2.50 per employee, per weekly pay run
- Includes full-service payroll, tax filings and year-end tax reports, new hire reporting, and onboarding tools
- Enhanced: Custom-priced:
- Essential plus check signing and stuffing services, SUI management, ZipRecruiter job postings, and background checks
- Complete: Custom-priced:
- Enhanced plus access to HR forms, an employee handbook wizard, and a dedicated HR support team
- HR Pro: Custom-priced:
- Complete plus online training programs, employee handbook creation assistance, and HR advisory services
*Pricing is based on a quote we received for 25 employees.
ADP Run is ADP’s web-based payroll solution that’s ideal for growing businesses. With many different plan options available, ADP can cater its platform and offerings to best fit the current needs of your business as it grows and evolves. It has all of the essential features you need to process employee wages, manage payroll taxes, onboard new staff, and complete federal and state new hire reporting.
For restaurateurs, the software also has a time and attendance management module that includes basic tip reporting tools. You can use ADP Run to process credit card tips, enter cash tip amounts, and withhold the applicable taxes. Plus, it can provide FICA tip reports.
In our evaluation, ADP Run scored 3.76 out of 5. Its feature-rich platform and analytics are just some of the factors that earned this software high ratings (4 and up) for HR, payroll, and reporting tools. While there are not a ton of restaurant-specific features available for use, unlike Gusto and Square, ADP Run offers strong reporting features and timekeeping, which—while not specific to the industry—are equally important for all restaurants to function properly.
ADP Run Overview
- Efficient payroll and tax filing services: In addition to its solid payroll tools, ADP Run offers automated payroll tax payments and filings. It also has built-in compliance tools that notify you of payroll errors.
- Multiple employee payment options: With ADP Run, you can pay your employees via direct deposit and paychecks and through the Wisely Direct Debit Card. It also offers secure paychecks with check signing and stuffing services. ADP will even deliver the sealed envelopes containing employee paychecks to your office so you can distribute these to your staff.
- Employee benefits: While its retirement, health insurance, and workers’ compensation plans are paid add-ons, ADP Run’s starter Essential plan comes with employee discounts. Its partnership with brand-name products and local retailers allows it to provide special pricing and discounted rates, which you can offer as a perk to your workers. None of the providers in this guide have this type of benefit.
- Flexible plan options: In addition to ADP Run’s multiple tiers with full-service payroll and access to essential HR tools, ADP has a wide range of products that can cater to growing businesses. It offers a PEO option, ADP TotalSource, for companies that need to outsource their payroll and HR administration completely.
Before you decide on getting ADP Run, note that it is the most expensive payroll solution on our list. Based on the quote we received, you have to shell out $2.50 per employee, per weekly pay run, plus $49 monthly. If you have a limited budget, consider either OnPay, SurePayroll, Square Payroll, or Homebase Payroll, as all these offer reasonably priced plans and unlimited pay runs.
While ADP handles year-end reporting—W-2s and 1099s—it charges extra for this. If you want full-service payroll without paying add-on tax filing fees, we recommend the other restaurant payroll software in this guide, except for Paychex, which also charges extra for year-end filings.
Are you looking for more payroll options?
Check out our guide to the best online payroll services for small businesses to help you find the right pay processing solution for you.
How We Evaluated Payroll Software for Restaurants
We compared 14 reputable payroll providers that, apart from processing employee payroll, offer attendance management and restaurant-specific solutions, such as time tracking and tip reporting. We rated each on a five-star scale designed to assess restaurant payroll services, narrowing our list to the top eight.
You can click through the tabs in the box below to see our full evaluation criteria.
20% of Overall Score
We looked at the monthly implementation costs, processing costs, setup, and year-end fees. Payroll providers that offer a plan that’s priced at less than $50 for one employee are rated more favorably since they’re budget-friendly. We also considered whether each provider has transparent pricing, multiple plan options, and unlimited pay runs. Additional points were also given to those that don’t charge setup fees.
15% of Overall Score
Time tracking features, tipped minimum wage features, tip reporting features, POS integration options. These are features that are incredibly important for restaurant owners and can play a huge role in finding the payroll provider that is right for them.
15% of Overall Score
Automatic payroll runs, payroll tax filing, 1099 form preparation, manual check capabilities, and two-day direct deposits are just some of the features that we consider essential payroll services. Providers also get a point if they offer attendance monitoring and restaurant-specific solutions, such as tracking employee time-ins and outs plus managing tips.
15% of Overall Score
In this criterion, we use our expert opinion to assess whether the software’s ease of use, and the width and depth of its payroll and HR tools are ideal for small business owners.
15% of Overall Score
Aside from having a user-friendly and intuitive platform, payroll software that integrates with common POS and third-party systems like QuickBooks and Homebase are awarded extra points. Given that restaurants operate on weekends, we also prioritized providers that offer live phone support and a dedicated representative.
10% of Overall Score
Having access to a professional who can provide expert advice on compliance issues is one of the top criteria, including new hire state reporting and online onboarding. Following closely behind these is the capability to provide employee benefits plans and a self-service portal that allows your staff to view payslips and access tax forms online.
5% of Overall Score
We considered user reviews, including those of our competitors, based on a 5-star scale; any option with an average of 4-plus stars is ideal. Also, any software with 1,000-plus reviews on any third-party site is preferred.
5% of Overall Score
We find that restaurants benefit more from having customizable reporting tools, as it enables them to easily create their own reports. Hence, providers that offer the said functionality get extra points. Additionally, those that have a selection of basic payroll reports are prioritized.
When looking for software that processes employee salaries and taxes, it’s important to consider whether it has industry-specific payroll features that fit your business’s requirements. For restaurants, you need a solution that offers payroll and tax processing, time tracking, HR support, and tip reporting functionalities to help restaurateurs maintain compliance. Platforms should also be affordable if you’re running small restaurants.
For these reasons, we chose Gusto as the best restaurant payroll software. It provides the greatest balance among features and offers a variety of tools that address the needs of restaurants. It also has an intuitive platform and a full-service payroll option that’s budget-friendly. Sign up for a payroll plan today.