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
Monthly Fee Calculator: Do You Want To Compare Costs?
Use our online calculator to compute the estimated monthly fees of our top-recommended restaurant payroll services.
Gusto: Best Overall Payroll Software for Restaurants
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.
Square Payroll: Best Restaurant Payroll Software for Square POS Integration
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
QuickBooks Payroll: Best for Small Businesses That Hire Contractors
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
Homebase Payroll: Best Restaurant Payroll Solution for Hourly Workers
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
Paychex: Best for Growing Restaurants That Need Expert Payroll Support
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.
SurePayroll: Best for Restaurant Owners Looking for Affordable Full-service Payroll
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.
OnPay: Best for Client Support & Delegating Payroll Tasks
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.
ADP Run: Best for Customizable Payroll Plans That Scale With Growing Businesses
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
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.