A restaurant POS system is designed specifically for food-service operations to process payments and manage front and back of house operations. We looked at the most popular and complete options and decided to review Toast, TouchBistro, and Lavu. These systems cover the range for small businesses in terms of price and services offered. Read on for our comparison of these options and our recommendations.
Best Restaurant POS System for Small Business: Toast
We recommend Toast as best restaurant POS system because, even though it’s a little more expensive, the outstanding range of features can ultimately save you money by maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of your restaurant operations. Toast also has an exceptional commitment to customer service.
Best Restaurant POS System Summary Table
|Best For||All restaurant types— from food trucks to fine dining||Best budget option for online ordering||Best budget option for fine dining|
|$79 per month per terminal||$59 per month per terminal||$69 per month per terminal|
|Unique Features||Advanced inventory management with menu costing|
Online ordering & delivery as $50/ month add-on
|Includes online ordering & delivery with base package||Reservations Management|
English & Spanish-language support
|Payment Processing Integration|
|Toast dedicated flat-rate card payment processing||5 including Mercury, BridgePay Payments and Cayan||9 including Square, Moneris and Vantiv|
|Software Integrations||Restaurant 365 and GetLinked||QuickBooks||QuickBooks and Xero|
|24/7 US based phone, email and live chat support||24/7 phone, email and live chat support||24/7 phone, email and live chat support|
Why we Chose Toast as the Best Restaurant POS System for Small Businesses
We recommend Toast as the Best Restaurant POS System for Small Businesses because Toast is suited to all different food-service types and have all of the system features you will need to run the most efficient and effective restaurant operation.
Front of house tasks like taking orders, menu and table management are well thought out and well designed. For example, unlike TouchBistro and Lavu, you get the broadest range of order modifiers to help guide servers. It’s easy to bulk import menu content and you can simply drag and drop tables to create new sections or join tables together.
Back-end tasks like inventory are also better thought out and more useful. For example, unlike Lavu, you get a restaurant inventory management system as an add-on that allows you to run advanced menu engineering, recipe costing and food cost reports. For example, menu engineering allows you to analyze your least profitable menu items and work out how to improve your margin.
Unlike other restaurant POS systems which require you to connect a separate credit processing system, Toast provides their own service. Toast will match lower rates if you can find them and provide simple and transparent pricing so that you always know the exact rate you are going to pay. When it comes to hardware, unlike TouchBistro and Lavu, Toast is Android based, which means restaurant POS system hardware is more affordable.
However, what makes Toast stand-out most from Lavu and TouchBistro as the best restaurant POS system is its team’s dedication to customer service and technical support. From onsite installation to training and ongoing 24/7 technical support, Toast’s customer’s appreciate their dedication to service excellence, which is taken to a whole new level.
The only disadvantage we can find with Toast, is the fact that is costs more. However, as we said earlier, it represents better all round value for money.
When to Use Lavu: The Best Budget POS Option
If you are looking for the most affordable, complete restaurant POS system, then Lavu is a great option. It has all the core features, provides very well regarded customer service, starting at only $59/month/terminal. Lavu becomes even more compelling if you want a restaurant POS system for online ordering and home delivery too. This is because TouchBistro does not have an online package and Toast’s online package costs an additional $50/month.
Keep in mind, while Lavu is a more affordable restaurant POS system, you will notice a lower level of design quality and functionality when compared to Toast— specifically when it comes to delivery management, designing your menu, inventory management and table management. It also outright lacks some features, like reservations management.
When to use TouchBistro: Another Good Budget Option
TouchBistro is another good budget option. It includes some features missing from Lavu, like reservations management, hotel room orders, the ability to combine or move around tables, and Spanish-language support. On the flip-side, there isn’t native online ordering or home delivery.
We also like the fact that TouchBistro integrates with Square payment processing, as well as Vantiv, Moneris, Chase, Paypal and several others. The wider range of options means you can shop around for the best possible credit card processing rates.
Compared to Toast, TouchBistro is fairly light on the back-of-house functions like employee management, and customer management. However, when integrated with some of its partners, TouchBistro provides a more complete solution.
In-Depth Review: Toast vs. Lavu vs. TouchBistro
Now let’s take a closer look at each of the key factors that are likely to influence your decision and see how our three options compare.
Toast (starting from $79/month) is the most expensive restaurant POS system, followed by TouchBistro (starting from $69/month) and finally Lavu (starting from $59/month). However, when you compare features, it’s clear that Toast is the better value, despite the higher price tag.
Ease of Use
We reviewed each of our three restaurant POS systems in terms of how easy they are to set-up, the level of training and support provided during installation and how easy the systems are to use. All three options are easy to use, but Toast stood out due to their dedication to setup, training and support.
Operating System Requirements
All three of our options are internet based with the option of setting-up a local server to ensure that your system can still operate even when there is an internet outage. They all offer a range of additional peripheral hardware, but Lavu insists you purchase hardware from their sister company.
Top of the list of things you will want your restaurant POS system to be able to do will be taking orders efficiently to keep your operation running smoothly and your customers happy. All three options do this well, but have some slight differences:
Setting-up your menu and having the flexibility to apply rules and modifiers is another key feature set for a good food service POS system. Toast has an excellent feature set, TouchBistro and Lavu both have a good solution.
Checking-out & Credit Card Processing
All three of our restaurant POS system options have solutions. Where they differ is that Toast has its own dedicated flat-rate credit card processing system whereas TouchBistro and Lavu provide payment gateway options that allows you to choose your own card payment system.
Now let’s turn to back-office features. Inventory management is crucial to your profitability. All 3 programs provide ingredient-level inventory management, which means you can analyze how much each menu item costs to prepare. Toast has the most advanced reporting, but this comes at the expense of a higher price tag ($50/mo extra for inventory management) whereas Lavu and TouchBistro include inventory management in their base price.
Beyond managing your stock, you also want to manage your staff to understand who is selling the specials, who is voiding the most and who is attracting the most. Toast has the most comprehensive feature-set of our 3 restaurant POS system options, though TouchBistro and Lavu also have a good solution.
Customer Management & Marketing
Very few restaurant POS systems include comprehensive customer management and marketing features. This is another area where Toast excels with advanced customer reports and marketing tools that can put this data to good use.
To increase your profit potential, you may take orders online for collection or home delivery. Toast has a paid option for this, Lavu includes this in their base package and TouchBistro does not have an online feature package at present.
Customer Service and Support
Given your restaurant POS system is a whole new solution at the heart of your business, it’s crucial to know that you will get the setup support, training and ongoing customer support to ensure your restaurant continues to run smoothly. All three options have great customer service, however Toast take it to a whole new level.
All Restaurant POS System Options
We reviewed 30 restaurant POS systems and created a shortlist of 5, which you can review in the table below. All of these options are easy to use, 100 percent designed for food service and well thought of by their customers.
|Toast||Cloud-based POS designed for restaurants||Toast is a cloud-based POS designed for full, quick and online/takeaway restaurants. Pricing starts from $79/month/terminal and 1 10” terminal is included for free.|
|Lavu||Mobile POS designed for restaurants.||Lavu is a mobile POS system designed purely for restaurants that starts from $59/month/terminal.|
|TouchBistro||iPad-based POS designed restaurants||TouchBistro is an iPad-based POS system with a version designed for full-service and a version designed for fast service restaurants. Pricing starts from $69/month/terminal.|
|Sapaad||Cloud-based POS designed for restaurants.||Sapaad is a cloud-based POS designed for full, quick, online takeaway and home delivery restaurants. Pricing starts from $59/month/terminal.|
|Breadcrumb||Cloud-based POS dedicated to Upserve Payment Processing||Breadcrumb is a cloud-based POS designed for full and quick service restaurants plus bars and night clubs too. Pricing starts from $99/month/location.|
The Bottom Line
We recommend Toast as best restaurant POS system because we believe it delivers the best all round value for money. Toast is suited to all different food-services types and has all of the system features you will need to run the most efficient and effective restaurant operation.
However, if you are looking for the most affordable and complete restaurant POS system, then Lavu is a great option with pricing starting at $59/month/terminal. Lavu becomes even more compelling if you want a solution for online ordering and home delivery, as this in included in the base price.
Finally, if you use Square payment processing and you are looking to extend this with a front-of-house restaurant features, TouchBistro is the only option we found that has a full integration with Square. In addition, TouchBistro is the only option that that can provide you with a Spanish language option.