Square for Restaurants is a cloud-based restaurant management software that runs on iPads with built-in tools for full-service, delivery, and counter service restaurants. Square for Restaurants is competitively priced and helps streamline front of house operations, managing employees, and processing payments, making it a good choice for many small to medium-sized businesses.
Square for Restaurants has a free 30-day trial and starts at $60 per month following the end of the trial period. However, businesses can also elect to add-on extra features like payroll processing, marketing, and loyalty programs for an additional fee.
How Square for Restaurants Works
Square for Restaurants is a hardware, software, and payment processing system that aids with critical aspects of restaurant management including taking orders, overseeing tables, setting menus, managing employees, tracking inventory, and sales reporting. This cloud-based platform runs on iPads with features to help servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff provide accurate and speedy service while also letting restaurant managers track business performance metrics.
Square for Restaurants’ critical functions include:
- Front of house operations: Table mapping, seating, quick order entry, coursing, and timed dish firing
- Back of house operations: 86ing (menu item no longer available) and menu management
- Customer relationship management: Customer directories, tabs, saved payment methods and order histories
- Employee management: Individual employee logins, timecards, different permission levels and the ability to assign orders and tables to specific employees
- Payments: PCI compliance, offline payments, comps, and discounts, check splitting, check reprinting and refunds
- Reporting: Daily sales reports, labor costing, modifies sales, comps, and void reports, sales by product and category, employee sales reports, and ability to create custom reports
How to Set Up Square for Restaurants for Your Business
Square for Restaurants is easy to set up. To get started, sign up on the Square website. All you need to start taking orders is an iPad and a Square card reader. Swipe card readers are provided for free when you sign up with Square.
After signing up on the Square website, follow these steps to set up Square for Restaurants.
1. Download the Software
To get started, sign up on the Square website and download the software, then all you need to start taking orders is an iPad and Square card reader. Square for Restaurants has a Support Center with a setup guide, walkthrough videos, and articles to help you get started. There is also a free 30-day trial, so business owners can test the software for themselves before committing.
2. Purchase Additional Hardware
After testing the software for yourself, purchase any additional hardware that you may need. The minimum hardware requirement is an iPad and card reader. However, if you accept cash payments, you will need a cash register. Square also offers three different restaurant-specific hardware kits that include an iPad, iPad stand, cash drawer, and two receipt printers.
3. Customize Square for Your Business
After setting up hardware and downloading the Square for Restaurant software, you can customize the software for your specific restaurant. The software gives you the ability to create menus, which can be separated by different parts of the day, and you can create as many menus as you need, including pricing variations.
You can also create employee accounts so that each of your employees has their own login. You can set different permission levels for each person and track their time cards for payroll directly through Square. This also gives you the ability to switch checks between servers and view sales reports based on each employee.
Square for Restaurants offers sit-down restaurants the ability to enter seating arrangements, which can be updated at any time. This feature helps servers can track each table accurately in real-time. The ordering process can also be configured in whatever way makes the most sense for your business so that servers can enter items and modifiers quickly.
4. Set Up Payment Processing
Square for Restaurants uses the built-in Square payment processing system. With Square for Restaurants, businesses pay 2.6 percent plus 10 cents for each transaction. Square’s payment processing is payment card industry (PCI)-compliant, includes up to $250 per month for dispute management, accepts offline payments, offers next-day deposits, and comes with a free magstripe reader.
You can purchase a chip reader separately or purchase the Square for Restaurants dedicated hardware kit which includes the chip reader. You can also purchase a one-on-one implementation service where a Square expert will come to your restaurant and set up the software customized to your business and train your staff on how to use the software. One-on-one setup starts at $600.
Who Square for Restaurants Is Right For
Square for Restaurants is designed for full-service restaurants that need multiple menus and individual item customization. It also offers menu coursing, table mapping, and tracking. Square for Restaurants is a good option for full-service restaurants, casual restaurants, restaurants with multiple locations and even fast casual or counter service restaurants that cook food as it is ordered.
However, because Square for Restaurants is designed to manage larger operations, the original Square POS would be a better fit for coffee shops, bakeries, and food trucks. If you operate a cafe or similar business, read our guide on Best Cafe POS Systems to learn which program would fit your business.
Square for Restaurants is a good fit for:
- Full-service restaurants: Square for Restaurants is a good fit for full-service restaurants because it has table-tracking features for servers and lots of customization options for orders including coursing out meals and adding multiple modifiers
- Fast-casual restaurants: Square for Restaurants is a good option for quick-service restaurants because it has a conversational ordering feature that makes it easy to take orders very quickly, even with a lot of modifiers
- Restaurants with delivery: Square for Restaurants is a good fit for restaurants with delivery because it integrates directly with Caviar, Square’s order pickup and delivery management software
- Restaurants with multiple locations: Square for Restaurants is a good fit for restaurant owners with multiple locations because you can manage all of your menus, employees, and reporting from one software dashboard
Overall, Square for Restaurants is a great option for many types of restaurants because it has built-in features to accommodate full-service restaurants, counter service, delivery orders, and restaurants with multiple locations.
Square for Restaurant Costs
Square for Restaurants starts at $60 per month for one point-of-sale (POS). Additional POS terminals are an additional $40 per month each. Other comparable restaurant management solutions start around $70 per month, so Square for Restaurants is priced competitively. Its hardware kits cost around $1,400 with an iPad included. Payment processing fees are around average at $2.6 percent plus 10 cents per transaction.
Specific Square for Restaurants costs include:
- Hardware: Square for Restaurants also has three different options for complete hardware packages that include an iPad, stand, cash drawer, credit card chip reader, and two receipt printers; these kits cost around $1,400 with an iPad included
- Software: Square for Restaurants starts at $60 per month for one POS terminal; additional terminals are an extra $40 per month, per terminal
- Payment processing: Square for Restaurants has a built-in payment processing solution that costs 2.6 percent plus 10 cents per transaction; businesses that do more than $250,000 in sales volume each year and have an average ticket value of $15 or more can request a custom quote
- Setup fees: This is not required, but you can request a Square expert to come to your restaurant to help you set up the software and train your employees; this starts at $600
Overall, Square for Restaurants is an affordable solution for full-service restaurants. The transaction fees are slightly higher than some other payment processing providers, but the monthly software fee is lower than many competitors. Square also offers complimentary 24/7 customer support.
Square for Restaurants Features
Square for Restaurants focuses on features that help streamline operations for the front of house and ensure accurate communication between the guest, server, and kitchen. For example, servers can select exactly when to fire or hold certain dishes or courses for their tables. Overall, the Square for Restaurants software is intuitive and user-friendly.
With Square for Restaurants, you can create as many custom menus as you need for different days of the week, time of day, or special events. You can add pictures and descriptions to each item to help servers. Restaurants can also set up special discounts like happy hours to apply during certain hours automatically. Menus can be updated in real-time, and servers can switch between menus right from the dashboard.
Square for Restaurants has a unique conversational ordering feature, which essentially makes the order-entering process flexible so that servers can move quickly and make changes or adjustments as customers are speaking. Square also accommodates unlimited order modifiers so that servers can adjust each menu item to a guest’s liking.
With Square Restaurants, servers can control when they send each dish to the kitchen to be prepared. Each item can be separated into different courses, so guests receive their appetizers before the main course and can request drinks to come out with specific food items. Servers can switch items between courses with just a tap. Servers can also reorder items, such as drinks, with just one click.
With Square for Restaurants, servers include gratuity for larger parties, keep tabs open, and send digital receipts automatically. Servers can also assign individual items to specific customers or split the check into halves, thirds, or quarters.
Square for Restaurants lets business owners create a unique login for each employee to sign in and out of each shift and to track activity, including sales volume and discounts. Restaurants managers can also switch checks between employees and use the software to track who is handling which checks. Managers can set different permission settings for each employee, such as for functions like discounts or voids.
With Square for Restaurants, businesses can set up custom layouts for their specific restaurant. This allows servers to view how long each party has been at their table and check their order status, including whether or not specific food items have been fired or if they are waiting on the check.
Square for Restaurants tracks how much of each item was sold. Restaurants can synchronize and track item quantities across all points of the sale so that you know when you run out of an item. Restaurants can also view sales by specific item and by category and break those sales down by day or hour.
Square for Restaurants has a built-in customer directory that automatically creates a profile for each payment method. Restaurants can use the directory to build out complete profiles with names, contact information, and save payment methods. Restaurants can also designate VIP status for frequent customers.
Square for Restaurants lets business owners see reports on overall sales, sales by hour, sales by employee, sales by item, and sales by category. Additionally, Square for Restaurants includes reports on discount codes and coupons and reports on labor costs. Restaurant managers can also set up custom reports.
Square offers many other software solutions for businesses including payroll, email marketing, and loyalty programs. One of the benefits of using Square for Restaurants is that Square’s other solutions integrate seamlessly so that you can perform more business management functions from a single dashboard.
Square for Restaurants uses Square POS as a POS system to process payments, which charges a 2.6 percent plus 10 cents fee per transaction. Square POS is what allows restaurants to split checks, send digital receipts, and store customers in a directory automatically.
Caviar is Square’s to-go and delivery order management software. Caviar takes care of all the logistics behind food delivery, so your restaurant has to prepare the dish. Restaurants can update the online ordering menu in real time and even turn off online orders if the kitchen is too busy with dine-in guests. Caviar doesn’t have a monthly fee. Instead, it takes a percentage of each transaction. Delivery orders have an approximate fee of 28 percent and pickup orders an approximate fee of 12 percent.
Square Loyalty is a digital rewards program. Restaurants can reward customers based on visits, spend, or purchasing specific items. Customers receive a text or email notification when they earn points or rewards, so no separate app is necessary. Restaurants can customize rewards, and the data syncs with your other sales reports automatically. Square Loyalty starts at $25 per month.
Square Payroll is a payroll processing add-on that lets businesses pay employees and contractors directly through Square. You can run payroll at any time and, if your employees punch in and out of their shifts through Square, you don’t have to enter any data manually. Businesses can set up direct deposits, and Square takes care of filing federal and state payroll tax. Square Payroll starts at $29 per month plus $5 for each employee.
Square Marketing is an email marketing software that lets you send custom messages and campaigns right from the Square dashboard. You can set up automated messages, such as birthday emails. Because it is connected with your POS, business owners can also send coupon and discount codes within the emails. Square Marketing add-on starts at $15 per month.
Pros & Cons of Square for Restaurants
There are many positive features behind Square for Restaurants. However, there are different elements to consider before choosing which restaurant management software is best for your business.
Pros of Square for Restaurants
- Cost-effective: Square for Restaurants is competitively priced; overall, it is a great value for restaurants that want a lot of menu customization options
- Lots of integrations: Square for Restaurants is powered by Square, which offers an array of business solutions that all integrate with each other; by using Square for Restaurants, you have access to pick and choose from any of the other Square software integrations you want to use, and they all appear under one Square dashboard
- Easy to use: Square for Restaurants is essentially a plug-and-play software; after setting up your menus, you can start taking orders right away; since the software is easy to use, there is a minimal learning curve for employees
Cons of Square for Restaurants
- iPad-specific software: Square for Restaurants can only be run on iPads; if you are switching from another software that used Android or Windows, you could have heftier upfront costs
- Built-in payment processing: With Square for Restaurants, you can only accept payments through Square’s payment processing system, which doesn’t offer the lowest transaction rate
- Lackluster inventory management: Restaurants can’t set up orders through Square for Restaurants; it also doesn’t have some of the more granular management features like menu costing that other restaurant management software programs have
For a full list of positives and negatives, visit our official Square for Restaurants Review Page.
Alternatives to Square for Restaurants
There are dozens of restaurant management software programs out there, including several options that are in the same price range as Square for Restaurants. Most of them have standard inventory and table management features. Here are some popular alternatives to Square for Restaurants.
Lavu is a cloud-based iPad POS system specifically designed for restaurants. Lavu offers standard features like menu customization, easy order taking, and employee management. Lavu has built-in ToGo, Routing, and Delivery integrations. Lavu software starts at $69 per month per terminal. Hardware kits start at $399, iPads are an additional $399 each. Visit our Lavu Review Page to learn more.
TouchBistro is an iPad POS restaurant management software comes with over 200 features built-in including reservation management. TouchBistro starts at $69 per month for one software license. This software also operates on iPads, which are available for less than $400. Visit our TouchBistro Review Page to learn more.
Toast is a cloud-based POS and management system that runs on the Android operating system. Toast has advanced inventory management, menu costing, customer profiles and a broad range of order modifiers. Toast starts at $79 per month, per terminal. Hardware starts at $899 with a $499 installation fee. Financing with 0 percent interest is available. Visit our Toast Review Page to learn more.
The Bottom Line
Square for Restaurants is an easy-to-use restaurant management software that has robust front-end features like multiple menus, item customization, order coursing, table management, and a customer directory. At $60 per month, Square for Restaurants provides a ton of features at a very competitive price. If you have a full-service restaurant, quick-service restaurant, or restaurant that offers delivery, Square for Restaurants could be a great fit for your business.
Square Restaurant plans are on a month-to-month basis so that you can change your plan at any time. Square offers free customer support. For a fee, you can have a Square expert come to your business, set up Square for Restaurants with all the customizations you need and train your staff. Visit the Square for Restaurants website to learn more, and sign up for a free 30-day trial