What We Recommend Toast For
Toast POS consistently ranks as one of our best overall restaurant POS systems earning a 4.15 out of 5 and is frequently recommended in the food service industry. Toast is one of the most straightforward systems to navigate; training new staff on the system takes no time at all. Toast has also continuously been a great partner to the restaurants it supports. As a brand, Toast appears to truly listen to user feedback and use it to develop new tools as the industry faces new challenges.
In particular, we recommend Toast for:
- Efficient inventory management: Toast has our favorite restaurant inventory management features, earning a rating of 4.35 out of 5. The inventory module is easy to navigate (and included in the baseline POS subscription).
- Restaurants that need digital ordering and delivery: Toast added built-in online ordering and delivery options to its POS at lightning speed when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person dining. The system also has flexible options for integrating with third-party platforms too.
- Restaurants wanting to add paperless and contactless options: Toast offers a suite of hardware that includes self-service kiosks, handheld tablets, and kitchen display systems (KDS) to enable paperless and contactless restaurant operations. It also offers a QR-code ordering and payment tool that turns customer smartphones into mini self-service kiosks.
- Full-service bars and restaurants: Toast has the features any bar POS needs, like swipe-to-open tabs and real-time inventory tracking. Modules for online ordering and self-service ordering make Toast customizable for any kind of restaurant.
- Coffee shops: Toast is our top recommendation for coffee shops, earning a score of 4.55 out of 5. Aside from its granular inventory management features, Toast includes quick-service tools and flexible set up, making it the ideal cafe-friendly POS system for all sizes.
In the News
In June 2021, Toast purchased xtraCHEF, a cloud-based restaurant management platform that offers automated operational and financial management reporting, including food and recipe costing, actual vs theoretical variance reporting, margin mix reports, and more. This partnership makes Toast’s inventory management the strongest available in a cloud restaurant POS.
When Toast Would Not Be a Good Fit
Toast can handle high-volume business and menus with lots of modifications. When you combine those two challenges, though, the system can struggle. For example, traditional American-style pizzerias with extensive menus, lots of combos, and a high volume of customer modifications will quickly get tangled in the Toast modifier interface. Toast is also not a low-cost solution.
- For micro-operations: While Toast has a pay-as-you-go option, single-unit food trucks or ghost kitchens may find a two-year contract challenging on a small budget, especially during offseason when they would need to invest more on additional software features like marketing and digital ordering, and vehicle maintenance to keep the business going.
- For using your own hardware: Toast runs on proprietary tablets, so if you want the flexibility of an iPad POS, Toast is not for you.
- For a low-cost option: With its optional installation fees, proprietary hardware, and pricey add-ons, Toast is not a fit for restaurants that need a free or low-cost POS.
- High-volume, traditional pizza shops: For pizzerias that operate like full-service restaurants, Toast’s baseline functionality makes it an excellent choice. But, for traditional pizza shops trying to compete with Domino’s, you’ll find the high-volume pizza functions limited.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Check out our guide to the best POS systems to find the POS that’s the best fit for your concept.
Toast POS Overview
|Inventory and menu management features included in basic subscription||Frequent software updates can come at inconvenient times|
|Pricing plan starts with a pay-as-you-go option||Locked into Toast’s built-in payment processor|
|Excellent training and installation options||Must use Toast’s proprietary tablets|
|Intuitive interface||Installation fees increase upfront costs|
|Includes built-in peripherals like self-service kiosks, KDS, online ordering, and delivery||Not suitable to handle large, build-your-own pizza operations|
Toast offers its restaurant POS software at three pricing tiers: Starter, Essentials, and Growth. Hardware is sold separately, and you must purchase it through Toast at custom quoted rates. Toast offers assisted installation, which is currently quote-based but used to be advertised as starting at $699. For large or complex restaurant concepts, the installation fee will be higher.
Toast was initially conceived as an alternative to higher-priced, legacy POS systems like Aloha and Micros. Compared to those systems, Toast is priced competitively. However, compared to other cloud-based and hybrid POS, Toast pricing is in the mid-to-high range (depending on the level of functionality you need).
Toast POS Pricing Plans
Monthly software cost for one terminal
Inventory and Menu Management
Order and Table Management
Reporting and Analytics
Online Ordering and Delivery
Optional Add On
Toast Takeout App
Optional Add On
Optional Add On
Optional Add On
Optional Add On
Optional Add On
Optional Add On
Optional Add On
Payroll and Team Management
Optional Add On
Optional Add On
- Built-in: Payment processing is supported by Toast Service and Support Team.
- Flat Rate: A single flat rate per transaction makes it easy to track your costs.
- Custom quote: This is based on your card mix and sales volume.
- EMV and PCI compliant: And comes with active fraud monitoring.
- Offline payment: Spool seamlessly in the POS when you lose internet access.
Toast is designed as an all-inclusive POS package. Toast subscribers are locked into Toast Payments as well. Toast Payments offers a single flat rate for processing all types of credit and debit card payments, with custom-quoted rates that depend on your card mix and sales volume. Toast Payments is backed by Toast’s customer support team and seamlessly spools offline payments if you lose internet connectivity.
Our experts confirm that Toast Payments processing rates are in line with industry standards. If you switch to Toast from another POS and payment processor, Toast is likely to match your current rates. However, if Toast will be your first restaurant POS, get rate quotes from other payment processors before signing up. Toast will usually try to match a rate if you can back it up with documentation.
Toast runs on Toast-built Android tablets. These come in various sizes, from standalone terminals (Toast Flex) to handheld tablets (ToastGo). It also offers a suite of peripherals like cash drawers, printers, scales, barcode scanners, and wall mounts. Networking tools like wired and wireless routers, alongside wireless access points, increase offline functionality.
Toast also offers peripheral equipment like KDS screens, self-service kiosks, and contactless card and mobile wallet readers (Toast Tap). Toast, in fact, has our favorite KDS set up. It is super intuitive to navigate and packed with detailed features. It includes easy-to-read all-day counts and various language settings that show the Toast team’s background in actual restaurants.
Toast offers a Starter Kit option that bundles both software and hardware, plus Toast payment processing. It offers pay-as-you-go and standard paid plans, in which you can choose between a zero upfront cost and software subscription with a higher payment processing fee or an $800 upfront cost and $69 monthly software subscription with separate transaction rates. Both options will tie you to a long-term contract.
Standard Paid Plan
Monthly software cost
Card not present processing
2.99% + 15¢ per transaction
3.50% + 15¢ per transaction
Card present processing
2.49% + 15¢ per transaction
Add-on software cost
Add 0.40% per transaction
- The upfront cost is for the hardware kit bundle, which includes the essentials, Toast POS Flex terminal, Toast Tap payment device, and router.
- The card-present and card-not-present transaction rate for the pay-as-you-go plan is included in the platform rate.
- The standard paid plan subscription can be billed monthly or annually.
- The pay-as-you-go option allows you to pay for your kit as a percentage of your sales.
- Additional terminals (POS plus software, Toast Flex, and Toast Tap) cost $999 each.
- You can also add a guest display screen, a kitchen display screen and a handheld device (Toast Go) to your kit.
- Other peripherals like receipt printers ($199), kitchen printers ($299), and cash drawers ($149) are also available.
Toast POS Features
- Solid foundations: Customizable floor plans for dining room orders, quick-order screens for the bar, multiple options for check splitting (by seat number or drag-and-drop), and swipe-open bar tabs
- Live data analytics: Reports generated from real-time data so you can make operational adjustments on the fly
- Comprehensive inventory: Included in the baseline POS
- Digital ordering: Orders placed online, via a mobile app, or QR-code feed directly into your in-house order stream
- Multilocation management: Manage costs, inventory, menus, and reports for all your locations from a central dashboard
- Toast TakeOut: Online platform showcases your restaurant to new guests, without commission fees
- Toast Delivery: Run an in-house delivery team or route delivery
Since Toast was developed as a budget-friendly option to locally installed restaurant POS behemoths like Micros, it’s no surprise the Toast POS is a powerhouse. Analytics use real-time data, so if you’ve grown to rely on in-the-moment flash reports for tracking sales and labor costs, Toast has you covered.
The back office suite allows you to manage multiple locations from a central dashboard. Add-on modules for digital ordering, delivery management, payroll, and workforce management are streamlined and packed with insightful features. You can enter menus for various dayparts and create bulk pricing rules to charge different rates for the same item when ordered from the bar versus the dining room.
- No extra cost: Toast includes inventory in the baseline system.
- Extensive training resources: One-one-one support is available, or use Toast University’s comprehensive online guides.
- Centralized: Sync in-house and digital orders in real time so you never sell items you don’t have.
- Cost alerts: Red and green arrows indicate rising or falling prices from vendors, so you always get the best deal.
- Customize your count: Create worksheets for daily, weekly, or monthly physical counts and organize them to match your storage areas.
- Info at your fingertips: Ingredient information is displayed right in the POS. Menu management report identifies top profit drivers at a glance.
Toast’s inventory module is our favorite for food and beverage operations. Toast’s recent purchase of xtraCHEF further solidifies its lead as the best restaurant inventory management available in a cloud POS. It is easy to use right out of the gate, but Toast also provides one-on-one training sessions and a vast resource library if you need assistance. The inventory module produces tons of great at-a-glance reports that show the real-time value of your inventory, and the connected menu management report helps identify which menu items are underperforming.
You can configure your virtual inventory to match your physical shelving and storage layouts to make inventory counting faster. Multilocation restaurant groups can manage the inventory of several units from a single dashboard. Inputting all your inventory and recipes into your Toast system further enables you to display recipes for menu items right in the POS so servers and bartenders have allergy and prep information at their fingertips.
Toast Digital Ordering and Delivery
- Digitally dominant: Supports online and mobile app orders
- Driver Options: Use your own drivers, toast delivery drivers, or third-party apps
- Control Traffic: Throttle digital orders off when your kitchen is busy
- Centralized inventory: Syncs with real-time inventory, so you never sell 86’d items
If you want to manage an in-house ordering and delivery program through Toast, you’ll need its Toast TakeOut and Toast Delivery components. These are included in the Essentials and Growth tiers; basic users will need to add them at a custom quoted price. Toast TakeOut lets customers place takeout and delivery orders from your website, the Toast TakeOut website, or a mobile app. They can also schedule future orders and track order status in real time.
Don’t need a POS, but want to use Toast’s online ordering platform? Check out Toast Now.
Toast Workforce Management
- Compliance checks: Automatically calculate tip make-up amounts when tipped staff fall short of local minimum wage.
- HR Hub: Electronically onboard new hires for paperwork such as W-2s and payroll enrollment.
- Regulation updates: Toast will update with local prevailing wage and labor laws based on your address.
- Tips: Set up tip calculations in Toast, or bulk import pooled tips via .csv file.
Toast’s comprehensive Payroll and Team Management module is available as an optional add-on at a custom-quoted price. This add-on acts as a full-spectrum human resources tool, allowing you to onboard new employees digitally and even auto-calculate additional wages required for restaurants that take a tip credit. The module is updated with the relevant labor laws based on your location, helping you comply with regulations like California’s meal break requirements and New York’s Spread of Hours law.
Toast’s baseline employee management options are substantial, even without the Payroll and Team Management module. The system can still act as your time clock, and you can configure tip pools by role, hours worked, or a percentage of sales, then print the expected tips on server and bartender shift reports, so they are transparent. The system further allows negative tip reporting, so servers and bartenders are not taxed money they tip out.
- Snapshot potential: Uses real-time data
- Everyone can use: Included in baseline subscription
- Available anywhere: Accessible via mobile-optimized cloud-based app
- Automate your nightly reports: Auto-email nightly summary to all managers and owners
- Tag anyone: Manager log can tag notes to specific managers and checks
Toast supports real-time flash reporting for labor and COGS, so you can adjust staff levels and sales strategies when they will make a difference to your bottom line. The Nightly Summary feature allows you to customize your nightly reports along with your manager log. Then you can automatically email the whole package to your management team at a set time. Even better? You can use “@” and “#” symbols to tag specific managers or check numbers where they are relevant so everyone stays on the same page.
Toast reports cover everything from staff productivity to menu management. Adding optional modules like Toast Loyalty and the KDS unlock even more reporting functions, allowing you to track customer rewards and kitchen ticket times, for example.
Toast Email Marketing
- Single platform: Built-in integration with your POS
- Minimal manual entry: Automatically collects emails
- Set up templates: Design and automate email campaigns
- Personalize: Create tailored messages based on your customer’s purchase history
- Measure: Track your email campaign performance with clear reporting and analytics
Toast Email Marketing is a built-in feature that directly integrates with your Toast POS system. This means you get to build your email list, run your marketing campaign and measure its performance, straight out of your POS platform. Like Square, it lets you design and automate targeted email campaigns; however, Toast is pricier and lacks the mobility that Square provides with a mobile marketing assistant. Toast Email Marketing comes free with the Growth subscription plan or as an add-on at $75 per month on a standard paid plan.
- Unlimited guest transactions: One flat monthly fee
- Seamless sign-up process: Easy signup from the checkout counter or online
- Simple and customizable: Points-based rewards program with customizable offers
- Convenient: Credit card-linked rewards—no loyalty cards needed
- Engage your guests: Includes a rewards lookup tool so your guests can check their points at anytime
- Personalize rewards: Customize sign-up bonuses and offer birthday rewards
- Remote installation: Requires remote installation and will cost you a one-time fee
Toast’s restaurant loyalty program offers a seamless and personalized way of building guest loyalty. Signup can be done at the point of checkout and points can be directly linked to their credit card so there’s no need to carry a loyalty card or sign in every time they visit. You can easily customize sign-up bonuses and set accrual and redemption rates, dollar to points exchange, and birthday rewards. This feature is available in Toast’s Growth subscription plan or as an add-on at $50 per month if you opt for a starter kit with a standard paid plan.
Toast Gift Cards
- Physical gift cards: Sell branded physical gift cards in-store
- E-gift cards: Sell e-gift cards by email or text
- Convenient: Can be used when purchasing items online, over the phone, or in-store
- Manage from a single platform: Integrated gift card sales and management tools in your POS
- Guest engagement: Guests can check their e-gift card balance from your website or online ordering site
- Track and measure: Toast Reporting and Analytics offer daily, weekly, and monthly sales data and detailed order history on each gift card transaction
- Remote installation: Requires remote installation and will cost you a one-time fee
Toast gift cards, available both as a branded physical card and in electronic form, come with tools that make it easy to sell, track, and manage directly from your POS system. You can sell e-gift cards by email or by adding a button to your website or online ordering site, which can then be sent to the recipient via email or text along with a custom message. Gift cards are available in Toast’s Growth subscription plan or as an add-on at $50 per month with a standard paid plan.
Toast Ease of Use
- Clean screens: Nested menus and modifiers enable uncluttered screens that are easy to read.
- Tap for more: Additional options are revealed with intuitive swipes and screen taps.
- Talk to a human: Customer support is available 24/7 year-round via phone, email, or online chat.
- School is in session: Comprehensive training resources—Toast University—are always available online.
- Personal service: A Toast representative will be on-site the day your system goes live. In-person support is available any time (by request, for a fee) to help you master the Toast ecosystem.
According to our evaluations, Toast is one of the most intuitive restaurant POS systems available. If you are comfortable operating a smartphone, the Toast ecosystem will feel like home. Virtually every button on the POS screen displays additional options when you tap on it. Modifier menus can be nested and “forced” in progressions that both keep your screens tidy and ensure that customizations like meat temperatures and sauces are never forgotten. Our expert has trained staff on the Toast POS in a single shift, less time than it takes them to memorize the restaurant phone number in most cases.
The back office is slightly trickier to navigate, only because there aren’t multiple colors to call your attention to things. Once you are comfortable with the vocabulary—for example, if you’re looking for a log of voids and discounts, you want the “Exceptions” report—you’ll easily find everything you need. When entering large amounts of data, whether tip pools or vendor invoices, you can typically bulk upload .csv spreadsheets to speed the process.
Toast Restaurant Software Alternatives
Toast is designed to work as an all-in-one software, hardware, and payment system. That’s appealing if Toast gives you a good rate for payment processing, but if you prefer to shop around for the best rates, it might not be a fit. Toast also only runs on Toast-provided tablets, so if you want to use equipment you already own, you’re out of luck.
If any of those are deal breakers for you, you have other options:
Best For: users looking for a low-cost POS
Best For: users who prefer their own payment processor
Best For: users who prefer more transparent pricing
Monthly fee from: $0
Monthly fee from: $69
Monthly fee from: $59
Hardware from: $49
Hardware from: Custom Quote
Hardware from: $104.99
Prefer an iPad POS? Check out our favorite iPad POS systems to find your best fit.
What Users Think of Toast POS
Overall, Toast users love the POS software. The Toast POS has earned a 98% user satisfaction rate on FinancesOnline, where it also earned the Experts Choice award in 2019 and 2020.
Across the board, experts and users alike give this system high marks:
- G2: Rated 4.4 out of 5 based on more than 160 user reviews
- Capterra: Rated 4.2 out of 5 based on some 280 user reviews
Users Don’t Like:
Easy set-up process with optional in-person installation and training
Customer service is unreliable
Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
Simple but somewhat dated interface
Software that continually evolves to meet new business needs
Many features require a custom quote
Hybrid setup that provides excellent offline functionality
Mandatory remote installation fee for Loyalty and Gift Card add-ons increases up-front cost
Built-in online ordering and delivery tools that allow restaurants to avoid high commission fees
Must use Toast-designed terminals and tablets and no payment processor flexibility
Toast POS has a laser focus on restaurant businesses and consistently drives innovation in restaurant software. This POS is an excellent fit for full-service restaurants of any style. It is exceptionally intuitive, easy to use, and provides robust reporting functions in its baseline system. Toast is an excellent tool for restaurants that want to expand into digital ordering, delivery, and contactless service models. To see if this system is right for you, visit Toast for a full demo.