Our rating(3.7/5)
Square for Restaurants EPOS is great value for those with multiple tills.
Square for Restaurants is an iPad-based POS system that works with Square card terminals for payments. The monthly subscription includes software for any number of iPads at one location.
  • Highs: Simple fees. No lock-in. Self-serve ordering. Kitchen display system. Seamless integration with Square payments.
  • Lows: Not always that intuitive. No ingredient-tracking. Features can be too simple for some.
  • Best for: Small restaurants and busy cafés with several points of sale.

What is Square for Restaurants?

Square restaurant POS is a cloud-based system that works on iPad (if you’re not using Square Register) and with Square card terminals. It has restaurant-specific features for small single- or multi-location food venues, with options to connect to additional tools outside the Square platform.

The software requires an internet connection – otherwise, you can’t accept card payments or sync with other iPad tills. You can set up an unlimited number of tills, send orders to a kitchen printer – even integrate with online orders – among other things.

Many features are similar to Square’s free Point of Sale system. Cool things about Square are the complimentary functions like QR code ordering and a virtual terminal.

Compatible EFTPOS reader: Square Reader – is it any good?

Pricing

There are three Square POS restaurant plans: Free, Plus and Premium.

The Free plan is (surprise, surprise) free and has the fewest features. The Plus plan is priced monthly, at $129 incl. GST, per location. Contrary to a lot of other POS providers, this fee covers an unlimited number of POS terminals at the same location. Any additional trading locations will cost another $129 each. The price of the Premium plan is tailored around your business, so you’ll need to speak to Square for a quote.

You can sign up for a 30-day free trial of Plus or Premium. Otherwise, you can always use the Free plan for an unlimited time.

Square for Restaurants cost
Subscription per location (unlimited tills) Free: $0/mo.
Plus: $129/mo.
Premium: Quote on request
Chip, contactless, swipe transaction rate Square Reader: 1.9%
Square Terminal: 1.6%
Keyed-in and online transaction rate 2.2%
Online order fee Pickup/self-serve orders free, delivery orders 50¢/each
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free
Square for
Restaurants
cost
Subscription per location (unlimited tills) Free: $0/mo.
Plus: $129/mo.
Premium: Quote on request
Chip, contactless, swipe transaction rate Square Reader: 1.9%
Square Terminal: 1.6%
Keyed-in and online transaction rate 2.2%
Online order fee Pickup/self-serve orders free, delivery orders 50¢/each
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free

The card transaction fees are the same for the Restaurants software as with Square’s other services: 1.9% per chip or tap transaction through Square Reader or 1.6% per payment through Square Terminal or Square Register. These fees apply to any card, whether it’s a credit or debit card, domestic, foreign or premium card, or mobile wallet. Square accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and eftpos cards.

Refunds are free to process, and chargebacks incur no admin fees. Payouts are processed to your bank account for free the next business day.

Transactions through your online store, payment links, online ordering page or virtual terminal cost 2.2% – this applies to keyed-in transactions at your restaurant checkout as well.

Delivery orders that are placed online incur an additional $0.50 fee even though you deliver the food yourself. This is to pay for the additional features involved in takeaway orders, such as texting customers order updates.

Different Square Restaurant Kit bundles are available to purchase if you are not getting your own hardware elsewhere. The kit is delivered within 2-7 business days.

Hardware Price*
Choice of hardware kits (with e.g. receipt printer, kitchen printer, cash drawer, Square Stand, Square Terminal, Square Reader, Square Register) From $899
Square Register $1,099 (see offer)
Square Reader $59 (see offer)
Square Terminal $439 (see offer)

*Including GST.

Hardware Price
Choice of hardware kits (with e.g. receipt printer, kitchen printer, cash drawer, Square Stand, Square Terminal, Square Reader, Square Register) From $899
Square Register $1,099 (see offer)
Square Reader $59 (see offer)
Square Terminal $439 (see offer)

*Including GST.

It is more affordable to purchase the kits as a bundle through Square, as opposed to buying the equipment individually (see before-and-after prices above). However, if you already have some of the items, it could be better to source the rest separately.

Alternatively, you can get Square Register for $1,099 incl. GST that would replace the need for an iPad, tablet holder and card machine. This is a unique touchscreen device by Square with the Restaurants POS built in.

If you can’t pay upfront, Square provides their own interest-free instalments available as 3-, 6- or 12-month plans. After submitting a few basic details for the credit check, you will get an instant response as to whether Square approved the repayment plan.

User experience

While Square is known for their user-friendly Point of Sale (the free POS app) interface, Square for Restaurants looks too simple to believe it has all the features you need in a restaurant. Don’t be fooled, though – the system is built for efficiency, giving you features for a tailored experience of the POS system.

Food items or buttons can be grouped into menus (e.g. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner), display groups (e.g. Hot Drinks, Sides, Shortcuts) and products with variants and modifiers (Americano, regular size, with milk). You can switch between menus via a button below the menu display. Display groups can contain any categories like Hot Drinks or Shortcuts where functions can be accessed from the main screen rather than the separate Actions section.

Basically, you can customise the POS screen in many ways to fit your needs, e.g. include bestsellers on the main Breakfast menu screen, but by clicking Hot Drinks, you go to a screen that shows all the hot drink options. A lot of processes can be customised, such as whether to add Service Charge by default or manually. You can also choose the colour scheme – either light or dark.

Image: Square

Square Restaurants app

Square for Restaurants’s POS menu can be customised, but there are no images of products.

You can’t display images of products, and the font and style of buttons and menus are so non-distinct that it can actually slow you down when you carefully read which option to tap next. Some actions, such as adding a variant of a product, require an unnecessary extra button tap, so this could’ve been streamlined more. That said, the backend POS settings give you options to choose which screen to land on after certain actions – so the flow is partially decided by you.

Square asks you to set up a lot of functions before the first time of using the app. This can be daunting for someone who hasn’t considered all the detailed ways to use a POS system. A more intuitive way is to decide all these things in steps as you are introduced to the functions visually in the software, with detailed explanations of what it all means. I had to look up some settings in the help section before I was able to make a qualified decision on some of them.

POS features

Compared to the free Square Point of Sale, the Restaurants software feels like an extension of the free software – but with more restaurant features and customisation options. The interaction between front-of-house and back-of-house operations, i.e. orders placed at the till and fired to the kitchen, is one of the key things you are paying for. This includes:

  • Kitchen Display System (KDS) app;
  • Deciding which foods are fired immediately to the kitchen; and
  • Timing of courses.

Many features are similar to the free Point of Sale features, including all the payment methods (card reader, manual card entry, cash, cheques, vouchers, others), split bills, adding tax, tipping, product variants, customer library and gift cards. A difference with the Restaurants POS is that settings for each iPad till have options to tailor some of these functions further.

Let’s have a look at Restaurants features, some of which you’ll only find in the Plus (paid) plan.

Table tab functions: The visual floor plan, dividable into sections, is handy for keeping track of orders. Attach each bill to a person/chair and check the timer attached to each table for when the group arrived. Decide when the table should turn on the floor plan (e.g. after an hour) to make it easier to spot who’s likely to leave soon. You can also split bills after you started creating one order for a table, so each chair gets a separate receipt for their own items.

Image: Mobile Transaction

The web editor for Square for Restaurants floor plans.

Kitchen Display System (KDS): This is a separate app for your kitchen included in the Plus plan. It receives orders in real-time, including from Uber Eats if connected to this, so you can prepare and organise orders efficiently.

Image: Square

Square KDS app

The Kitchen Display System app is included on Plus.

Discounts and promotions: Set up various kinds of discounts like Buy One, Get One Free, Student Discount (% or $) and timed promotions like a Happy Hour offer on all alcoholic drinks on set days and times.

Service charge and tipping: In the Dashboard, you can set a discretionary service charge to be added to bills automatically, whether for larger groups (determined by number of seats) or anyone. It is also possible to apply taxes to the service charge automatically. Alternatively, you can set up detailed tipping options.

Image: Square

Actions menu options accessible in the Restaurants app.

Employee management: Set up individual staff accounts so you can analyse sales per employee, attach orders to individual colleagues, track work hours, set individual staff permissions and view timecards. Square for Restaurants requires employees to log in with a device code specific to the individual iPad.

Image: Square

Square Restaurant POS shift report

Shift reports can be generated in the POS app.

Stock management: Products can be tracked, i.e. you can add stock levels for each item and automatically hide it when out of stock, but you can’t track ingredients. This means you need a separate system to manage food inventory and new stock orders.

Customer library: Create a customer library with personal details such as address, order history and saved payment methods (useful for invoices). You can’t add loyalty points to customer profiles, though, so you’re dependent on discounts and gift cards as loyalty perks.

While all of the above can be done with Restaurants Plus, there are some limitations on the Free plan. On both plans, you get access to the Order Manager, fast entry orders, multi-location management, remote device management, open tills, repeat items, dining preferences and advanced discounts.

The differences between the plans are mainly:

Feature Free plan Plus plan
Customer support Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm 24/7
Team management Free tier included ‘Team Plus’ included
Table management Basic Advanced (w/seat mgmt.)
Menu management Basic Advanced (w/course mgmt.)
Reporting Basic Advanced (w/shifts, section sales)
Service charge Basic Advanced (w/party size thresholds)
Closing procedures
Included w/close of day reports
Kitchen display system (KDS)
Item availability tracking
Shared device settings
Live sales
Reopen closed sales

In either case, you have access to many add-on features including:

  • Square Invoices (useful for catering jobs, no monthly fees);
  • Virtual Terminal (for remote payments, no monthly fees);
  • Square Online with online ordering (choice of subscriptions);
  • Gift cards; and
  • Timesheets.

Features not included in the restaurant POS may be added through integrations with external apps compatible with Square. These apps cover functions like accounting, ecommerce, customer loyalty, inventory management and marketing.

Typically, the external software will set you back extra, likely under a monthly subscription. So, you should consider carefully whether it is more economical to choose another POS solution containing all the features you need, or whether you don’t mind picking and choosing integrations that work with Square for Restaurants.

Online and self-serve ordering

It’s never been more important to have a socially distanced setup in this COVID-19 environment, and Square has been quick to introduce features to address this. Firstly, all Square merchants can mark POS transactions as eat-in, takeaway, delivery and pickup to distinguish transactions in the system.

But Square also offers a free online ordering page for customers to order from. This can be for click and collect (pickup) and takeaway deliveries, or self-serve orders within restaurant premises.

You can print QR codes to place on your tables, which seated customers can scan with their phones. A web page with your menu then appears in their phone browser, enabling the customer to order and pay for meals from their phones. All food orders will be sent to the POS or kitchen display system so they can be prepared immediately.

Square Restaurants online ordering

With an integration, online food orders are sent to your POS system and Kitchen Display app.

Alternatively, Square for Restaurants can be connected with online takeaway websites (Menulog, DoorDash, Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Zomato). This requires a Doshii or Deliverect or subscription (a free trial and/or setup fee may apply). As with the online ordering page, Deliverect automatically sends takeaway orders to your POS system.

Card payments and hardware

The Square for Restaurants EPOS only works on iPad and Square Register, not iPhone, Android tablets or computers.

Square Register includes a connected card terminal, whereas the iPad app only works directly with Square Reader. You can also use Square Terminal, but this has some restrictions. The system cannot be used with other card machines.

Photo: Square

Square Register till

Square Register is perfect for socially distanced payments.

The classy-looking Square Register is a complete countertop setup (minus a receipt printer and cash drawer). It has a touchscreen interface for the POS software and touchscreen card terminal facing the customer. You just need WiFi and then you’re good to go with that.

Square Reader activates and accepts card payments in sync with the Square for Restaurants app when it is connected with an iPad via Bluetooth. Square Terminal, on the other hand, can only use the built-in Point of Sale software, but you can connect it with the Restaurants software so it’s in sync for tableside ordering.

The following settings are automatically enabled on Square Terminal when you set it up for the Restaurants system:

  • Predefined and open tickets;
  • Open tickets menu as home screen; and
  • Require passcode from all users.

These settings can be changed manually. You cannot add service charge, print ‘minimised receipt length’ receipts, add products to a seat or use detailed modifiers on Terminal.

The restaurant software works with a selection of compatible receipt printers, cash drawers and kitchen printers. Not only that – the backend settings allow you to determine how a food order is sent to kitchen printers (e.g. “Straight Away” items are sent to the kitchen printer without coursing information) and work in combination with other iPads in your food establishment.

Reports and analytics

Square’s analytics are accessed fully in the web dashboard (need to log in via an internet browser). These are just some of the things you can analyse in detail: sales trends, payment methods, discounts, modifier sales, labour vs. sales analyses, service charges, voids and gift cards.

The cash drawer is managed through the iPad app, where you start the day confirming the amount of cash, and close the till at the end of the day when you can verify the amount left in the till (note: these are Plus plan features).

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square for Restaurants account menu

Reporting and account options in the iPad app.

The Square for Restaurants app allows you to view:

  • Live sales (Plus only);
  • Sales reports that can be emailed, printed or customised by day, device and team member; and
  • Cash management reports detailing paid-ins/outs, start of shift, etc. (Plus only).

You can export end-of-day reports to an Excel (CVS) file, or integrate transactions with Xero or QuickBooks accounting software.

Customer support and reviews

The Plus subscription includes round-the-clock phone support, while Free only has weekday support (9am-5pm Melbourne time).

There’s also a help section online, walkthrough videos and articles answering most questions. When you get started with the software, written prompts tell you what to do next, however these could be more elaborate.

Customer reviews are generally good for Square Australia, but there are occasional reports of Square requesting documents as part of security procedures or onboarding. From our own tests, we have not had any problems with Square’s service or payments.

Who is Square for Restaurants best for?

If you’re already using Square for card payments, ecommerce or invoicing – and opening a café, bar or restaurant – it’s a no-brainer to try out Square for Restaurants. The software works seamlessly with Square payments and integrates with all your Square activities across multiple locations, but it only works with Square’s card machines (and only on iPad or Square Register).

Most other POS providers charge their subscriptions per tablet till, which quickly racks up the monthly cost.

That being said, even the Plus plan lacks many advanced features like ingredient-tracking and table reservations, so you’ll need to figure out what features would benefit your establishment and see if Square can meet those criteria.

If you have multiple till points at the same location, there’s lots of money to save because the monthly fee covers unlimited iPad tills at the same location.

Most other POS providers charge their subscriptions per tablet till, which quickly racks up the monthly cost.

Looking for retail POS? See our review of Vend POS system

Our verdict

Square for Restaurants is a welcome addition to the Australian Square offering, but Restaurants Plus may be overpriced for just one till. The main things you are paying for is a restaurant-tailored POS system with crucial features for this sector, customisation options, coordinated orders between front and back of house – with 24/7 support thrown in for good measure.

Then again, there’s a lot of value in Square’s complimentary payment features, such as self-service ordering at your establishment.

Other POS systems for hospitality have more advanced features for a similar price (or similar features for less), but with multiple tills at one location, Square can work out cheaper per iPad.

Square can integrate with tons of partner apps for various functions like customer loyalty, takeaway ordering, restaurant management and more, so you’re not actually that limited. What you can’t change is the fact it only works with Square’s own card terminals, so there is no option to use other payment systems.

The absence of a locked-in contract makes Square for Restaurants a low-risk investment, but finding out what functions you need in your food business is key to deciding whether it is the best value for your budget.

Name of Reviewed Item: Square for Restaurants Australia Rating Value: 3.5 Image: https://www.mobiletransaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/square-for-restaurants-australia-review.jpg Review Author:Review Date: