Our rating(3.6/5)
Square for Restaurants EPOS is a 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. 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 and with Square card terminals. It has restaurant-specific features for small single- or multi-location food places, with options to connect to additional tools outside the Square platform.

The software requires an internet connection – otherwise, you cannot 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. A cool thing about Square are the complimentary functions like invoicing and virtual terminal.

Pricing

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

The Free plan is (surprise, surprise) free and has the least features. The Plus plan costs a monthly fee per location: £69 + VAT. Contrary to a lot of other POS providers, this fee covers an unlimited number of POS terminals as long as they are all placed in the same location. Any additional trading locations will cost another £69 + VAT each. The price of the Premium plan is tailored around your business, so it requires your contacting 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
‘Free’ subscription /location (unlimited tills) Free
‘Plus’ subscription /location (unlimited tills) £69 + VAT per month
‘Premium’ subscription /location (unlimited tills) Quote on request
Chip, contactless, swipe transaction rate 1.75%
Key-in & online order transaction rate 2.5%
Online order fee Pickup/self-serve orders free, delivery orders 50p/each
Instant Transfers 1% added to transaction fee
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free
Square for
Restaurants
cost
‘Free’ subscription /location (unlimited tills) Free
‘Plus’ subscription /location (unlimited tills) £69 + VAT per month
‘Premium’ subscription /location (unlimited tills) Quote on request
Chip, contactless, swipe transaction rate 1.75%
Key-in & online order transaction rate 2.5%
Online order fee Pickup/self-serve orders free, delivery orders 50p/each
Instant Transfers 1% added to transaction fee
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free

The card transaction fees are the same for the Restaurants software as with Square’s other services: 1.75% per transaction via chip and PIN, contactless and swipe cards, whether by credit or debit card, domestic, foreign or premium card, or mobile wallet. Refunds are free to process, and chargebacks incur no admin fees. If you want money deposited within a few hours, you can activate Instant Transfers for a 1% fee added to the base transaction rate.

Delivery orders that are placed online incur an additional 50p fee even though you handle the deliveries yourself. This is to pay for the additional features involved in takeaway orders, such as text massaging customers updates about the order.

A Square Restaurant Kit bundle is available to purchase if you are not getting your own hardware separately. The kit is delivered within 2-3 working days and there are three main bundles to pick from, all containing: 1 x Ethernet receipt printer with 25 paper rolls, 1 x Heckler iPad stand, 1 x Star Ethernet kitchen printer with 25 paper rolls, and 1 x printer-driven cash drawer.

In addition to that, the Reader Kit contains a Square Reader, the Terminal Kit contains a Square Terminal, and the Terminal + Stand Kit contains a Square Terminal, Square Stand and Square Reader with accompanying Dock for the card reader. An iPad can be added to any of the kits.

Hardware Costs*
Reader Kit (receipt printer, kitchen printer, print rolls, iPad stand, cash drawer, Square Reader) £580
Terminal Kit (receipt printer, kitchen printer, print rolls, iPad stand, cash drawer, Square Terminal) £760
Terminal + Stand Kit (receipt printer, kitchen printer, print rolls, iPad stand, cash drawer, Square Stand, Square Reader + Dock) £800
iPad (2019) 32GB WiFi Silver (added to any kit above) £349
Square Reader £19 (see offer)
Square Stand with Reader and Dock £109 (see offer)
Square Terminal £199 (see offer)

*Excluding VAT.

Hardware Costs*
Reader Kit (receipt printer, kitchen printer, print rolls, iPad stand, cash drawer, Square Reader) £580
Terminal Kit (receipt printer, kitchen printer, print rolls, iPad stand, cash drawer, Square Terminal) £760
Terminal + Stand Kit (receipt printer, kitchen printer, print rolls, iPad stand, cash drawer, Square Stand, Square Reader + Dock) £800
iPad (2019) 32GB WiFi Silver (added to any kit above) £349
Square Reader £19 (see offer)
Square Stand with Reader and Dock £109 (see offer)
Square Terminal £199 (see offer)

*Excluding VAT.

It is cheaper to get these kits as a bundle through Square than to buy the equipment individually (see before-and-after prices above), but if you already have some of the items, it could be better to source the rest separately.

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 colours.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square for Restaurants - POS menu

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 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 more 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:

  • Deciding which foods are fired immediately to the kitchen
  • 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 are only 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.

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: Mobile Transaction

Square Restaurants - actions menu

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.

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.

Image: Mobile Transaction

A bill can be divided between chairs at a specific table.

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
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 Store with online ordering (choice of subscriptions)
  • Gift cards
  • Timesheets

Features not included in the restaurant POS may be added as additional subscriptions through the many partner apps that integrate with Square. These cover areas like accounting, ecommerce, customer loyalty, inventory management and marketing.

Most of these additional tools cost a monthly subscription, so you should consider carefully whether it is most economical to choose a POS system already containing all the features you need, or whether it’s better to pick and choose integrations that work with Square for Restaurants.

Online & self-serve ordering

It’s never been more important to have a socially distanced setup as during COVID-19, and Square has been quick to introduce features for 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.

Image: Square

Square Restaurants Deliverect

Deliverect is an extra integration for accepting online orders via Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat.

Alternatively, Square for Restaurants can be connected with online takeaway websites (Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Just Eat and others). This requires a monthly Deliverect subscription fee of £39 + VAT, which is a discounted price for Square users (starts with a free trial). As with the online ordering page, Deliverect automatically sends takeaway orders to your POS system.

Card payments and hardware

Square for Restaurants can be used in conjunction with Square Reader and Square Terminal, but the latter has some restrictions. The system cannot be used with other card machines.

Photo: Square

Square Restaurants POS can be used with both Square Reader and Terminal.

Square Reader is fully integrated with the Restaurants software, i.e. it activates and accepts card payments in sync with the Square for Restaurants app when it is connected with the 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.

When setting up the Square POS for restaurants, the following settings are automatically enabled on the Terminal:

  • Predefined and open tickets
  • Open tickets menu as home screen
  • 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 only works on iPad and 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.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Square text receipt feedback

Instead of printing, you can email or text receipts asking for the customer’s feedback.

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
  • Cash management reports detailing paid-ins/outs, start of shift, etc. (Plus only)

Export end-of-day reports to an Excel (CVS) file, or integrate transactions with Xero, Zoho Books or another accounting program.

Customer support and reviews

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

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 UK, but there are occasional reports of funds being held unexpectedly by Square who then ask for transaction proof as part of the security procedures. 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).

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.

For a similar monthly fee, you can get more features with other software like TouchBistro or Lightspeed Restaurant.

On the other hand, 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.

Our verdict

Square for Restaurants is a welcome addition to the British 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 UK Rating Value: 3.5 Image: https://www.mobiletransaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/square-for-restaurants-review.jpg Review Author:Review Date: