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Our rating(4.5/5)
Lightspeed Restaurant is a highly versatile iPad POS system for small restaurants.
Lightspeed Restaurant is so adaptable it can be confusing at times, but the integration options are wide and customer support extensive. The built-in payments and ordering system make it a decent all-in-one platform for restaurants.
  • Highs: Advanced features for an affordable POS system. Long-term commitment not required. Versatile ordering features. 24/7 support.
  • Lows: Not for Android or computers. Offline mode requires expensive server. Not always intuitive. Costs can rack up with add-ons.
  • Best for: Small-to-medium restaurants with complex food menus.

This is a US review. Looking for the UK review of Lightspeed Restaurant?

What is Lightspeed Restaurant?

As one of the most dominant companies in the point of sale (POS) sector, it is hard to get around Lightspeed Restaurant as a potential POS system for hospitality.

Lightspeed has bought up quite a few other POS providers in the past year, such as ShopKeep, Vend and Upserve, but has retained its own Lightspeed Restaurant POS system in its original form.

But what do you get with Lightspeed Restaurant exactly? It is a cloud-based app built for iPad only, with a payment system built in (if you opt for it). Apart from its many specialized restaurant features, it boasts a range of add-on features for online ordering, customer loyalty, accounting and much more.


Lightspeed Restaurant has a simple licensing cost per iPad using the POS app: $59 per month for the first iPad license on an annual plan (a year is paid upfront) or $69 monthly on a monthly plan. Extra register licences are $34 each per month.

There’s no contract lock-in, but subscription costs are non-refundable so paying for a year upfront is still a sort of commitment. There is, however, a 14-day free trial for new users.

Lightspeed fees
Lightspeed Restaurant app, 1st iPad license Monthly plan: $69/mo
Annual plan: $708 upfront ($59/mo)
Lightspeed Restaurant app, additional iPad licenses $34/mo each
Add-ons (Customer Facing Display, Kitchen Display System, Advanced Reporting, Self Order Table Menu, eCom for Restaurant) From $12/mo each
Premium add-ons (Accounting, Loyalty, Loyalty App, Self Order Kiosk, Delivery Integration, Order Ahead) From $39/mo each
Lightspeed Restaurant app, 1st iPad license Monthly plan: $69/mo
Annual plan: $708 upfront ($59/mo)
Lightspeed Restaurant app, additional iPad licenses $34/mo each
Add-ons (Customer Facing Display, Kitchen Display System, Advanced Reporting, Self Order Table Menu, eCom for Restaurant) From $12/mo each
Premium add-ons (Accounting, Loyalty, Loyalty App, Self Order Kiosk, Delivery Integration, Order Ahead) From $39/mo each

Multi-location restaurants, hotel restaurants and other complex businesses can opt for a Premium subscription with custom pricing.

The central POS app deliberately has a relatively low licensing cost, because most businesses will want a range of both basic and “premium” add-on modules (see table above) for more specialized functions. In the end, the monthly cost can rack up, so Lightspeed Restaurant is not necessarily cheap.

Then you have card payments to consider – and Lightspeed Payments is a strong contender for those who prefer to keep everything in one place. Merchants pay a fixed rate per card reader payment (2.6% + 10¢) and manually keyed card payments (2.6% + 30¢). Apart from that, there is only a fee of $15 per chargeback.

Lightspeed Payments Transaction fee
Dip, swipe, tap payments 2.6% + 10¢
Keyed payments 2.6% + 30¢
Chargebacks $15
Dip, swipe, tap payments 2.6% + 10¢
Keyed payments 2.6% + 30¢
Chargebacks $15

All the hardware you could ever need for Lightspeed Restaurant can also be purchased through Lightspeed. You’ll need to contact the company for a personalized quote based on the combination of equipment required.

User experience

As beautiful as the iPad app is, the interface takes a bit of getting used to.

Some functions feel counterintuitive. If you accidentally select a table on the floor plan, it starts a new tab that can only be undone by tapping “Pay” and “Finalize” instead of just going back to the floor plan where the table would otherwise be marked as taken.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Lightspeed Restaurant POS

Main point of sale interface of the Lightspeed Restaurant app.

During testing, we noticed a few places with unnecessary extra steps. For instance, drag-and-drop had to be manually enabled on the product setup page in the online dashboard before you can use it on iPad.

Another limitation is that images can only be added in the online dashboard, not within the app. On the other hand, this can help keep things in order so that staff will not accidentally mess things up.

Takeaway and delivery orders also have to be initiated through dedicated tables regardless of whether you have physical tables for those or not. This affects the visual layout of the floor plan, since you may need to adjust it to accommodate for these virtual tables. You can add multiple different floors to each location where needed.

POS app features

Lightspeed Restaurant offers one of the broadest ranges of features for food and drink in the iPad POS sector. Whatever basic functionality (such as tipping) you may be thinking of, it is probably there, plus many others to elevate it to a professional restaurant register tailored for your establishment.

Let’s look at some of its important features.

Menu options: You don’t just add individual products to the POS – you combine items to make up meals, and group meals into categories like side dishes, mains and desserts.

Add upselling reminders about related products that customers might want when specific items are ordered. For an extra cost, you can set up a self-service iPad (a separate app called Self Order Table Menu) that is left at the customer’s table, through which they can just order off your menu or both order and pay, while your staff is busy serving other people.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Lightspeed Restaurant table plan

Example of a table plan in the Lightspeed Restaurant app.

Tables: You get to design table plans (multiple floors/rooms possible) through graphical elements, so you can accurately assign orders to specific seats at a table.

Customer switching table? No problem – just transfer the tab to the new table. Customers can also split the bill in any way needed, for instance choose to split by seat, pay in equal parts or let each person pay for selected items.

Reservations: Take table reservations in the app at selected times, adding number of customers, status of reservation and a note with other details.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Lightspeed Restaurant reservations

The core POS app can place and manage table reservations.

Timed offers: Running a happy hour deal, Saturday promotion or any other limited offers? Set up timed discounts that apply to specific products, so staff don’t have to check the time and apply discounts manually.

Modifiers: Lightspeed’s modifiers are additional choices assigned to a product or category to provide more details about the order. For example, add a type of salad dressing, cooking temperature or preferred side dishes out of a selection of options.

Image: Mobile Transaction

Lightspeed Restaurant payment methods

Checkout screen with some of the many payment options outlined, incl. gift cards.

Gift cards and customer loyalty: Create or pay by gift cards directly in the app. Returning customers can be added to the customer library to enable quick checkout and easy delivery orders.

Each customer profile contains as much or little information as you add, but also tracks what they consumed, payment information and when they last bought from you.

Employee management: Set up multiple staff accounts with highly customized permissions per role. We were impressed by the number of permissions you can toggle on or off (60+ different kinds such as “Allow edit discounts”, “Allow viewing cash drawer history” etc.). Users clock in and out of the app and you can analyze each staff member’s sales data any time in the backend.

Stock management: Keep track of what stock is running low by enabling inventory tracking on individual products.

Curiously, we noticed that stock level count doesn’t apply to food ingredients directly, but to the complete product purchased by the customer. The way it works now, you can view ingredients consumed, but not the current stock level of them, so you still have to keep track of what you have left when it comes to this.

Location management: Not only can you set up multiple floor plans with various table types (e.g. bar, takeout, regular tables) from the app, you can also add multiple physical locations and coordinate stock exchanges between them. The software is, in other words, built to accommodate chains and non-static food establishments.

Online ordering

Lightspeed has really expanded its in-house and online ordering options connected to the point of sale with its add-on called Lightspeed Order Ahead. This basically gives you the tools to create an online ordering page on the internet. With this page, you can:

  • Accept orders online for delivery, curbside pickup or takeout.
  • Set up contactless ordering from customer tables via QR code.

The web page can be customized with your branding and menu, and orders can be sent directly to your point of sale or kitchen display system (KDS), depending on your workflow.

Image: Lightspeed

Lightspeed Restaurant online ordering

Online orders can be sent directly to the kitchen display system (KDS).

The delivery option refers to your own courier system, not an outsourced solution like Uber Eats. By using your own couriers, you can save the high delivery fees applicable on popular takeout platforms.

Alternatively, Lightspeed Delivery (powered by Deliverect) can connect your online food menu with delivery platforms like DoorDash, Skip The Dishes and Uber Eats to accept orders that are delivered for you. This does cost more, but opens up for a lot more takeout customers online.

Card payments and hardware

If you choose Lightspeed Payments as your card processing system, you only need to switch it on in your POS system. However, accepting EMV, contactless and swipe cards does require a credit card machine purchased from Lightspeed. No other card readers are accepted for Lightspeed Payments.

Photo: Lightspeed

Lightspeed Restaurant hardware

Lightspeed Payments requires its own terminals, but some equipment can be bought elsewhere.

Alternatively, you can integrate Lightspeed Restaurant with card machines from 1ACCEPT, TSYS or Vantiv (now Worldpay). Any of these integrated solutions enable an automated flow where the card machine is synced with the POS software and checkout process.

You also have the option to use a non-integrated card machine, where you accept the cards independently while processing the order in the POS app and manually clicking “finalize” when the credit card has been accepted through the card machine.

Unless you only want to email customers their receipts, you’ll need to integrate the POS app with a compatible receipt printer. Lightspeed is compatible with various Epson receipt printers, cash drawers, kitchen printers and even a kitchen bell.

Offline mode

Just like you keep candles in store for power outages, you may want to guarantee your restaurant runs smoothly even if the WiFi stops working. Lightspeed has an offline mode, but it only works in conjunction with a Lite Server that you must purchase separately from Lightspeed. The price is not displayed publicly, but we’ve seen it costing hundreds of dollars, so it is not a cheap purchase.

Photo: Lightspeed

Lite Server is required for offline mode.

Buying this allows you to use Lightspeed Restaurant even without an internet connection, so front-end staff will still be able to serve customers. Any new changes will be synced with the Lightspeed cloud when connected next time.

Having said that, your credit card machine will probably need an internet connection to process payments anyway, so instead of going for the Lite Server, one option would be to get a cheap backup connection such as a mobile 4G hotspot.

Reports and analytics

Sales reports, such as Z and X reports, can be printed directly from the app and accessed only by users with permission to view the data.

The backend (‘Lightspeed Restaurant Manager’) shows various customized reports that can be exported as PDF or CSV files. Here, you can analyze things like staff performance, daily, weekly or monthly sales, ingredients used, products sold and shift reports.

In the ‘Advanced Reports’ tab, you can fully customize the layout and content of reports via drag-and-drop, although this needs to be activated by contacting customer support first.

Alternatively, the Lightspeed Accounting add-on lets you sync sales with Xero, QuickBooks or other accounting software.

Customer support

Lightspeed offers phone support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to all their customers.

When we signed up for the trial, they actually phoned on several occasions to discuss our needs; even sent an email after a few days. The phone support is knowledgeable and they are even willing to answer questions over email or their website chat.

Paying customers get a free onboarding video session with a Lightspeed consultant, where you get introduced to the software and can have all your questions answered. The online help section answers a lot of questions, so you may not even need to contact support after the onboarding session.

Our verdict

There’s no doubt Lightspeed Restaurant POS is built by industry veterans who know what a food and drink business needs. It may take some getting used to before you confidently navigate the interface, but then you can take full advantage of a system with a unique setup to drive your operations extremely well.

That said, some customers occasionally mention very specific functions not addressed by Lightspeed, so if you trial the software, we recommend checking all the different things you need in your business to avoid frustration later.

Although the core POS system already contains a lot of restaurant management features, there’s no escaping the fact that many specialized features like online ordering and a customer display system incur additional costs. Lightspeed’s many useful add-ons can quickly rack up the total monthly cost of the system.

But with all these extra features and integrations available, Lightspeed Restaurant is a highly adaptable system that lets you respond quickly to any changes in your business.