Disclosure: Our editorial staff write reviews independently. We may be compensated if you sign up for a service through our affiliate links.

Our rating(3.9/5)
Square Restaurants POS and is an affordable solution that’s more than an app.
Square for Restaurants is an iPad-based POS system that works smoothly with Square credit card terminals. You pay a monthly subscription for each checkout license, with no fixed contract.
  • Highs: Simple fees. No lock-in. Self-serve, delivery and pickup ordering. Kitchen display system. Integration with payments.
  • Lows: No ingredient-tracking or reservations system. Not always intuitive. Have to use Square Payments.
  • Best for: Small restaurants, quick-service and busy bars looking for an all-in-one system.

What is Square for Restaurants?

Square restaurant POS is a cloud-based point of sale (POS) system that works on Square Register or iPad connected with Square card terminals. It has restaurant-specific features for small single- or multi-location food venues, with optional modules for payroll, customer loyalty, ecommerce and marketing.

The software generally requires an internet connection to sync with other iPad checkouts, but offline mode is available for cash and swipe payments.

A complimentary online ordering page enables you to accept orders for pickup and delivery, or you can use it for in-house QR code ordering. Orders are sent to a kitchen display system and your points of sale.

Many features are similar to Square’s free Point of Sale system. A cool thing about Square are the complimentary functions like a virtual terminal and e-gift cards.

Pricing

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

The Free plan is (surprise, surprise) free and covers unlimited locations and unlimited checkouts, but it has the fewest POS software features.

The Plus plan costs $60 a month per location with one checkout. If you have more than one point of sale at the same location, it costs $40 monthly for every extra iPad checkout. Additional locations are always charged $60 for the first point of sale license, and $40 per additional checkout licenses.

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. Otherwise, you can always use the Free plan for an unlimited time.

Square for Restaurants pricing
Monthly fee Free: $0/mo.
Plus: $60/mo. per location + first checkout
$40 per extra checkout
Premium: Quote on request
Chip, tap, swipe transactions 2.6% + 10¢ per transaction
Keyed-in transactions 3.5% + 15¢ per transaction
Online transactions 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
Online order fee Pickup: Free
In-house delivery: $0.50 per order
On-demand delivery: $1.50 per order
Payouts 1-2 business days: Free
Instant transfers: 1.5%
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free
Square for
Restaurants
pricing
Monthly fee Free: $0/mo.
Plus: $60/mo. per location + first checkout
$40 per extra checkout
Premium: Quote on request
Chip, tap, swipe transactions 2.6% + 10¢ per transaction
Keyed-in transactions 3.5% + 15¢ per transaction
Online transactions 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction
Online order fee Pickup: Free
In-house delivery: $0.50 per order
On-demand delivery: $1.50 per order
Payouts 1-2 business days: Free
Instant transfers: 1.5%
Refunds Free
Chargebacks Free

The card transaction fees are the same for the Restaurants software as with Square’s other services: 2.6% + 10¢ per swipe, chip or tap transaction. This fee 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 Discover 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 or online ordering page cost 2.9% + 30¢. Keyed transactions through Square Virtual Terminal or at your restaurant checkout cost 3.5% + 15¢ per transaction.

Delivery orders that are placed online incur an additional $0.50 fee when you deliver the food yourself. This is to pay for the additional features involved in takeaway orders, such as texting customers order updates. Alternatively, you can opt for Square’s On-Demand Delivery option for $1.50 per order, which pays for an external courier to deliver your food to customers.

Different Square Restaurant Kit bundles are available to purchase if you are not getting your own hardware elsewhere. With free shipping, the kit is delivered within 3-4 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 $615
Square Register $799 (see offer)
Square Reader $49 (see offer)
Square Terminal $299 (see offer)

*Excluding tax.

Hardware Price*
Choice of hardware kits (with e.g. receipt printer, kitchen printer, cash drawer, Square Stand, Square Terminal, Square Reader, Square Register) From $615
Square Register $799 (see offer)
Square Reader $49 (see offer)
Square Terminal $299 (see offer)

*Excluding tax.

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.

Alternatively, you can get Square Register for $799 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 installments 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.

If you need guidance on setting up floor plans, menus and your overall restaurant setup, Square offers 1-on-1 implementation support for at least $599.

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 customize 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 customized, such as whether to add Service Charge by default or manually. You can also choose the color scheme – light or dark.

Image: Square

Square Restaurants app

Square for Restaurants’s POS menu can be customized, 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 customization options. The interaction between front-of-house and back-of-house operations, i.e. orders placed at the register 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
  • 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 POS register have options to tailor some of these functions further.

Let’s have a look at Restaurants features, some of which are only on 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 on the Plus plan. It receives orders in real-time so you can prepare and organize 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 registers, repeat items, dining preferences and advanced discounts.

The differences between the plans are mainly:

Feature Free plan Plus plan
Customer support Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. (PT) 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 counts & auto-86ing
Shared device settings
Live sales
Reopen closed checks

In either case, you have access to several add-on Square features with monthly costs, including:

  • Square Loyalty
  • Square Payroll
  • Square Marketing
  • Square Online (online ordering available for free)

All Square merchants can sell and receive eGift cards, send email invoices and accept bookings through a free Virtual Terminal (a transaction fee applies).

Other software may be added through integrations with external apps compatible with Square. These apps cover things like accounting, marketing tools, inventory management (ingredient-tracking) and much more.

Most of the external software costs a monthly subscription, so you should consider carefully whether it is most 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 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. This can be for pickup and takeout deliveries, or self-serve orders within restaurant premises.

Takeout can be delivered in two ways: by your in-house delivery team (50¢ per order charged by Square) or fulfilled by DoorDash or Postmates ($1.50 per order charged for this). The latter is a pretty good deal considering the high fees charged on takeout platforms like Uber Eats – but then you need to put effort into marketing your business, as the ordering page is not on a famous ordering platform that gives you exposure.

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 online ordering

There’s no monthly fee for Square restaurant online ordering.

Alternatively, Square for Restaurants can be connected with online takeaway websites (Grubhub, DoorDash and Uber Eats). This requires a subscription for a connector platform like Chowly or Deliverect (setup fees may apply).

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
  • Require passcode from all users

These settings can be changed manually. You cannot add service charge, print ‘minimized 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, labor 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 register at the end of the day when you can verify the amount left in the cash drawer (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 or customized by day, device and team member
  • 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 business day support (6 a.m. – 6 p.m. Pacific Time). If you’re using Square Register, you get 24/7 support even on the Free plan.

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, but there are occasional reports of account suspensions without warning. Account holds can happen for security reasons, for example if Square suspects you are using the payment system for prohibited purposes.

We have not had problems with Square’s services or payments during our tests.

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.

That being said, even the Plus plan lacks 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.

Our verdict

Is Square for Restaurants worth the cost? The main things you are paying for are a restaurant-tailored POS system and coordinated orders between front and back of house. There’s a lot of value in Square’s complimentary payment features, such as self-serve ordering and pickup and delivery options.

Square integrates with tons of partner apps for various functions supporting your restaurant, so you’re not actually limited (at a cost). What you can’t change is the fact it only works with Square’s own card terminals, not 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 US Rating Value: 4 Image: https://www.mobiletransaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/square-for-restaurants-review-us.jpg Review Author:Review Date: