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Cash only restaurants


TAPrice
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The other night, my wife and I decided to try the recently reopened Ciro's Cote Sud on Maple Street. For some reason, we'd never tried it before, even though one of our most trustworthy food sources raves about it (the man's French, well, French Canadian).

When we got there, we remembered why we never went. We tried once before, but were so put off by their cash only policy that we went elsewhere. This time, I drove several blocks to an ATM while she got a table. And it was good, and I might go back. But the cash only thing bugs me.

New Orleans seems to have an unusual number of cash only restaurants. I have no problem with snowball stands not taking credit cards. When a place like Ciro's, which sells bottles of wine, doesn't take plastic, I think it's ridiculous.

I also had this experience at Mandina's. Looking at their brand new, computerized point of sale system, it just seemed obstinate that they wouldn't hook it up to a phone line and take credit cards.

So what is your tolerance level for cash only place? I'm ok with po-boy shops, but I don't appreciate a place like Lola's not taking credit cards.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I definitely agree. I had a great meal at Ciro's, but didn't notice the tiny cash-only sign on the door, and wasn't informed of this policy until after the meal. I had to drive to the nearest ATM, and it really left me with a less favorable impression of Ciro's than I would have had if they accepted credit cards.

It's obvious that businesses like snowball stands would rack up more in processing fees than the cost of the items they're selling if they accepted credit, but for a restaurant that charges me 100-odd dollars for a meal, it comes off as a lack of effort on their part to neglect to set up a credit system.

Sorry for the angry tone this may have captured, but it's a sore spot with me also.

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I used to work for a credit card processor. Talk about getting ripped off! It's the merchants who have to pay all those fees. Just try sitting down and deciphering one of those monthly statements. hahahahaha. It is absurd patently absurd. 'Cause it was my job to explain them to people. If you don't have pristine credit and you don't maintain a high enough flow of transactions and bladeebladeebla. Honestly It's a joke a pure joke. Hats off to people ballsy enought to buck the system 'cause the system is sure bucking them and us too.

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It does seem, though, that cash only places are more frequent in New Orleans. I'm not sure why that is.

Are they making money off the ATMs set up in the business?

I also don't mind Casamento's being cash only, but I can't say that I'm not glad that Camellia Grill starting taking plastic.

Honestly, I don't like walking around with $100 or more in cash.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I was chatting with a local restaurant owner one night and he asked me if I thought he should go cash only. Seems credit card fees were running three grand a month. Now, his pace is very popular and it's not a cheap place - though not particularly expensive, either, but it isn't large and he doesn't do lunch. $3000 a month is enough to hire another employee, buy a BMW or keep wine prices low -- seems like a reasonable alternative for any informal place. I mean, I prefer to pay with Amex, which a lot of restaurants don't take because their fees are higher, and often don't have the cash in my debit account to cover a nice meal at the end of the month (my one concession to fiscal responsibility was ditching my other credit cards). If one person is within their rights to demand that credit cards be accepted, should I be allowed to dictate which ones?

Personally, I can't imagine being "so put off by" a no credit cards policy that I wouldn't eat at a good restaurant (unless I had that end-of-the-month thing going). If someone wants to serve me a decent meal at a decent price, I can make accommodations. And it's a hell of a lot less of a hassle than spending $50 cooling your heels in the bar for an hour, or dialing weeks in advance, for hours at a time, to get a rezzie.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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So what is your tolerance level for cash only place?

It's their business they make the rules not CC companies as mentioned.

As an old Hockey coach used to say "The inmates don't run the asylum" :wacko:

Honestly, I don't like walking around with $100 or more in cash.

You must frequent some very down 'hoods! :raz:

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It seems like a petty thing to complain about, honestly. Restaurants have enough accounting headaches to deal with that, for some, the credit card companies are just one too many. At one restaurant I managed, the CC company had a bug in its computers and would double- and triple-charge customers for the same transaction (like, they would get three charges for, say, 100 dollars). Guess who they called when they spotted these charges? Yeah, that's no fun. A lot of restaurants are run by chefs, who have very little accounting skill, and hate dealing with stuff like that anyway. If you've ever seen the CC invoice the CC company sends you, you'd understand. It is impossible to make sense of, and it's dozens of pages long.

It's not as if carrying cash is some hard thing, or that getting it on the fly is very difficult either. Most restaurants are located in some kind of high-traffic area, with plenty of ATMs at one's disposal. If you're shelling out 100 bucks plus for a meal, then the 1.50 service charge isn't really much at all.

I suppose there is a notion that a few more customers would frequent a place if it wasn't cash-only, but it seems like that would be really low on the list of things that would draw people to a restaurant.

FWIW, the very popular, always packed and long-lived NYC steakhouse Peter Luger is cash-only. I'm sure there are others.

"A culture's appetite always springs from its poor" - John Thorne

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I know one thing, those cash only places are definitely placing themselves in a position to be heavily scrutinized by IRS, so they'd better be keeping some seriously tight records. In the early days post storm, it was one thing to be cash only and I get it for small spots like Casamento's who also operate seasonally. Random restaurants that operate "cash only" are conspicuous IMHO and. P.S. I used to work for the IRS Criminal Investigation Division.

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It seems to me that plenty of restaurants accept credit cards and have no problems accounting for them. Perhaps if more restaurants had shown a reluctance to deal with credit cards, it would not be such an annoyance, but as it stands, showing up to a restaurant to find that it is cash-only is irritating. It may be a minor irritation, but it certainly gets on my nerves.

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There are a couple of restaurants I like to go that are cash only, in fact, I can think of about 4 right off the top of my head. None of them are high dollar. So if I am going, I try to make sure I will not embarrass myself. If there are 4 of us, the bill can get on up to $60 or $70. And I have no problem having a hundred in my pocket.

As to the merchants not accepting cards, those fees add up over the course of a year. Especially for small operations who are on a tight budget already. And banks can change the fees structure at their whim to benefit their own pocketbooks screwing the merchants.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I actually have respect for places that keep it cash-only (some of my favorite places don't take plastic). Just goes to show that you can run a business the old-fashioned way, even in the present day, whatever the reasons. When I discovered that Camellia Grill took plastic, it was a bit sad (though I admit that I paid w/debit card on my last few visits).

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I noticed that quite a few 'no cc' restaurants do take checks. They've got that check-screening service that seems to keep bad checks to a minimum.

I asked a local restaurant owner about it and she said that she only gets two or three bad checks a year that she doesn't get paid for and that's way less than the credit card charges she was having to pay.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I noticed that quite a few 'no cc' restaurants do take checks.  They've got that check-screening service that seems to keep bad checks to a minimum.

I asked a local restaurant owner about it and she said that she only gets two or three bad checks a year that she doesn't get paid for and that's way less than the credit card charges she was having to pay.

Good point. Maybe I should start carrying a checkbook.

A few comments to the above:

Sam: It's New Orleans, a down hood is never more than a few blocks away. :laugh:

David: In New Orleans, lots of restaurants are not in high traffic areas. There are still lots of places in residential neighborhoods.

I'd say my annoyance threshold is about $60. If a place costs more than that for 2 people, then I want the option to use plastic. More importantly to the restaurants, that's about the threshold where I'll limit my spending to make sure that I don't come up short. No matter how much money I've got in my pocket, I pay a lot more attention to the prices at cash only places.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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  • 1 month later...

I'm going to drag this topic back from the brink for another complaint about cash-only places...

I'm thinking about going to Mandina's tonight, and I've never been. Knowing that it's cash-only, I have vainly searched for their entree prices, coming up with nothing at all. If a place isn't going to take my credit cards, at the very least they need to let me know how much cash I need to bring!

Ughhhh! I'm sticking with my abhorrence of cash-only places. It's going to take a lot more convincing to change my mind on this one.

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It's possible that the situation isn't so dire. This is very much an American problem...I don't mean that restaurants are cash-only, I mean the complaining about it. Call first to find out, or Google, or just assume the worst and bring cash. We do it every day across the Atlantic. If you disagree with a restaurant's cash-only policy, don't go there...problem solved.

Edited by markemorse (log)
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I'm going to drag this topic back from the brink for another complaint about cash-only places...

I'm thinking about going to Mandina's tonight, and I've never been.  Knowing that it's cash-only, I have vainly searched for their entree prices, coming up with nothing at all.  If a place isn't going to take my credit cards, at the very least they need to let me know how much cash I need to bring!

Ughhhh!  I'm sticking with my abhorrence of cash-only places.  It's going to take a lot more convincing to change my mind on this one.

Well, that took about nine seconds.

Plus, with a cash only joint, it's ten times quicker to get out after the check comes than when you flash plastic. Just drop the cash and roll.

Slightly relevant: this article makes me want to pay for everything in cash. Also wear shades and a broad brimmed hat.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Well, that took about nine seconds. 

Plus, with a cash only joint, it's ten times quicker to get out after the check comes than when you flash plastic. Just drop the cash and roll. 

Huh? I'm not sure what the point is here (and no matter what Frommers says, Mandina's does not take plastic).

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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Well, that took about nine seconds. 

Plus, with a cash only joint, it's ten times quicker to get out after the check comes than when you flash plastic. Just drop the cash and roll. 

Huh? I'm not sure what the point is here (and no matter what Frommers says, Mandina's does not take plastic).

The point is that, in the age of the Internet (not to mention the telephone) it's possible to get a feel for the cost of virtually any restaurant of note in America. I googled the restaurant and got a description and got a rough feel for the price range in about nine seconds.

The (more general) point of the second comment was that in a crowded restaurant, it's easier to deal with cash than a credit card because once the check is dropped (assuming you're not one of those people who figures tips to the penny) you can just drop your cash and go, rather than waiting for a harried server to notice you're ready, grab the check, process it and return it.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I don't mind no credit cards, but I get pissed if there is not a prominent sign stating that fact. (This happened to me once, and I was not amused.) I think the customer does deserve at least that much. We're so used to paying for everything with a CC that it's kind of a "shock to the system" to be told "we don't accept credit cards."

And I do wonder -- are the restaurants' savings reflected in their prices? I'm sure that most restaurants take the CC costs into account, like the rent and everything else, and the price of dinner or whatever covers it. If I'm in a place that won't accept credit cards, I'd want them to be a bit cheaper than other places of the same type.

(What's a snowball stand?)

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Well, that took about nine seconds. 

Plus, with a cash only joint, it's ten times quicker to get out after the check comes than when you flash plastic. Just drop the cash and roll. 

Huh? I'm not sure what the point is here (and no matter what Frommers says, Mandina's does not take plastic).

The point is that, in the age of the Internet (not to mention the telephone) it's possible to get a feel for the cost of virtually any restaurant of note in America. I googled the restaurant and got a description and got a rough feel for the price range in about nine seconds.

The (more general) point of the second comment was that in a crowded restaurant, it's easier to deal with cash than a credit card because once the check is dropped (assuming you're not one of those people who figures tips to the penny) you can just drop your cash and go, rather than waiting for a harried server to notice you're ready, grab the check, process it and return it.

Sorry. I got the second point. I didn't mean to quote it.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I don't mind no credit cards, but I get pissed if there is not a prominent sign stating that fact. (This happened to me once, and I was not amused.) I think the customer does deserve at least that much. We're so used to paying for everything with a CC that it's kind of a "shock to the system" to be told "we don't accept credit cards."

And I do wonder -- are the restaurants' savings reflected in their prices? I'm sure that most restaurants take the CC costs into account, like the rent and everything else, and the price of dinner or whatever covers it. If I'm in a place that won't accept credit cards, I'd want them to be a bit cheaper than other places of the same type.

(What's a snowball stand?)

I think that's a good point. There is no arguing that credit cards are the norm. Restaurants need to prominently let people know if it's cash only.

Regarding the snowball questions, check this piece that I wrote for Daily Gullet (click).

I don't find that restaurants pass on the savings to customers, but I guess that's hard to judge.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I'm going to drag this topic back from the brink for another complaint about cash-only places...

I'm thinking about going to Mandina's tonight, and I've never been.  Knowing that it's cash-only, I have vainly searched for their entree prices, coming up with nothing at all.  If a place isn't going to take my credit cards, at the very least they need to let me know how much cash I need to bring!

Ughhhh!  I'm sticking with my abhorrence of cash-only places.  It's going to take a lot more convincing to change my mind on this one.

Well, that took about nine seconds.

Plus, with a cash only joint, it's ten times quicker to get out after the check comes than when you flash plastic. Just drop the cash and roll.

Slightly relevant: this article makes me want to pay for everything in cash. Also wear shades and a broad brimmed hat.

While it was very clever of you to point out that a site could give me an idea of what the prices are like, telling me what one of my dishes might cost hardly tells me how much cash I need to come prepared with. How about apps, desserts, drinks, etc? What if 8 of the entrees are 35 dollars and one is 14? How exactly does telling me that the range of prices is $14-$35 help me at all?

And if it's so fantastic to pay with cash, maybe we shouldn't have credit cards at all! Maybe it would make the world better to have a system with cash and cash alone! Oh wait, that's why credit cards were created in the first place...

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While it was very clever of you to point out that a site could give me an idea of what the prices are like, telling me what one of my dishes might cost hardly tells me how much cash I need to come prepared with.  How about apps, desserts, drinks, etc?  What if 8 of the entrees are 35 dollars and one is 14?  How exactly does telling me that the range of prices is $14-$35 help me at all? 

Most ranges of prices in guidebooks are useless. They don't give you enough info to know how much your meal will be.

The worst part of cash only places is worrying that you'll have enough bank to cover the bill. You may be able to get out quick if you have the cash, but if you're a little short then the extra trip to the ATM certainly slows down the exit.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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Cash only? No problem. My favorite BBQ place has a cash only policy too. I paid in loose pennies. They now will take my check. Actually, they'll take anybody's check. This brings up an interesting question... just how much cash do you carry? I will rarely have more than $40 to $50 in cash on me unless traveling by air. Even then I won't carry much more than $100. I carry ONE credit card and ONE debit card. I haven't had a problem I couldn't solve yet.

hvr :raz:

"Cogito Ergo Dim Sum; Therefore I think these are Pork Buns"

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