Shake Shack Founders Stand By Cashless Move

Shake Shack

Danny Meyer is defending his restaurant group’s decision to test out cashless transactions, saying they are not looking to exclude prospective guests.

Meyer owns Union Square Hospitality Group, and five of its restaurants are now cashless: Daily Provisions, Martina, Caffe Marchio, Vini e Fritti and Tacocina. In addition, Shake Shack had previously experimented with going cashless at one location.

Despite criticism over the decision, Meyer revealed that more of the group’s establishments will eventually make the move to cashless payments.

“We know that some have raised concerns about the socioeconomic implications of operating a cashless business,” Meyer said in a blog post. “By not accepting cash, a restaurant may be excluding prospective guests who do not have a bank account. And we might be inconveniencing guests who simply don’t have their credit/debit on them at the time. That’s certainly not our aim.”

Meyer said the company has decided to go cashless for safety reasons, as well as improved efficiency for customers. He also added that “we’re unaware of any federal law that requires private businesses to accept [cash], and with the growing ubiquity of plastic and mobile payment, many businesses are choosing to eliminate cash from their operation entirely.”

For now, though, Shake Shack will not be making the transition to cashless. Last month, in light of customer feedback, it was reported that the burger chain has decided not to continue with a plan to have fully cashless restaurants.

“Some of the things we’ve clearly seen is that our guests do often want to pay with cash,” CEO Randy Garutti said on the company’s May 3 earnings conference call. “In the first rollout at Astor Place, we did not accept cash at all, and there are people who have told us very clearly ‘we want to pay with cash.’”

While the company is planning to add cashiers to cashless stores, it hasn’t completely given up on kiosks: Garutti plans to have about “about four or five” Shake Shacks with kiosks prior to the close of the second quarter.