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10 Best Restaurant POS Systems

September 25, 2018

9:22 am

The right POS system can streamline every operation of your restaurant, bar, or cafe, from orders and payments to your entire ingredient inventory.

Here’s everything to know about the best restaurant POS systems available today.

In This Guide

What Is a Restaurant POS System?

A POS or “Point of Sale” system refers to the software and hardware used by a business primarily to record sales and track inventory.

The potential benefits of a POS have grown far beyond just that however, and a POS software will typically have a raft of industry-specific features. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the restaurant industry.

Why Do You Need a Restaurant POS System?

A good POS system will help any business thrive and grow, providing accurate and important data to base decisions off. But a restaurant will benefit especially from an industry-focused POS System.

Any business records sales, but a restaurant must also be able to accept reservations and know which orders were placed from which table. Any business tracks inventory, but a restaurant must track the amount and cost of the ingredients used in each dish, in addition to the amount and cost of the orders that are placed.

In addition, a high-quality restaurant POS can:

  • Help the kitchen and the servers interact quickly and easily
  • Help a manager track employees’ work hours and plan their future schedules
  • Log data from past weeks or months in order to create detailed reports about the restaurant’s long-term growth
  • Streamline the order process from start to finish, including accepting online orders and sending email receipts

The bottom line: A good restaurant POS centralizes all the processes of a restaurant, bar or cafe, allowing the manager to improve on what’s working and fix what’s not. It will pay for itself and then some.

Top Restaurant POS Software Features

While the best restaurant POS systems might include a handful of unique traits, they should also accomplish an array of the following top features.

  • Inventory Management — tracks orders and ingredients used
  • Inventory Alerts — sends automatic personalized notifications when specific ingredients need to be restocked soon
  • Employee Tracking — records which employee was operating which station, and at what time
  • Table Service — tracks which tables will receive which orders
  • Billing — accepts cash, card, and contactless payment
  • Loyalty Programs — offers deals and gift cards in order to attract repeat customers
  • Customer Engagement — collects and securely manages approved contact lists, such as email addresses or phone numbers, for customer marketing
  • Reservations — allows workers to track meal reservations weeks or months in advance
  • Online ordering — allows quick-service restaurants to let customers place orders online

While the features above are important to consider when picking out a POS for your restaurant, you should go beyond just the features. The best restaurant POS systems are also cost-effective, well reviewed, easy to use, and come with a professional customer support team.

Restaurant POS Hardware Accessories

Example of a Self-Service Kiosk

While the software powering a restaurant POS is the main element of a POS system, hardware is important as well. Here are some of the best physical POS accessories that will make your daily chores more manageable.

  • Touchscreen display — Quicker and more portable than a desktop computer for running software. iPads are most common, though other tablets or smartphones can be used as well.
  • Card readers for iPad — Cash tills aren’t enough any more. Tiny card readers the size of a quarter can be plugged into an iPad’s headphone jack. They’re often sold by POS vendors and might be included in a POS package. Larger countertop versions come as “cubes” rather than portable readers.
  • iPad stands and docks — A stand, typically designed to swivel so that customers can easily sign their bill, is a must. These are also usually sold by specific vendors.
  • Self-Service Kiosk — A larger stand, a receipt printer, and a large card reader can all serve as a kiosk for customers to check their orders out by themselves, cutting down on employee busywork.
  • Power supply — Don’t expect your iPad battery to outlast your customers: Invest in compact portable chargers.

How to Choose a POS System for Your Restaurant

Not every restaurant POS system is equal, and even a POS that offers all the right features might not be right for your specific business. Here are a few factors to consider, some of which you won’t find on most POS websites but remain relevant to your decision.

  • Your customers — The demographic of your audience determines what type of POS system they will embrace.
    • Age — Older customers might not understand or care about options like contactless payment or QR-code coupons.
    • Social expectations — A quick-service location might have a self-checkouts option, but a higher end restaurants would never give their servers iPads.
    • Digital adoption — Silicon Valley is packed with early adopters who want all the options, but restaurants on the Rust Belt can stick to a more compact POS with fewer features.
  • Customers with disabilities — A self-serve station might seem easier than an in-person order system, but might not be an accessible option for those with poor eyesight or limited mobility.
  • Your budget — Don’t overextend your business, especially if you plan to pay up front.
  • Your size — A single food truck and a sprawling restaurant have differing needs: The larger your restaurant, the more important your POS communication features become.
  • Future growth — As your total orders, order stations, or restaurant locations grow, the cost for your POS system will grow, even though the features it offers likely won’t. Choose a system that will be ready for your future needs.

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Best Restaurant POS Systems for 2019

Some of the POS systems below were designed specifically for restaurants. Others have added a dedicated restaurant edition to their main POS offering. The one thing they have in common is they’re all deserving of being named one of the best restaurant POS systems on the market.

Here are TechCo’s top picks for restaurant POS:

Continue scrolling for more detailed reviews of each restaurant POS vendor, or click on the names above to jump directly to the vendor you’re interested in.

TouchBistro POS

1. TouchBistro

Best all around

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $69/month

As the name hints, TouchBistro was envisioned as a restaurant POS from the very start. A versatile interface and strong inventory/staff management options make this a feature-rich restaurant POS bolstered by its support team and price tag.

Key Features


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
The Toast POS system screen

2. Toast POS

Best for Android users

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $79/month

Toast POS supports Android tablets and phones and does not support iOS, for those Android lovers who are tired of seeing the word “iPad” on this list. Better still, it wraps up all the needed features into an easy-to-understand interface: Sales, billing, inventory, layout management, analytics reports and loyalty programs are included.

Key Features

  • Supports Android
  • Offline Mode
  • Strong Menu Customization


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Lavu POS system

3. Lavu

Best for onboarding new service staff

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $69/month

Here’s your fix for the notoriously fast churn in the service industry: Lavu has great management options for onboarding and training new employees, streamlining a tough but essential aspect of running a business. Notable features include centralized menu, layout, and inventory management.

Key Features

  • Easy Onboarding
  • Open API
  • Contactless Payment Integration


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Square POS

With dedicated solutions for table service, counter service, bars & lounges, coffee shops, bakeries, and food trucks, Square is a common name in quick-service restaurants. While Square’s restaurant POS service costs a low $60/month, it also charges 2.6% + 10¢ on each transaction.

4. Square POS

Best for quick-service businesses

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $60/month

Key Features

  • Menu Customization
  • Layout Management
  • Strong Analytics


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Lightspeed POS

5. Lightspeed Restaurant

Best for third-party integrations

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $69 /month

A large library of integrations helps this iPad POS stand out as one of the more flexible restaurant services. Third-party apps can be easily plugged into Lightspeed, allowing customers to add features like loyalty programs and employee scheduling or letting customers tailor their POS to even more specific industries including hotels and ecommerce.  

Key Features

  • Tableside Ordering
  • Integration Library
  • Kitchen Display


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Revel POS

6. Revel

Best for chain restaurants

Editor Rating: 5 stars Price: $79/month

The Revel POS is designed to be a full restaurant POS system, managing finance and accounting in addition to sales, inventory, and staff. The company also offers dedicated solutions for bars and nightclubs as well as a pizza delivery-specific software that schedules and dispatches drivers.

Key Features

  • Offline Mode
  • Self-Checkout Supported
  • Driver Dispatch


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Clover POS system

7. Clover

Best for online operations

Editor Rating: 4.5 stars Price: Varies

Restaurants with a healthy online customer base need a POS system like Clover, that can handle online orders and delivery management. Clover also offers useful online integrations such as newsletter service Mailchimp and ecommerce company Shopify. Their suite of customer engagement features includes contact lists with options for promos, rewards, and private feedback.

Key Features

  • Online Order & Delivery
  • Customer Engagement
  • Strong Analytics


  • Free Trial
  • Limited Support Hours
  • Serves quick-service businesses
ShopKeep POS Analytics Dashboard

8. ShopKeep

Best for mobile-lovers

Editor Rating: 4.5 stars Price: $49/month

Shopkeep offers both iPad-only quick-serve systems and full restaurant systems, both of which have nicely designed, intuitive mobile app options. Even managers operating multiple locations can see it all from their phone. Features that are covered with both systems: Sales, ingredient inventory management, staff management, research reports, email marketing lists, and menu customization.

Key Features

  • Customer Marketing
  • Mobile App
  • Sales and Inventory


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Cake POS

9. Cake

Best complete package deal

Editor Rating: 4 stars Price: $138/month (software and hardware included)

A Guest Manager iOS app can be added to Cake’s basic POS software in order to allow online order management. Even without it, those with reservations can receive text alerts when their table is ready, potentially allowing them to hang out at a coffee shop next door while they wait, rather than ditch your restaurant.

Key Features

  • “Guest Manager” Add-on
  • Text Alerts
  • Offline Mode


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes
Breadcrumb POS system

10. Breadcrumb

Best for range of features

Editor Rating: 4 stars Price: $99/month

Breadcrumb’s feature-rich POS offers plenty of options that other POS systems don’t always have, including a training mode, offline functionality, bill splitting options, online order management and tableside ordering, in addition to sales and inventory tracking. As its foodie name implies, it’s designed by restaurateurs themselves. However, the $99/month Core service plan doesn’t offer some important features (notably inventory management and online ordering), and owners must pay the $249/month Pro plan to access the advanced features.

Key Features

  • Personalized Onboarding
  • Offline Mode
  • Bill Splitting


  • Free Trial
  • 24/7 Support
  • Serves all business sizes

Restaurant POS System Prices

The restaurant POS industry charges per-month costs that vary depending on the number of terminals and locations, and whether you’re only using software or need hardware as well. Typical POS prices start at between $69 and $99 per month for a single terminal.  

Given that costs can vary so much, how can you know which POS is right for your restaurant? First, consider how your business answers the following variables:

  • Quick service venue, mid-size business, or large layout?
  • Number of POS terminals needed?
  • Number of locations?
  • Unique features needed?

Next, you’ll need to reach out to the right POS vendors for a customized quote so you can compare the prices. For a quick one-minute jumpstart, try TechCo’s fast and easy quote collection form.

Collect and compare quotes from a range of POS system providers in just a minute.

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Adam is a writer with an interest in a variety of mediums, from podcasts to comic books to video essays to novels to blogging — too many, basically. He's based out of Seattle, and remains a staunch defender of his state's slogan: "sayWA." In his spare time, he recommends articles about science fiction on Twitter, @AdamRRowe

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