Here's a new local restaurant I will never eat at:

This is insanity, and I do not like where this is going.

Split Bread does not accept cash. It's credit/debit only, and like another recently launched chain, The Melt, there are QR codes and an app involved too.
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63 Responses:

  1. Qtrnevermore says:

    "san francisco, where we feed you, house you, and maybe entertain you if you're the 1%."
    the thought makes me sick, but we know it's happening... sadly.

    • James says:

      Because disenfranchised San Franciscans have brainwashed each other to think that the best way to effect change is to go outside and pick a fight with the cops. Instead of filing papers with elections a court clerks and walking precincts. Until that changes, things aren't getting better.

  2. Plord says:

    "This note is legal tender for all debts public and private"

    I reckon they can get fucked...

    • jwz says:

      If they have not yet agreed to sell you anything, then there's no debt.

      • Karellen says:

        Wait, do you pay your restaurant bill before you eat then?

        • NotTheBuddha says:

          Similar to a deli.

        • jwz says:

          Uh, in the kind of place where you order at a counter, yes, you do.

          • Karellen says:

            Ah. Got confused. The use of the word "restaurant" without any other type of description or qualifiers made me think it was a proper restaurant, rather than a cafe, sandwich shop or fast-food joint - any of which would probably be more descriptive.

            Also "You can order in person from one of the hosts, or by scanning the QR code at any table in the restaurant and punching your order into your smartphone." makes it sound like you order at the table from a waiter. ("Host"? Seriously? Are they trying to sound completely up their own arse? Or is that a regional thing?)

            • Elusis says:

              That sound you hear is the sound of the last few above minimum-wage American jobs being sucked right up the arsehole of the 1%.

    • NotTheBuddha says:

      What JWZ said, plus If you choose to stand on the "legal tender" technicality, you're also choosing to forgo any change so you better bring plenty of ones.

      • nooj says:

        Well, similar to drink and duty-free sales on board airplanes (and most everyone else), they don't have to accept cash at all; they have to accept U.S. dollars, but not in all forms. So even ones may not work.

        • jwz says:

          They don't have to accept anything. They are under no obligation to do business with you at all.

        • What "legal tender" actually means is that, if I owe you a debt, and I offer to pay you in legal tender, and you refuse to take my payment-in-legal-tender, then you can't subsequently take me to court for failing to pay that debt.

          For instance, if say that I will only pay you in badger corpses, then you can refuse to accept them and take me to court for failing to pay the debt. However, if I offer to pay you in legal tender, then if you refuse to accept that then that's now your problem and the judicial system will tell you to either accept it or bugger off.

          In most jurisdictions, it's perfectly okay for me to pay you with something other than legal tender provided that we both agree on it and we both agree on the value.

          Whether something is legal tender or not is completely irrelevant except where there exists a debt. You don't have to accept legal tender from me under any circumstances.

  3. Austinite says:

    How do they launder their money from extracurricular activities if they're not using cash? They're really making it much more difficult for themselves.

    • jwz says:

      Presumably the VCs told them that the Way New money is in forcing you to download an app and selling you to spammers.

    • Ian says:

      I know someone who worked for the UK's tax service. Amongst her tasks was sitting outside restaurants counting customers to compare with their declared turnover. She reckons that the vast majority of restaurants cheat on their tax returns because the margin between survival and being Yet Another Failed Restaurant is so tight.

      Doing away with cash = you've less chance of survival, because it becomes so much harder to cheat and you're paying more to get the money into your account.

      • Andrew says:

        to say nothing of lost business from customers who don't want to pay with those newfangled credit cards and whatnot

        • gryazi says:

          I wonder if there's any wacky insurance savings involved for not holding cash on the premises.

          [Since, regardless of the insecurity of swipe cards, the liability is generally eaten by other parties in that food-chain.]

          If it's legal under the 'no agreement to do business' concept (never thought about it that way - questionable legal-tender arguments are usually encountered in the form of gas stations that refuse to take large bills over here, and I guess that also then becomes permissible if you have to pay before you pump), that sounds unfortunately convenient for a place operating in "urban" surroundings.

          Nerdbrain wonders how much work it'd take to make 'cash' one-way digitizable - carry anonymously, but scan and shred at the register, not unlike how 'check images' were retrofitted onto that system. (Checks are also horribly insecure, though.) Not like many people are working on that outside of the shadow economy because track-and-traceability is clearly the new hotness.

  4. Helyx says:

    "scanning the QR code at any table in the restaurant and punching your order into your smartphone. "

    So it's an Automat with data mining.

    Cuz that is clearly a thing we need.

    JWZ, when can we look forward to scanning a list of QR codes at the DNA bar, using an app to send them (hopefully, knowing cell service in SOMA) to the bartender 6 feet away, having them make the drink, and then using the app (or if you want to be edgy, a whole different app!) to notify us that our drink is ready and we can walk 6 feet to our half melted drink cuz you can neither hear nor feel your cell phone notify you?



  5. avogaro says:

    "kobe beef meatloaf" !!!
    "bacon aioli dipping sauce" !!!

  6. MattyJ says:

    I don't really want technology with my food.

    Though I have the same reaction when I go to a taco joint that is cash only. Fuck cash only, take a card. I think a no cash policy is stupid, but it makes me laugh.

    • James C. says:

      Small places are often cash only because it costs them to accept debit or credit. Those services are provided by big companies that charge some hefty rates, and a taco stand probably can’t afford them. For the same reason you see places where debit/credit purchases have a minimum, because the transaction service costs them more than the sale is worth. So if they won’t take your plastic, it may be because they can’t actually afford it.

      • jwz says:

        For the same reason you see places where debit/credit purchases have a minimum, because the transaction service costs them more than the sale is worth.

        Fun fact: the agreement with the credit card companies includes a stipulation that you aren't allowed to have a minimum. Their contract says, "Yes, we know you will lose money on small transactions. If you want to do business with us at all, you will suck it up."

        Banks are bastards, film at 11.

        • Nick Lamb says:

          In some countries those clauses have no legal effect and the US joined those countries in 2010 according to Google. Did SF pass its own law giving the power back to the card companies?

      • MattyJ says:

        In the age of Square this is no longer the case.

        People selling four dollars worth of ice cream out of a shipping crate on Octavia are more than happy to take my debit card. Some food trucks take cards. "Bank charges" are just not a factor any more. When I hear this excuse from businesses, what it actually means is 'We are lazy' or 'We like to keep some money under the table.'

        Heck, as an individual selling a 10 year old PCI graphics card online, I can accept a credit card payment through Paypal with minimal hassle and minimal off-the-top charges.

        I wouldn't advocate or even think we will ever have a truly cashless society, but here in 2012 it behooves any business to accept any form of payment so they don't lock out a whole segment of customers.

        • James C. says:

          Try actually running your own business and accepting credit and debit cards before you fire off uninformed opinions. And did you seriously just recommend using PayPal?

          • MattyJ says:

            I didn't recommend PayPal. Just making the point that I, a private citizen selling junk on E-bay, can accept credit cards with little to no hassle or 'bank fees'.

            My opinion isn't uninformed. Sure, I don't own a business myself but I know people that do.

            iPhone or Android, Square, spend 10 minutes setting it up, boom. They take less than 3% of the transaction and that's it. Any idiot can do it.

            Intuit and others offer similar systems.

            "It's hard" or "It's too expensive" are bullshit excuses for laziness.

            Like I mentioned, if Joe Hipster selling foie gras tamales out of a truck can take cards using his iPhone, these traditional excuses for not doing it don't hold up. This is a problem that has been solved.

            • Ben Brockert says:

              3% of revenue is a significant portion of profit in any competitive market.

              Would you say you're not ignorant about business, some of your best friends are business owners?

              • MattyJ says:

                3% of revenue and 3% of profit are two different things. You insinuate they are the same. If your margins are that low you're probably operating at a loss anyway.

                Turning away a customer because they want to use a card is bad business. I shouldn't have to explain the ramifications of preventing people from spending money in your shop (ripple effect, word of mouth, customer returning with cash one day, etc.)

                A credit card company (which are people, BTW) clearly killed your dog and you'll hate the idea of plastic no matter what. Tired of you trying to get personal instead of actually arguing about the actual subject matter. So I'm invoking Goodwin's law and going home.

                You know who didn't take credit cards? Nazis.

                • Ben Brockert says:

                  I did not insinuate that they are the same, you just don't have very good reading comprehension.

                  I also use a credit card for almost every transaction. I was arguing from a position of "you're ignorant", not one of "I hate credit cards".

          • gryazi says:

            PayPal is still pushing their swipe-dongle that would work for the theoretical taco-cart until such time as the expensive-ass phone it's attached to gets destroyed by cooking mess.

            As I understand it, aside from the impressive-but-at-least-small-purchases-don't-lose-money cut, the big scream everyone has about them now is that they now lock new merchant accounts out of redeeming _any_ of their income for the first N months. Which is insane if true. Especially because they could've rigged that crap as a promotion, 'look how our 50% reserve requirement drops as you stay in business!'

            As far as I can tell, their current business model is 'get some press in Wired a year or two ago about undercutting the major CC processors, then start changing the rules fast enough enough that even your loyal users can't keep up.'

  7. Owen says:

    This reminds me of how I felt when I first went to an Apple store to buy a copy of Final Cut Pro (in a box!). I couldn't see any cash registers so I wandered around for about five minutes before finally asking a salesperson "how do I buy this??". Why fix something that isn't broken? Humans have been making transactions in stores, stalls, and markets for a few thousand years, and I think the POS model has worked out ok.

    • Leolo says:

      Yes, but TECHNOLOGY!

    • NotTheBuddha says:

      We don't have Apple stores here; how did you buy it?

      • Owen says:

        The salespeople have little portable credit card scanners (at the time, I noticed they weren't iphones!), so while they check you out they can try to sell you on upgrades and other junk. Getting a paper receipt was also a hassle, the guy had send a print job to the underside of one of the tables where there are receipt printers tucked underneath.

        • Lun Esex says:

          From the retailer's perspective there's fewer lost sales due to people seeing a huge queue at a register and deciding to come back later or buy online.

          From the shopper's perspective: No need to ever wait in a long queue.

          Since Apple Stores have a higher sales-per-area ratio than any other retailer in existence it makes even more sense for them than anyone else to make every employee into a self-contained roaming register. The traditional POS model in their stores would simply be horribly broken at this point. They'd either have ever-increasing queues at a small number of registers as the day goes on, or the number of register positions would have to keep increasing so much their sales would take a hit due to a lack of space for customers to see and try the products. (Or they'd need ever-increasing sized stores, with related increases in rent, plus difficulty fitting them into malls and downtown shopping districts.)

          To see it another way, each Apple Store is like an encapsulation of an entire bustling bazaar or marketplace, filled with individual retailers. They just happen to all be selling stock out of the same supply.

          • Owen says:

            this is way off-topic, but I disagree so much. Apple Stores aren't "filled" with salespeople, they're filled with people with no intention to buy playing with laptops and people lined up at the genius bar. Their "sales-per-area" ratio is high because Apple products are expensive, not because their volume is high. And on days of actual high-volume demand (eg iphone release dates), they encourage long lines so they can get some free press on the tv news.

            As for "related increases in rent," given the opulent multi-story glass cubes in downtown New York and Boston, I'd say money is no object.

            Lastly, there's no practical reason they couldn't have a couple standard registers supplementing their roving salespeople. Customers who need to pay by cash or check could line up for the register, and all the clever hipsters would know they could just buy something from a salesperson. The only reason to get rid of registers in this manner is because they detract from the unified 2001 vibe they are trying to create.

            • Nick says:

              You're nuts. Why are you so irritated? You like standing in line? We can debate the definition of "filled" but I guarantee you there's more than one or two salespeople, and that's more than the number of registers in a lot of stores. You want to buy something? walk up to a sales person and tell them you want to buy it. What a novel idea. I can walk up to any employee and do what I came to do. Waiting in line sucks.

              • gryazi says:

                Couple "legit" human reasons for this:

                Some folks perceive a big 'creepy' factor in any place with roaming salespeople. Pretty much every time I've had to deal with an actual Apple store has actually been surprisingly good and hands-off in that respect (is that a specific policy now, or just the absence of policy forcing everyone to play used-car-salesman?) but the prior era of 'consumer electronics retailers' ruined it for everyone.

                That forced 'intimacy' can also seem to be targeted at the kind of customer who likes to snap their fingers and shout "Garçon!" Which is part of the whole 'aspirational' luxury thing they're putting forth, but just standing around in a place designed for the customer to be a giant prick can rankle. (Says the severe social-phobe.)

                Finally, as someone who was close to Apple would point out, it's unfamiliar - so while you gain some floor space, you also daze the customers, and introduce them to new problems like "There are five people all standing around with nothing to do here, which one do I bother to pay for this shit?" For someone with a huge aversion to the possibility of pushy sales tactics, anything that seems designed to throw me off raises my guard.

                I wouldn't even say they should change - I'm not exactly their target market, and unless I need something quick I just buy online to avoid the whole retail 'experience' - but just felt like describing the perspective of someone who grits his teeth at the thought. Computers are tools and sometimes you just wish you could pick up a replacement keyboard without even having to think about the theme-park crap.

                • gryazi says:

                  It occurs to me that the apparent assumptions as to the clientele would be roughly equivalent to Victoria's Secret bagging their merchandise through a mannequin's groin because they heard women like babies.

                  Really that teeth-gritting if you're hypersensitive to it.

            • Lun Esex says:

              Apple Stores have an average of 112 employees per store:

              Apple Store Operational Economics | asymco

              This appears to be five times as many as at other, similarly sized stores.

              With two shifts per day in the average store, that's 56 (!) active employees at any given time. If just one third of them have handheld checkout systems that's the equivalent of 18 roaming registers per store. Another retailer's store of the same size as an average Apple Store would have normally have what, 2 to 4 fixed register positions?

              As for the cost of their products, Apple makes a lot more of their money now off of smart phones that go for $200 up front (carrier subsidized, of course, but that's the same as their competitors) and $500 tablets than off $1000-2000+ computers.

              And saying "money is no object" when discussing retail is just... I don't even...

              (n.b. those few, huge flagship stores count for, at most, about 2% of their 361 total stores. Most of the rest are in malls. Mall retail is a bitch.)

          • Kowh says:

            From the shopper's perspective: No need to ever wait in a long queue.

            I detest shopping at Apple stores for this reason. Technically you're not waiting in line, but you're still waiting, and you end up waiting longer because without lineups there's no easy way to see who has been waiting to check out and people keep inadvertently butting in.

            • Lun Esex says:

              Would you really not detest shopping there if they replaced the 12-20 salespeople acting as roaming registers with a bank of fixed registers and a queue that's constantly 12+ people deep?

              (Expected response: "No, then I'd just see the queue and go someplace else."
              ...and that's why they don't do it that way.)

              • Kowh says:

                For me the ideal is single queue, multiple cash, like MEC does locally. Yes it results in a scary long looking lineup, but it moves faster and you're never stuck behind an old lady paying in pennies.

                Alas, people are illogical and scary looking lineups hurt sales more than wasting time in less efficient checkouts.

                • Lun Esex says:

                  Not that I necessarily agree with you about how well a single queue feeding into multiple registers would work in this particular circumstance (otherwise it's my preferred setup, too), but:

                  Funny that companies would optimize for perception rather than reality.

                  • jwz says:

                    False dichotomy. They optimize for profit.

                  • Lun Esex says:

                    False dichotomy. They optimize for profit.

                    Well, yeah. Oblique/subtle reference intended regarding arguments about the company in question over-valuing perception of non-measurable qualities rather than specific figures in relation to its competitors (who tend to rely on "looks good on paper" spec lists).

                    But anyway: the Internet, subtlety, twain, never-shall-meet, etc...

  8. pavel_lishin says:

    > You can order in person from one of the hosts, or by scanning the QR code at any table in the restaurant and punching your order into your smartphone.

    So, how long until someone starts swapping the QR code stickers around?

    I mostly just want to see the security camera footage at 2x speed, set to Yackety Sax.

  9. Bellfry says:

    Italy recently passed a law that makes cash transactions higher than 1000 EUR illegal - you have to pay via electronic means in that case so that they can track you. Along they introduced a new tax-fraud surveillance technology named SERPICO. English-language media don't seem to have much to report about it though.

    It's even more bizarre in Sweden. Apparently there is a not-too-weak organization called "Kontanfritt Nu" which lobbies for the complete abolition of cash money. Of course, it's all done in the name of fighting tax evasion and unreported employment.

    I find it somewhat worrying how many people do not realize the importance of informational opacity for the persistence of our more or less free societies.

    • Edouard says:

      I so rarely have cash that I go months without paying for anything with anything but my (I believe you call it a) debit card. And that's more or less been the case for the last 15 years or more. Most people in New Zealand will be the same.

      I understand the advantage of cash if you don't want the possibility of being traced by your transactions, but having spent more than a decade living in what is a effect a cashless society, actual cash is just a pain. Retailers are also happy to have much less cash on premises too - less incentive for theft.

      • Ben Brockert says:

        That's standard in the US as well for many people above the median. But in both countries there are a lot of people who are part of the informal economy and prefer to use cash, whether for paying a babysitter, evading taxes on tip income, or buying drugs or other contraband. The influence on retail is a relatively unimportant part of it.

        That it is possible for some people to never use cash doesn't mean that the existence of cash has no value to anyone else.

    • gryazi says:

      I really, honestly wonder about this. Forcing everyone to actually play by the rules (because Big Brother is watching) seems to force things to logical conclusions... so either you get the jackboots out or some powerful motivation to reprogram Big Brother to be fair and egalitarian (and, say, criminalize fewer transactions that people actually want to perform?).

      I'm still trying to chomp through Graeber's ideas on debt as the real transactional currency, too (money is, after all, just a means of accounting for and settling socially-created obligations) but haven't made it very far yet.

      If currency expired or we had regular debt-amnesty jubilees once or twice a lifetime, would shit actually be any worse than the current mess? Would it, perhaps, fix some of the incentives to do things that have no human-useful effect other than 'gaming the system' to improve a balance sheet?

      [Yet I agree that anything that imposes any greater accounting burden than 'get paid, go home' is significantly a pain in the ass timesuck for people actually trying to accomplish things.]

      • NotTheBuddha says:

        If currency expired or we had regular debt-amnesty jubilees once or twice a lifetime, would shit actually be any worse than the current mess?

        Wouldn't that crash the debt markets periodically as well cause devaluation in upscale goods as the people who end up with fractional equity in the collateral sell it off?

        • gryazi says:

          Man, it took me a minute to parse whether that was a troll or an idea (not being a dick, just fun parsing economicese).

          We just crashed a debt market just fine without an amnesty. The original thesis as to the jubilees was that it was better to crash the market from time to time (forcing the lenders to assume the risk they took) than have the majority of the populace starving and/or coming after their leadership with pointy sticks. (Of course, in the old days, you needed those serfs to work the harvest... These days, when the peasant itself is the 'product' - CNN, FOX and Budweiser need 'a market' - you can't blame the 1% for thinking it'd make more sense to just hang onto their cash rather than pay it out just in case it trickles back to them in their investments.)

          Money works best when it's circulating, because that means there's a greater chance someone's going to be able to buy lunch with it - which tends to keep it circulating. Expiring currency would certainly force some adjustments in behavior in that regard (or just imagine tax being due in the amount of all income not spent in a year, same impact). Devaluing the fuck out of upscale goods means that suddenly people can afford the goods (such as a roof over their head?) and start engaging in commerce again - this is bad how, except for the holders of the equity who took the risk and are now cashing out 'only' in the amount of the 'actual' value the market could bear?

          Separate but equal crackpot idea: Why do we tend to commonly have primary individual providers for medical and legal services, but lending is practically faceless? Probably because people don't borrow as much when they know they're being scrutinized and lenders might be horrified to give it out if they actually met their customers... But having set the system up that way, suddenly we're doing all the responsibility-assessments after the fact, in what might just be a song-and-dance to keep the value of real estate from plummeting if every foreclosure hit the market at once. (Holy crap am I sick of trying to help people fill out HAMP paperwork, and as one of those ornery Gen Y types, fuck everyone with equity who'd then be underwater, I find it somewhat ridiculous that I'm unlikely to be able to acquire a box of sheetrock and the ability to pay property tax on it without going in hock for a decade of income.)

  10. Chris Brent says:

    The Melt QR code BS really annoys me too. I'm sure Kaplan did it to make his tech investors feel all warm and fuzzy about spend 45 gazillion dollars on a bad grilled cheese sandwich and some canned soup. Why oh why would I "order" with a QR code when I still have to go to the register to pay! And what happened to the magical, "You'll get your sandwich in 60 seconds." I've tried it twice and they're just another badly laid out, over priced, fast food joint. Bah humbug.

  11. Jon Wood says:

    > It's credit/debit only,

    Well, that's not so-

    > and like another recently launched chain, The Melt, there are QR codes and an app involved too.


    At least it'll probably be out of business in a few months.

  12. Kyzer says:

    Perhaps they're doing this to be categorised as a "small self-service restaurant" and avoid having their ice-cream cones confiscated.