With the amount of red tape that comes with opening a cafe or restaurant, deciding on which payments service for your business to opt for is likely to be the last thing on your mind.

The task of maintaining high hygiene ratings, arranging the right levels of recurring stock deliveries and ensuring your perishables stay in-date are imperative in running a successful startup that specialises in food and drinks. But it’s worth taking some time to consider how your business plans to accept payments moving forward – it could ultimately have a noticeable impact on customer experience.

Here, we take a look at three of the most significant things to consider when setting up payments for your cafe or restaurant to ensure that everyone’s happy dining experience doesn’t end when they receive the bill.

 Location, location, location

Making sure that you’ve mastered the location of your business doesn’t end with the street that you decide to open your doors on. Where customers pay for their items can be an important decision to make, too – and this will heavily impact on the type of card reader you set up for your store.

PDQ (Process Data Quickly) terminals come in many forms and are trusted by food-and-drink based shops across the world. They’re non-intrusive, fast, lightweight some models are very portable. But would it benefit your business more to install a countertop PDQ or a mobile PDQ?

Here, it’s important to take a look at the kind of business that you’ve visualised. Typically, faster foods and drinks favour the static, countertop PDQ as a method of enabling customers to pay for their items. This is typically down to the easier preparation of items meaning that there’s less need for staff to visit tables and deliver food to waiting customers.

However, this isn’t always the case, and more European cafe-based outlets favour collecting payments at the table of customers. This approach may be seen as favourable to visitors, because of the increased level of customer service and less waiting for transactions at the counter at the counter.

Likewise, many restaurants favour using more portable PDQs, but a growing number of large food chains are beginning to operate with customers paying over the counter before taking their seats. This approach may seem counter-intuitive to traditional diners but may be seen as a refreshing method of avoiding the process of having to investigate their bill and pay at the end of their meal.


Take a moment for introspection into the sort of cafe or restaurant you would like to create, as well as the number of available staff for taking payments, to help shape your decisions – there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this conundrum, but with a little thought you’ll quickly learn the solution that’s best for you.

Manageable fees

Different card machines and payment processors bring different fees for transactions. Here, it’s a case of doing your homework and figuring out what’s best for yourself, your customers, and your business.

When it comes to managing the fees associated with using PDQ machines, Merchant Savvy is on hand to point us in the right direction thanks to their helpful charts that cover the costs associated with the hire and purchase of a typical card reader.

Countertop-based PDQ devices generally cost between £10-50 per month to rent, while purchasing options range from £200 to £800 depending on the retailer and make of the model. This represents the cheapest option as far as traditional PDQs are concerned for businesses, with portable options weighing in at up to £80 per month and £1000 for full purchase. A fully mobile PDQ may be the most advanced option for businesses, but at £50-180 per month rental and £300-1,500 to buy, it represents a more premium option for startups.

Alternatively, many newer businesses are beginning to favour mobile card readers that process payments on a small terminal remotely. Mobile card readers like iZettle, SumUp and Square require no rental fees and cost just £20-80 to purchase. Transaction fees using the tools typically range from 1% to 3% depending on the provider and they make for a perfect portable asset for pop up shops and restaurants.

Payment flexibility

As the world becomes more interconnected, our payment methods have diversified. Could your business adapt to the growing number of Apple Pay users domestically? How about in the eventuality that crypto-payments become mainstream?

Flexibility when accepting payments is an excellent way of futureproofing your organisation for whatever twist might be waiting around the corner.

While many modern PDQs cater well to mobile payments, selecting the type of payment processor that’s right for you will require some introspection. If your cafe or restaurant is situated rurally then its requirements may be different to a location in a vibrant city suburb.

Fundamentally it pays to adapt your payment system to the needs of your customers. Whatever your business goals are, if you put your customer experience model first then you can rightfully expect to be handling plenty of payments as your business grows.