June 22, 2019


So this afternoon I stopped at a chain restaurant called Veggie Grill. This particular location is located on the Loop in Chicago. I’ve never been to one of these restaurants before, but the selection was good, I was able to make a healthy choice for my lunch, and the service staff was pleasant.

As I walked into the restaurant the first thing I noticed was all of the signs proclaiming that this particular location did not accept cash. They accept credit and debit cards only. The tech head in me assumed this also meant they accepted Apple Pay and the other contactless payment methods, but there were no payment terminals to be found; I had to pay with my credit card, and their point of sale system relied on the mag stripe on the back of the card.

A restaurant going cashless relying on 1950s technology seemed rather odd to me; especially when mag stripes have pretty much gone away everywhere else in the world and over the past few years the United States has been glacially moving forward to adopt better, more secure technology.

This cashless payment requirement got me wondering, why is this particular location cashless? The signs all over the store seem to indicate other locations in the chain accept cash. What made this store unique?

The location doesn’t seem to be in a particularly dangerous area of Chicago, after all, it’s on the Loop, and ultimately anything can happen anywhere, I can’t imagine that a restaurant proclaiming themselves as “Veggie Grill” would choose to locate in an undesired socioeconomic climate. Yeah, there’s always a chance someone is going to try to grab cash from the cash register, but it doesn’t seem to be anymore likely here versus other places I’ve been in Chicago.

Then I got to wondering if this was a way to keep homeless people out of the restaurant. A homeless person, if they’re able to purchase a meal to begin with, is most likely going to purchase a meal with cash. Those looking for handouts are going to look for handouts regardless of what the signs on the door say. Yet, I can’t help but think the cashless approach is a deterrent to receiving visits from homeless folks.

Maybe I should start handing out gift cards instead of packs of peanut butter crackers wrapped in dollar bills.

I’m the first person to want technology to take us forward in any way that it can, as long as for it’s for the good of the people, all the people. Technological advancements that are designed to segregate the haves from the have nots are rarely advancements in good faith.

I look forward to the day when we have replicators producing whatever we need for whomever needs it. In the meantime, let’s keep advancing technology to make it safe, secure, and convenient.

For everyone!