Why do some restaurants and bars still accept only cash?

Sixteen months into the COVID-19 pandemic, another question might be which restaurants and bars no longer accept cash at all, with cash transactions recently halted altogether in some establishments, coinciding with the rise of hand sanitizer.

Yet despite a decades-long trend - from cash to credit and debit cards to digital wallet services, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Google Wallet - cash is still king at some local haunts. There are several reasons:

  1. Transaction Fees: Restaurants and bars look to cut costs in any way they can. The one to three percent fees that banks charge on non-cash transactions can add up to a significant number at the end of each month.

  2. Fees from ATMs: On the flip side, many establishments provide onsite cash machines and net a small percentage of the fees charged - a double win.

  3. Because They Can: If a place can consistently fill seats with customers paying cash, then the owner might not see any reason to use plastic. If people stopped going to Fast Eddie’s because of the cash-only policy, there’s a good chance that owner Eddie Sholar, Jr. would change it (though there are multiple ATMs on site).

Advantages to Using Cash for Consumers

From the consumer’s standpoint, there are also advantages to using cash, as noted in a previous column. It’s quick when paying a tab at a busy bar or during a rushed lunchtime. You’re back at the office while your poor server is still deciphering a tableful of separate checks.

You’re hassle-free at the cash-only places and head of the line when the charge machine goes down. Oh, and ask any server if they’d prefer their tip electronically or in cash money. I’ve said before that cash is liquid, secure, immediate, there are no fees (or strings) attached, and, best of all, it’s private.

Today, however, there are also downsides for restaurants and bars to accepting only cash such as theft deterrence and reconciliation time increases. Read more>

Among the remaining cash-only bastions in St. Louis (with checks and Venmo also accepted in some cases):


  • Carl’s Drive In

  • Courtesy Diner (all three locations)

  • Dave’s Diner (all three locations)

  • Fast Eddie’s Bon-Air

  • Friendly’s Sports Bar and Grill – Tower Grove South location

  • Old St. Louis Chop Suey

  • Olivette Diner (cash or check)

  • Pizza-A-Go-Go (cash or check)

  • U-City Grill

  • World’s Fair Donuts (cash or Venmo)

Bars, Taverns and Breweries:

  • CBGB

  • Palomino Lounge

  • Pop’s Blue Moon

  • Stella Blues

  • Tick Tock Tavern

  • Trophy Room

Put cash to work for your business. Find out if you qualify for a FREE ATM!

Originally published by St. Louis Magazine, Aug. 6, 2021

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