Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Appreciating Your Business as Long as it's Cash

     Some trends go hand in hand with a counter trend. Cash-only restaurants fall in that category. In a world that's all about virtual everything, including money -- you don't touch the stuff as much as you exchange it electronically -- it seems like cash-only restaurants are making a noticeable appearance.

      Like, for example, Crumbs in Parchment, a much publicized new restaurant in Miami's up and coming Design District. It has a trendy location, snazzy decor, mouthwatering menu, and its owner Michelle Bernstein owns another popular restaurant in the area called Sra. Martinez. But should you decide to check it out, be warned that this new hot spot doesn't take credit cards.

     I would have been extremely surprised and confused by this cash-only MO if I hadn't had an earlier exposure to this unthinkable occurrence.

       My daughter and I, strolling around the Columbia University neighborhood this past spring, stumbled into Tom's Restaurant while in search of a place likely to have chicken strips. It turned out that Tom's Restaurant, or rather its facade, is the shot that appears in every episode of Seinfeld, when the characters are getting together at the diner where they always get together. (I knew the facade was familiar from somewhere, but it wasn't until we stepped inside and saw all the Seinfeld memorabilia that I realized where we were, which was really pretty cool.)

      Tom's Restaurant had the chicken strips and the famous facade and a great location, but what it didn't have was the contraption that restaurants have to swipe your plastic. Cold cash only. The manager gave me a long-winded explanation for this, which involved all about Tom's Restaurant being the most photographed sight in New York, after the Empire State Building.  I just had to surmise that the owner doesn't want to incur the expense of providing that convenience to its customers, and doesn't need to.

      Can a restaurant that isn't of Seinfeld fame get away with a cash-only policy?

      Apparently, yes. Cash-only restaurants aren't such a rarity, especially in New York, according to this article: http://www.nypost.com/p/lifestyle/food/show_me_the_money_8niSh33bOLHfc8IWT5RH8H.   And a Pioneer Press writer complained about it happening elsewhere in this article: http://www.twincities.com/ci_17015829

      As a customer, a find it extremely annoying. As a member of society who hates to see paper goods such as books and newspapers disappear, I guess I'm glad there's one kind of paper some people will favor over anything else.