Whether you’re a bar, restaurant, hotel, cafe, deli, pizzeria, food truck or otherwise (intake of a breath), I’m going to help you out big time here by giving you the top 5 best restaurant POS systems of 2021, and we’re going to break them down by the best POS system for your specific type of restaurant.
How ya’ like them apples?
For those of you living under a bridge for the past 80 years, a A POS (Point of Sales System) is a digital register system that allows businesses to ring in their products and merchandise (whatever they’re selling) to keep track of their sales, labor, trends and a multitude of other important factors we’ll get into.
This following list of restaurant POS systems are (after EXTENSIVE research) in my opinion, the best systems on the market, extremely high quality and with great features. Not to mention, they are produced and run by great companies. As I already stated, they are broken down by category so you can find the one that fits your business the best.
My biggest piece of advice to you is to not be hasty in your decision. Sign-up for an online demo with one of their experts to see what they offer, as the demos are free. Ask lots of questions and be diligent.
**In addition, if you click on the buttons below to sign-up for a demo, each of them is connected to a special offer from each company that you can only get by clicking on these specific links.
Ok, enough of the pleasantries. Off we go then…
THE 5 BEST RESTAURANT POS SYSTEMS OF 2021
1. Best POS System Overall – Upserve by Lightspeed
Yes, Upserve POS retains its title and remains at the #1 spot. That’s where they were for 2020 and until someone can rise up and knock them off, that is where they will stay.
Because of its combined ease of use, performance, support and return on investment you get because of its remarkable analytics and ability to track repeat customers, Upserve is easily the best system on the market, in my opinion.
As you can see by the above numbers, those stats would win you the gold if you were competing in the olympics.
Upserve, originally named Swipely, was named by Forbes magazine as one of “America’s Most Promising Companies” in 2013. Swipely, a loyalty platform for local merchants, acquired Breadcrumb POS from Groupon and rebranded into what Upserve is today.
Now, at the start of 2021, the company Lightspeed has acquired Upserve. Lightspeed is another great POS company that mainly acquired Upserve because of Upserve’s dominance in the full-service restaurant sector. Lightspeed didn’t want to compete with them, when they themselves have such a handle on the smaller restaurant venues, hotels and retail. Now they have it all.
Currently, Upserve provides a restaurant management platform that allows restaurant owners to run and manage their businesses through restaurant-specific POS systems. Upserve’s cloud-based Restaurant POS System (for both Android and IOS) is a fantastic an all-in-one solution. It provides payment processing, point of sale, and remarkable insights to boost margins like gasoline on a bonfire.
This restaurant POS system is great for any sized restaurant, but they’re specialty is independent full-service restaurants, family restaurants, bars, restaurant groups and chains.
Why is it the Best?
Yes, let’s talk analytics. Ohhhhhhh, the analytics (imagine Homer Simpson – head tilted back, drool running from his mouth down his chin). There’s a reason Upserve is listed first.
You know a restaurant POS system is one of the best when it tells you how to make more money. Upserve not only provides all the reporting functionality of every other POS out there, but using customer data and insights, Upserve is able to tell you exactly who comes in, how often they come in, how much they spend, and how much they tip.
In addition, Upserve insights allow owners and managers to understand and manage costs, scheduling, and employee productivity better. Less time spent over-analyzing complicated reports results in significant time that can be allotted in increasing customer satisfaction.
They aren’t done yet. One of the best features of Upserve’s POS system is its Menu Intelligence. Upserve’s menu analytics can tell you not only what your hottest selling items are, but which items get first time customers to come back again. It can also tell you your most profitable items and which ones get ordered a lot but are actually losing you money.
Splitting Checks and Items
Upserve’s restaurant POS system allows servers to merge, transfer, and split checks faster. Even when the check they’re splitting is between cash and card payments.
One of the most common setbacks to using a cloud-based POS system is how internet-reliant it is. Slow internet often equates to slower service, and slower service, more often than not, results in lower customer returns. This is not a problem for Upserve’s POS System. It’s Offline Mode allows you to serve customers, send orders to the kitchen, take credit card payments, and print receipts even without the internet. Once the connection is re-established, all credit card payments will be sent to merchant accounts to process payment.
Training mode allows new hires to be trained and be able to ring in orders without those orders being sent to the kitchen or having to “comp” the order so it doesn’t show up on your sales. The Training Mode makes it easier for new hires to adapt to the system without jeopardizing the existing data in the app. It also helps that Upserve’s user interface is relatively easy to use and totally adaptable.
Upserve’s support is fantastic. Rated 9.8/10. They have 24/7/365 customer support, as well as online training videos and help pages. They have been reported as prompt, friendly and extremely helpful.
-Best POS system hands down for full service restaurants, bars and nightclubs
-Its employee-centered design allows for faster turnaround and customer returns
–Strong reporting and analytics
-Built by restaurant industry professionals which makes it extremely intuitive
-Mid-range pricing. Upserve Core’s price sells at $59/month per location and has an add-on of $60/additional terminal license (*see special offer below)
-Must use their payment processing, but this provides the amazing reporting analytics, so not much of a con here.
-May not be best for mom and pop restaurants, though they provide service for bars and restaurants of all sizes.
Upserve’s pricing is considered middle of the road compared to other restaurant POS systems, but the bang-for-your-buck can’t be overstated. The most important thing to remember is that it will get you a higher ROI (Return on Investment) than any other POS system on the market. You will actually make more money using Upserve than you will with any other system.
*As a little hidden treasure to those of you who have found this review, if you click any of the links on this page to get an Upserve demo, you will receive $500 off if/when you decide to sign-up with Upserve (but no obligation to do so). See what you get for reading the fine print?
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Upserve POS system is, for me, easily the best overall POS system of 2021 because of everything it has to offer. The POS system is fully customizable, with features like table-side ordering and checkout, kitchen display system, online ordering, loyalty program, employee scheduling, reputation management, Upserve HQ, Upserve Payments, and Upserve Live (phew!). What it comes down to is that it’s easy to use, highly efficient, and highly intelligent.
2. Best POS System Runner-Up – Toast POS
Yes, Toast POS is the runner-up for best restaurant POS system of 2021, but it is a close race and Upserve wins only by a nose. Toast is extremely versatile and able to cater to all-size bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs, etc. Toast was also one of the first innovators to implement the hand-held devices at the table which has changed the industry in ordering and check-out convenience.
Like Upserve, Toast requires that you use their payment processor, as they also use that customer data to help you market and re-market to your guests. This is a good thing for you, unless you’re married to your payment processing company, then Toast won’t be for you.
In addition, Toast has a plethora of add-on options to choose from. You do have to pay extra for them, but it’s nice to have the option, and Toast also only runs on Android devices, which are a cheaper option than iOS devices so it balances it out a bit.
What’s so Great About it?
Extremely Easy to Use
As touched on earlier, Toast POS was one of the innovator of the modern restaurant POS system. Not only do they have the hand-held devices for table-side ordering and checking out, but it is extremely intuitive and easy to use for the restaurant staff, as well as managers. From the Android tablet, you can access all of your admin areas, create service areas and access all server and bartender tabs.
Built Exclusively For the Bar/Restaurant Industry
Like Upserve, Toast POS focuses only on the restaurant industry which is something I appreciate. The best products available today are from the companies that specialize in their area of expertise instead of trying to be “something for everyone”. The system has every feature you would ever need or desire, including split checks, gratuity, menu creation, floor design, labor management, customer management and more things than I can list here. It’s best if you schedule a demo with Toast instead. They will be able to show you all the deets.
Great Reporting and Analytics
Though not quite the level of Upserve when it comes to reporting, once again, Toast comes very close. As mentioned, they use the credit card data from customers to determine how often they come in, what they order and how much they spend. They also have an array of reports to help you analyze your business, including sales, labor, product mix, tips, table turn time, total guests and the list goes on. If reporting and analytics are your thing, Toast will not disappoint.
Kitchen Facing Display System
These are becoming extremely popular with POS systems these days. The kitchen display system (KDS), replaces the outdated ticket-printing system. It is basically a hanging monitor in the kitchen where the chef and line cooks can see the orders as they come in. The orders show how long it has been since the order was placed, and the cooks are able to touch the screen and designate which dishes on the order have been completed. Upserve, Toast, and the #3 and #4 POS systems on this list all have the KDS.
Toast’s customer support has really raised the bar over the past couple years. Not that they were awful or anything, but getting back to you took longer than it should. Now they get back to you immediately and someone is always available. They have 24/7 support either by phone, chat or email. They also have complete remote installation, extensive training material on their website, as well as FAQ and troubleshooting library.
Customer Pay With QR Code
I love this. This is a great feature that is the wave of the future. QR codes are where it’s at for bringing up menus on your smart phone, but Toast POS is taking one step further by allowing customers to pay directly from their smart phones as well. That means know waiting for the server to take your credit card, run it and come back. As soon as you’re ready, you scan the QR code for your check, pay, and you’re out the door.
-Good for all sized businesses
-Intuitive and easy to use for both the employees and managers
-Wide range of add-ons
-Very good customer service
-Tied into their payment processor
-Feature add-ons can get pricey
Pricing for Toast POS is very reasonable and competitive with other restaurant POS systems in its category. The great thing about Toast is that they have pricing for all types of situations, which means you can purchase the base plan and have all the basics you need, or you can add-on features as you need them.
As of the writing of this article, Toast does have deals going on right now that are extremely affordable. When you sign up for a Toast demo, make sure to ask them about this pricing you see here.
When it comes down to it, Toast has just about every feature and integration you would ever need for a complete POS system. The only question would be how robust do you want it to be. Just remember that just because something costs more, doesn’t mean it’s not worth it because of the return on investment those features give you. Also, in the wake of COVID, Toasts online ordering features are simply fantastic. Make sure to schedule a demo to see how Toast can help you.
3. The Best Hidden Gem POS – Rezku POS
Rezku POS wins the award for “best restaurant POS system you have never heard of”. This is mainly because it is still consider a somewhat newcomer to the game (founded in 2014), but Rezku has developed a cost-friendly POS system that is extremely easy to set up and use, with a wide range of features that will make any venue happy, from food truck to full service restaurant. Rezku uses a mini-iPad as it’s handheld device, so all you have to do is download the app and you can immediately start setting up the floor layout and menu.
What’s so Great About it?
It’s Flat Out Easy to Use
Yes, we already mentioned this, but Rezku has one of the easiest and most intuitive interfaces for both FOH employees, as well as management. When you look at online POS reviews for Rezku, ease-of-use is one of the most widely and commonly repeated praises among bartenders and servers who use it all the time. Setting up the custom floor layouts and menu is just as easy. All of this can be done directly from the iPad.
Considerable Set of Features
Despite it being extremely affordable, Rezku has a wide range of features that will easily make most bar, restaurant or club owners click their heels with joy. As with most modern POS systems, Rezku has handheld devices for table-side ordering and checkout. In addition, whereas many other POS companies charge more for add-ons, Rezku includes many of its features free forever (how can you beat that?), including online delivery with zones built in (see list below). They also have a cool kitchen display app that allows the cooks to see and manage orders that come in so you don’t need a printer, which saves the trees. And then it has all the other features you would hope to get from a POS system: loyalty program, gift cards, splitting checks, pre-authorized bar tabs and fully customizable menu.
Exceptional Customer Service
The only reason Rezku receives a 9.6 in customer support in our rating is simply because they are not quite 24/7 support yet, though it is coming very soon, we have been told. They are, however, available 15 hours per day seven days per week, and what we hear most is how excited owners and managers are with the customer service at Rezku, with phrases like, “Best decision I have ever made” and “Their service alone makes it worth it.” This is because POS companies in general can disappear once you sign-up, but Rezku has a customer support team that is extremely knowledgeable, friendly and patient whenever helping their clients. The moment they go to 24/7 support, their customer support score will go straight to a 10.0.
-Built specifically for the bar and restaurant industry
-Extremely easy to use for both the employees and managers
-Customer support is fantastic
-Reporting is good, but not as robust as Upserve
-iOS only at this point
Pricing for Rezku POS is extremely reasonable, starting at only $79 per month for their basic package. In addition, they are known for being flexible when it comes to creating a custom pricing package for your bar or restaurant. They are truly a company that cares, and they don’t want to take advantage and charge you for features you aren’t even using, which says a lot.
*Hidden treasure #2: If you sign-up for a Rezku demo by clicking here and you do eventually choose them as your POS system, you will get $700 off the set-up fee (normally $899). That’s 78% off. Doesn’t get much more generous than that.
You may have never heard of Rezku POS system, but with its overall features, support and value it is truly the hidden gem of the POS world. Though we believe that Upserve has the best value because of the return on investment you receive, Rezku is a close 2nd. It is remarkably easy to use, has a wide range of features, is affordable, and they are continuously updating their system and looking for ways to advance and improve it.
4. Best POS for Small to Mid-Sized Venues & Hotels
Hmmm…where have we heard of Lightspeed POS before? Ah yes, they purchased Uperve. As mentioned in the Upserve review, Lightspeed wanted a market share of the full-service restaurant industry, but didn’t want to compete with Upserve. So they just bought them out instead. Now Lightspeed dominates the full-service sector, as well as their own area of specialty, which is smaller venues, hotels, retail and even golf clubs.
The other great thing about Lightspeed POS is that they are in over 100 countries around the world, whereas Upserve is U.S. based only. They cover A LOT of ground and serve a lot of bars, restaurants, cafes, food trucks, hotels, golf clubs, etc.
What’s so Great About it?
It is Extremely Versatile
Not only can Lightspeed POS adapt to any-sized bar/restaurant venue, but they have a truckload of integrations and different price tier levels to accommodate just about everyone. It is an all-in-one system that is fully customizable, no matter what type of establishment you run.
It is By Far the Best POS System for Hotels
I did not know this until I started researching and working on the Lightspeed system. Apparently, integrating a restaurant POS system into the hotel system is not an easy thing, as you need all sorts of 3rd party PMS (property management system) integrations and set-up. Lightspeed already has these built in. From the hotel managers I’ve spoken with, going with Lightspeed for hotels is an absolute no-brainer.
Basic Package is Very Affordable
If it’s going to be good for smaller venues, then it had better be affordable, right? It makes no sense for a smaller bar/restaurant/cafe to dole out a large chunk of money for their POS system. Their basic package is very affordable for starting out, but you can always add more features whenever you need them. You can learn more about Lightspeed’s pricing below.
Just like the other POS systems so far on this list, Lightspeed has very good reporting and analytics. Though not quite as deep as Upserve and Toast, Lightspeed’s reporting is still better than most. It provides reporting on all revenue streams, labor, which servers have the most sales, and in-depth user tracking. Smaller venues and hotels will be thrilled with the powerful analytics and reporting they get from Lightspeed.
I already mentioned the hotel PMS and integrations you get from Lightspeed, but beyond that, Lightspeed POS has more integrations than any other system listed in this top 5. And more than most other POS systems period. The fact is, if there’s an integration you want, Lightspeed most likely has it.
It’s Easy to Use
Also like most of the other POS systems on this list, Lightspeed is very easy to use with an intuitive and aesthetically pleasing interface. Ordering options are easy to find, as well as splitting checks, adding gratuity and admin options.
Lightspeed’s customer support staff has been described as friendly and knowledgeable. They have 24/7 phone support (except on holidays), online chat from 9:00AM – 6:00PM EST, email support and online training videos, all included in the basic package.
-Great for small to mid-sized businesses
-Perfect for hotels and golf courses
-Base price is very affordable
-Easy-to-use and understsand
-Great range of integrations
-Add-ons can get expensive
-Occasional outages reported
I already touched on the pricing earlier, but Lightspeed has one of the most affordable base packages around (starting at $59/mo. billed yearly) for mid-sized venues, with the option to add-on more features and integrations if you choose. You can also choose to pay $69/mo. if you want to pay month-to-month, with no contracts, which is rare in the restaurant POS business. Below are some of the options you can add for $12 or $39/mo. Again, the best thing you can do is schedule a demo with a Lightspeed expert.
Hidden Treasure #3: If you sign-up for a Lightspeed demo here and eventually sign-up with Lightspeed, you will get 20% off an entire year of your subscription.
Lightspeed POS continues to stay up with the times and is present in more than 100 countries around the world. It has a multitude of features including online ordering, accounting, employee scheduling, loyalty program, menu and floor management, and beyond. As mentioned, the reporting is very good, the integrations are insane and it is ridiculously easy to use. Not to mention the affordability of its basic package. When it comes to an affordable all-in-one system, as well as great customer service, Lightspeed can definitely contend with the likes of Upserve and Toast.
5. Best POS for Pizzerias – Thrive POS
If your business is a pizzeria, stop researching. There is no other system you should choose than Thrive POS system. More than 90% of their customers are pizzerias, and it’s because of the custom set-up they are able to provide specifically for ordering pizzas. Anyone who does not own a pizzeria (which, based on our research, is nearly all of you) has no idea how difficult it is to align the POS system with a pizza menu. And we’re not going to attempt that feat here. Take my word for it. As great as many of the other POS systems are on this list, they are simply not equipped to do this.
In addition, Thrive POS is perfect for any delivery restaurant. It is comprised of a small, on-premise server that accepts and processes orders even when there are internet connection problems. One of the most convenient things about Thrive’s Restaurant POS system is how aside from the usual features like reporting, payment processing, inventory management, and other management tools, it also offers a platform for customers to order online, features branded mobile apps, delivery driver apps and loyalty marketing programs.
What’s so Great About it?
Perfect for Small Businesses
Besides what we just said about Thrive being the pizzeria POS aficionados, they are also perfect for any other type of delivery restaurant. Thrive POS has a small, on-premise server that accepts and processes orders even when there are internet connection problems. One of the most convenient things about Thrive’s Restaurant POS system is how aside from the usual features like reporting, payment processing, inventory management, and other management tools, it also offers a platform for customers to order online, features branded mobile apps, delivery driver apps and loyalty marketing programs.
Thrive’s Delivery App
That being said, it’s no surprise that this restaurant POS system allows for maximum efficiency while simply clicking through the app. It features food delivery dispatching, live tracking, online ordering, order management, menu management and even loyalty programs for repeat customers.
In addition, it’s easily installed, Mac and Windows-compatible, and is cloud-based. This means that entrepreneurs and managers can easily access the restaurant’s information through a remote location simply by going into the app. It has a 24/7 live representative for support and is completely accessible. Thrive also includes a variety of training procedures including in person, online, documented, and webinars.
One of the things that makes Thrive one of the best systems is the number of customers that return as a result of fast and quality service because of the system. Thrive’s Restaurant POS system is modern and visibly online. It basically interacts with your customers for you. Because of the online and mobile ordering to the restaurant’s website, customers are freely able to order, track, and pay for their orders at the comfort of their homes/cars.
Thrive also features a loyalty program for repeat customers, gift card processing, and rewards systems for new customers. This, in turn, promotes both your products and ensures repeat customers.
In order to improve their system, 85% of their new features and/or improvements come directly from their customers’ comments and suggestions. There’s nothing better than being heard from a company. It makes you feel like they actually care.
Because Thrive’s restaurant POS system is modern and made for online and mobile ordering, employees and users are very comfortable with its interface. The cloud-based system allows for management at any location, including anywhere in your restaurant. The Kitchen routing system also makes ordering more efficient. Communication between all areas of the restaurant is made easier, faster, and most importantly, more efficient.
Thrive’s Restaurant POS System also allows employers to control labor costs. The sales forecasting tools can project sales and allow you to set labor budgets. The system also makes use of modern fingerprint punching in, reducing the “buddy punching” habit and ensures security. The POS system also allows employers to simply add tips to the payroll.
-Flexible business interface
-Very easy to learn and understand
-Less labor costs
-Reporting isn’t as robust as some
-Live support lacking
-May not be perfect for larger full-service venues
Pricing on the Thrive website is a bit hidden, as they prefer to give you quotes based on your needs. However, a little bird told us that you’re looking at an average base price of $99/mo. As with other POS systems, it also depends on how many stations you need and your hardware requirements and add-ons.
*Hidden treasure #4: Yep, they keep on coming. Again, if you click on any of the links in this post to schedule a demo with Thrive, if you sign up with Thrive they will give you a free Android Silk Station.
As mentioned at the beginning, setting up a menu inside the POS for pizzas is more complicated than English grammar for foreigners, and other POS systems have to go through a long process to figure it out, which they do quite poorly. Thrive POS, on the other hand, is an expert in this field. It’s POS system is tailor-made for this.
The customer service is outstanding. We believe this is mainly due because their objective is clear and concise which allows everyone on board to have a clear vision of what they are providing for their customers. In addition, the mobility and modernity of this restaurant POS system makes it less intimidating for both management and customer use.
Thrive’s Restaurant POS System’s features fit modern solutions and this is what makes it best for employee-employer communication. It also heavily features a great rewards program for new and old customers, increasing the possibility of returns.
In the end, you need to choose the best restaurant POS for you. One that fits your restaurant needs and budget. As I always say, going right to the source so you can get all of your questions answered is the best way to go.
Thanks for stopping by. I’ll see you next time.