Square for Restaurants

Square is known for their little white credit card reader used at farmers markets, hipster coffee shops, and other small independent businesses. Since its inception in 2009, the company and its community of sellers has grown exponentially. Historically, these sellers ran their businesses on the same app: Square Point of Sale.

Square Point of Sale, great for smaller merchants but not powerful enough for larger restaurants.

Square Point of Sale works great for smaller businesses, but as Square sellers have grown in size, so have their lists of specialized feature requests. After all, a busy restaurant in New York has very different needs than a hair salon in rural Montana. Simply put, the "one-app-fits-all" solution that Square Point of Sale is does not fit sellers with more specialized needs. To solve this, Square set out to build multiple vertical specific solutions instead of a single monolithic point of sale app.

Restaurants is one of these verticals (the others being Retail and Professional Services). We began work in 2016: a tiny team visting restaurants and talking to busy chefs, servers, and managers—who showed us archaic restaurant software that was incredible feature rich, but hard to use and running on hardware being maintained by expensive technicians.

Archaic restaurant software/hardware and a food delivery "tablet farm".

A common theme for frustration was speed. A restaurant point of sale should be easy to use, fast, and reliable to let service run smoothly, increasing the customer turn rate and revenue. Speed also matters for managing outside orders (delivery and pickup), an increasing stream of revenue for restaurants.

Outside orders can be placed by customers over phone, but are more likely sent from a food delivery service such as Caviar, Grubhub, or Uber Eats. Each food delivery service provide partnering restaurants with a tablet for managing orders, resulting in a farm of different food delivery tablets. Not only are these “tablet farms” ugly, but highly ineffective, as neither of the tablets talk to the point of sale. Meaning that a server accepting an online order from a food delivery tablet also has to input said order on the point of sale to send a ticket to the kitchen and track the sale in reporting.

We removed this duplicative work by integrating food delivery services with the point of sale, allowing servers to manage all orders, in-house or outside, on the the same device. This is only one example of how we modernized the restaurant point of sale. Our worked touched everything from onboarding and setup, to order taking, reporting, and employee payrolls.

In 2018 we finally launched Square for Restaurants. A reliable, self-serving point of sale solution that let restaurant employees spend less time on technology and more time on what matters: tasty food and great service.

Square for Restaurants announcement video.

Servers use the item grid to translate customer orders into tickets that are sent to the kitchen. Muscle memory is everything, experienced servers barely look at the screen while entering orders. To support this workflow we created generous tap targets and speedy transitions.

"Medium rare, no onions, add mustard". Item modifications takes time to enter and slows down service. We optimized the item modification flow for as few interactions as possible, automatically stepping servers through options (temperature, toppings, etc) until all requirements are fulfilled.

Manage in-house orders and delivery orders.

Input orders to a table or view which tables are open, need attention, or are ready for the check. Behind the scenes information like guest count and restaurant performance is tracked automatically.

A glaring screen can ruin the vibe even in the coziest of bars. We created a dark mode that won't blind your servers or guests.

Track and edit all things related to the point of sale and restaurant on Square Dashboard. Apart from adding restaurant specific Dashboard features, we updated the framework and navigation, moving away from a site map that looked more like an org chart and created a new framework that lets busy restaurant managers easily perform their day-to-day tasks.

From joining the Square's NYC design team in 2013 to leaving in 2018 I was on the journey that took Square from start-up, via an IPO, to become one of the fastest growing tech companies on the market.

At Square I implemented scalable design systems that translates across products, devices, and platforms, as well as created and improved product features for Square Point of Sale and Square for Restaurants. All done with collaboration across teams and timezones, impacting hundred thousands of customers worldwide.

To say the least, the last 5 years have been lined with learnings, obstacles, and rewards.

I am now on a sabbatical until the end of the year but I am already looking for new challanges ahead. Although based in New York City, I am open to relocate or work remotely.

Send me an email and let's talk more. I'm also on Linkedin.