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USHG,_Caffe_Marchio_Counter_Action_Shot_Credit_Liz_Clayman.png Liz Clayman
Caffe Marchio is one of Union Square Hospitality Group’s first cash-free concepts.

2018 RH 25: Union Square Hospitality Group

Envisioning a cashless operation

The 2018 class of Restaurant Hospitality's annual RH 25 looks at bold moves made by multiconcept operators — the companies that are crossing segments, shifting operations, building big or pivoting in some way. There is no ranking. These are companies to watch. See all concepts >>

HQ: New York

Leadership: Founder & CEO Danny Meyer, chief operating officer Ron Parker, chief financial officer Ashley Campbell, chief culture officer Erin Moran, chief investment officer Mark Leavitt, chief legal officer Avisheh Avini and chief of staff Richard Coraine

Systemwide sales FY2017: Not disclosed

Concepts: Blue Smoke (2), Cafes at Moma, Caffe Marchio, Daily Provisions, Gramercy Tavern, Jazz Standard, Maialino, Manhatta, Marta, Martina, The Modern, North End Grill, Porchlight, Studio Café, Tacocina, Union Square Café, Untitled and Vine e Fritti

Peter Garritano

Tacocina, opened earlier this year, is a cash-free restaurant.

Union Square Hospitality Group has long been the standard bearer of what founder and CEO Danny Meyer calls Enlightened Hospitality, an employees-first approach based on the idea that a happy staff of nice people provide more gracious service. The group led the charge toward eliminating tipping in restaurants in 2015, when Meyer declared they would do away with the practice. While that move is still a work in progress as the group switches to a “hospitality-included” model one restaurant at a time, USHG is now throwing its weight behind cashless restaurants.

In a LinkedIn post in June, Meyer said four of his restaurants already accepted only electronic forms of payment because that was safer and more efficient than handling cash, “and we have others on the way,” he said. Although that approach has been criticized for discriminating against people who don’t have credit or debit cards, Meyer addressed that.

“We have empowered our team members to assess each situation on a case-by-case basis with the ultimate goal of taking care of everyone. Policies can be broken in the name of hospitality, and if someone wants to enjoy our food and drink, yet is only able to pay with cash, it is unlikely that we would turn them away,” he said.

Next: Restaurants Unlimited Inc.

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