Sweetgreen restaurant chain is in the “fast casual” category, serving up healthy food choices.  What won’t be on the menu in 2017 is… cash.

Starting mid-January, they will stop taking cash at 64 locations.  The  company says it will speed up transactions by as much as 15%.  Employees touching cash and then handling food is not only a hygiene and food safety issue, but putting on gloves and taking them off takes time.  The biggest complaint the restaurant says it gets is about time-in-line, so reducing that wait is a big plus.

The company also says they’ll save the time counting cash on each shift and save the time/cost of moving cash to the bank.  They also believe no cash on hand reduces the likelihood of robberies and eliminates employees skimming out of the till.

You may wonder why a place would want to turn away customers that want to pay with cash, but the company reports less than 10% of its sales currently come from cash anyway.  That’s down from 40% when it opened the chain 9 years ago.

No law forcing business to take cash

It won’t eliminate cash at its Boston location.  State law doesn’t allow that there.  But, despite what you may think, there’s no federal law forcing businesses to accept cash.  Yes, bills say “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.”


But a purchase is not a debt.

Here’s what the Federal Reserve says about this:

“United States coins and currency [including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks] are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.

This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.” – Federal Reserve