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TouchBistro is a point-of-sale, or POS, system designed specifically to help restaurants manage tables, menus, inventory and staff. Features such as online ordering, gift cards and customer loyalty programs are also available at an additional cost.
Well-known in the restaurant industry since its launch in 2010, this restaurant management system is used in more than 29,000 establishments and processes over $13 billion in payments annually. However, unlike some competitors, TouchBistro doesn’t offer a free trial period or month-to-month subscriptions.
TouchBistro at a glance
Payment processing cost
Varies based on the payment processor you pick.
Not disclosed. An iPad is necessary to run TouchBistro software. IPads, cash drawers, routers, printers, mini servers, keyboards and other accessories are available by quote only. You may also have the option to use your existing equipment.
The contract length is specified in the quote and is automatically renewed unless 30 days' prior notice of cancellation is given. In most cases, you can’t terminate the contract early.
Customer service and technical support are available 24/7 by phone, chat and email. Additional resources include a support center with articles and videos, live workshops and a VIP Community.
Ease of use
TouchBistro is user-friendly with a modern interface. A dedicated onboarding manager will help you with the setup and provide training on the system.
How does TouchBistro work?
TouchBistro is designed for full-service restaurants, quick-service restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs and even food trucks. The POS provides the software and hardware restaurants need to accept payments and track sales.
To operate the POS system, you’ll need a hardwired, local connection, a router and an iPad with TouchBistro software. This type of setup allows you to continue to use your system even if your internet connection isn’t working.
If you're operating more than one register, you must download TouchBistro’s Pro Server application, which allows the iPads to sync with each other.
The monthly fee for the TouchBistro POS system starts at $69 per month but is quote-based. Also, that fee doesn't include the cost of hardware or payment processing. Accordingly, knowing what you'll pay means having to talk to a salesperson.
Add-on features are available at an additional cost.
A contract, or service agreement, is required with details such as contract length outlined in the quote.
TouchBistro sells hardware a la carte instead of offering bundled packages.
Pricing isn’t transparent; you have to talk to a salesperson to get a quote. But your hardware may include an iPad, router, printer, cash drawer, Mac mini server, monitor, keyboard and mouse.
TouchBistro doesn’t offer payment plans for hardware.
TouchBistro Payments Powered by Chase, available to U.S. customers only, integrates with the TouchBistro POS system to accept debit and credit card payments along with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay transactions.
The processing fees you pay and how quickly your funds are deposited in your account will depend on the payment processor you pick.
In addition to payment processing, TouchBistro integrates with other partners that offer software for accounting, inventory management, online ordering, analytics, staff scheduling and payroll. This includes QuickBooks, Xero, MarginEdge, Sage, Shogo, Avero, WISK.ai, Optimum Control, Freepour, Craftable, MarketMan, Bevchek, Deliverect, Ordermark, Push Operations and 7shifts.
When you sign up for TouchBistro, an onboarding manager will guide you through the process, including installation, menu setup and other training.
TouchBistro POS software plan features
TouchBistro’s floor plan and table management software lets you lay out your restaurant floor plan, assign staff to sections and view availability in your dining room with ease. It also offers easy table transfers if diners want to change tables. You can associate specific tables at specific times to specific reservations.
For tableside ordering, the system allows servers to browse the menu, punch in items and modifiers, and send the entire ticket to the kitchen when the order is complete. The system includes a feature to prompt servers to mention other items and allows them to split or join bills at a customer's request. You can also enter “card not present” transactions and set taxes and gratuity to automatically calculate at checkout.
Building and adjusting your menu can be done directly through the POS. Menus can be customized with photos and detailed descriptions of items can be included to help servers answer questions and create special orders. You can also schedule specials or seasonal changes by cloning your existing menu.
The software features a clock-in/clock-out function that allows you to track employee hours. You can assign staff their own accounts and adjust their permissions based on their roles. Employee payroll details are stored to help you calculate wages, and reports with data on overtime hours and labor costs are available.
The inventory management software lets you create a record of the quantity and cost of ingredients used in your recipes so you can determine menu item profit margins and make the call on whether an item stays or goes. Stock level reports help you determine when to order. When inventory is running low on a specific dish, servers are notified so they can withdraw it from the menu.
Reports and analytics
The software comes with over 50 reports that provide valuable insight into your restaurant’s performance. For example, you can learn about customer behavior and identify spending patterns. These reports are useful when making decisions about your menu, promotions and the service you provide. Detailed reports are also available on staff performance.
Other features of TouchBistro
You can add to the POS system by purchasing additional features:
Reservations — starting at $229 per month
This booking system can be used by a restaurant of any size. Since this is a flat monthly charge, there aren’t any other booking-related fees. You control the availability of online reservations by blocking out dates. Guests receive email confirmations of their reservations and have the opportunity to go back and make changes through the system. It may be possible to transfer reservations from an old system with the assistance of a TouchBistro team member.
Online ordering — starting at $50 per month
This online system allows customers to place orders on your website, through social media and through TouchBistro Dine, a reservation platform. Customers can order in advance and pay online, plus you’ll receive notification through the POS system. This feature is available in the U.S. and Canada, excluding Quebec. You can cancel this feature at any time.
Gift cards — starting at $25 per month
This feature offers physical and digital gift cards for your restaurant that can be purchased at your location, on your website or through a personalized customer web app. It takes three to five days to receive generic, physical cards and close to two weeks for custom cards.
Loyalty — starting at $99 per month
This customer relationship management feature offers multiple reward options for customers. You can design personalized promotions to be sent to customers by email. You can also get customer feedback, in-app messaging and automated marketing. The loyalty program can be used across all your locations and is available in the U.S. and Canada.
Kitchen display system — pricing varies
Another type of software available to run on your iPad is a kitchen display system, which provides a consolidated view of orders along with a loud chime announcing a new order. Servers have the option to prioritize tickets with color-coding.
Customer-facing display — pricing varies
Another add-on feature is a customer-facing display that allows customers to view their orders. Customers review items ordered, prices and modifications as they place their order. The display can also be customized with the branding of your restaurant and be used for advertising.
From visual menus for food trucks to chef’s notes for upscale restaurants, TouchBistro offers features that fit the needs of a wide range of different restaurant types. Offering a kitchen display system and customer-facing display are other options that highlight the system's flexibility.
TouchBistro offers core features to help you manage tables, menus, inventory and staff. You can start small and then select add-ons that let you scale as your business grows. This might include gift cards, online ordering and a loyalty program. Or it might mean additional iPads, cash drawers and receipt printers.
TouchBistro customer support is free and available through phone, chat and email to answer customer inquiries 24/7, including holidays. TouchBistro offers remote installation specialists and thorough training. Another plus is the remote access, which allows a staff member to take control of your POS to diagnose issues.
When you use TouchBistro to process your card transactions and you bank with Chase, your funds are deposited by the next business day. However, if you use a different bank, it can take anywhere from one to four business days to see the money in your account. Also, TouchBistro Payments is only available to U.S. customers.
A contract is required to use TouchBistro and it’s one you won’t be able to get out of early. The contract term is provided in your quote. In addition, without 30 days' prior written notice of your desire to cancel, you’ll be automatically locked into another term. You can’t test the system with a free trial period and there isn’t a pay-as-you-go option to minimize upfront costs.
If you’re not sold on TouchBistro, here are some alternatives to consider:
Toast POS is a robust system designed specifically for restaurants.
Pricing: Quote-based pricing for hardware, payment processing and custom software packages.
Why we like it: Toast offers its own purpose-built hardware for its POS, rather than using iPads. If you prefer dedicated options for the POS, payment terminals, self-order kiosks and kitchen displays that you know have been built with food service in mind, the company's hardware is a strong offering. It also offers an offline mode that could be helpful if you’re concerned about connectivity with a cloud-based system. It has a free starter package and two higher packages
Square for Restaurants
2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.
2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions.
3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions.
Why we like it: Square for Restaurants has table and menu management capabilities and multi-location setups. There are no fees for early termination, and it's easy to cancel or switch. Square’s fees are transparent and available online, making it easier to know what to expect.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.