NYC restaurants using reverse ATMs to avoid handling cash
A growing handful of New York City restaurants are determined to refuse to handle cash despite the Big Apple’s ban on refusing hard currency — and they’re turning to a new twist on an old technology.
Slutty Vegan, an Atlanta-based vegan comfort food chain with outposts in Harlem and Brooklyn, is among the restaurants installing “reverse ATM machines” that spit out prepaid cards to get out of the “Cash-22” dilemma. , Side Dish has learned.
One service provider — called ReverseATM, appropriately — rents ATM-style machines that accept cash bills in exchange for an “open loop” debit card whose balance can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. and MasterCard are accepted.
An executive at ReverseATM — whose customers range from fast-food eateries to major sports venues like Madison Square Garden — told Side Dish that customers are never charged a fee for debit cards.
Restaurateur Stratis Morfogan, founder of Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, says he’s currently in talks to bring reverseATM machines to his eateries — particularly at his East Village location, which is open all night on weekends. lives
“Cash is dirty. We realized this during the pandemic. And it’s not even safe for our staff to have cash registers full of cash,” Morfogan said. “When you carry cash, you’re a target for criminals, and I’m not comfortable with my staff carrying cash.”
The New York City Council, however, passed the cashless ban in November 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic out of concern for thousands of New Yorkers who do not have bank accounts or prefer to pay only in cash.
A crackdown soon followed – encouraging fines for businesses that flouted the law, including upscale ice cream parlor Van Leeuwen’s and popular Bushwick pizza joint Roberta’s.
It also helped generate interest in the reverse ATM idea.
Salty Vegan founder Pinky Cole, who says her business is now worth $100 million, said the risks and difficulties associated with cash took an early toll. Cole’s debuted in Atlanta in September 2018 with a single food truck, with just three menu items: burgers, pies and fries.
“We were making $15,000 to $20,000 a day, with five to six hour lines. Sometimes we needed security because we were dealing with so much cash,” Cole said. “One time, we got out of the car for two minutes and someone jumped out and stole it.”
Besides the risk of criminals, sticky-fingered employees and IRS audits, Cole said she wants to avoid spreading germs through money that’s actually dirty.
“It was the safest way and the most respectful because everything is documented,” Cole said. “It took a strain out of me. Everything went through a system.”