6 Best Quick-Serve POS Systems To Keep Up With Your Growing Business
These modern, scalable, and highly-rated systems offer affordable features that work well for quick-serve restaurants.
When it comes to quick-serve POS systems, speed is the name of the game. If your restaurant has to get food out quickly, you need POS software that keeps sales moving and orders flowing, without any lags or hiccups. An efficient point of sale system is especially essential if you are short-staffed or seeing higher-than-usual sales volumes—something that’s super common among QSR these days, as customers are rushing back out to eat but food-service employees are few and hard to find. In 2021, a quick-serve POS also needs to have online ordering, takeout, and socially distant payment options for your patrons who still prefer to keep their distance.
Usually, the best quick-serve POS system for your QSR will be an iPad POS or tablet POS, rather than a traditional PC-based system. An Android or iPad POS can harness the power of the cloud to provide supreme POS functionality, with an affordable month-to-month price tag.
In this list, we’ve compiled the top quick-serve POS systems that will help you bring your restaurant operations into the 2020s. Use one of these highly-rated systems to modernize your restaurant ordering system with quick, efficient, and feature-rich point of sale software.
Other Featured Options:
- Lavu: Best for integrations.
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
6 Best Quick-Serve POS Systems
Looking for the best quick-serve POS system for your restaurant, food truck, cafe, fast food, or other QSR? For quick-serve, we prefer Lightspeed, Square, Revel, talech, Toast, and Lavu. These cloud POS apps for quick-serve restaurants are modern, scalable, and easy to use.
With Lightspeed Restaurant, this growing POS company offers a thoughtfully designed iPad POS designed specifically for restaurants, with a dedicated quick-serve mode. As its name implies, Lightspeed’s restaurant POS system is very fast, something that’s essential in the quick-serve business.
In addition to its single-screen quick-serve ordering mode, Lightspeed offers many other useful features for quick-serve, including built-in reporting, self-order kiosks, third-party delivery service integration, a customer-facing loyalty app, QR code ordering, and easy menu management, including the ability to build custom combos on the fly. Lightspeed also integrates with numerous other restaurant software to expand your systems even further. Lightspeed is cloud-based, but adding a local Liteserver to your setup ensures you can keep taking orders and clock employees in and out, even if your internet goes down (though you can’t take credit card payments in offline mode).
Lightspeed Restaurant is highly affordable at $59/month (additional terminals are $34/month), and includes built-in payment processing at 2.6% + $0.10. (2.6% + $0.30 for online/card-not-present payments). Paid add-ons include online ordering, kitchen display system, customer display system, self-order table menu, delivery integration, loyalty, and order ahead.
Overall, customers seem to really love Lightspeed — just check out the comments section on our Lightspeed Review—because it’s so intuitive and easy to set up, and has good customer service to boot. Lightspeed doesn’t try to gauge you with expensive hidden fees or tricky hardware leases—in fact, you can source all your own hardware yourself, if you like.
- Numerous integrations
- Advanced features cost extra
- Can’t take credit card payments in offline mode
Square is probably the easiest POS system to set up and start selling with, making it a great choice for a new quick-service restaurant that doesn’t have a merchant account yet (or doesn’t want to go through the hassle of setting one up). Being a third-party payment processor, Square eliminates most of the underwriting involved in setting up a merchant account, and gets you up and going in just a day or two. You can use Square to sell on any mobile device, though they also have their own affordable POS equipment, such as Square Register, which works great for quick-serve.
Now for Square’s feature set. In short, it’s large, it’s affordable, and it gives you a lot of options. The basic Square POS functionality is free, but you can expand it with paid add ons such as Square Payroll, Square Loyalty, and advanced team management (“Teams Plus”). However, even the free Square plan provides a lot of functionality, including a free online ordering website and QR code payments. Square also has a dedicated POS system called Square for Restaurants, an iPad-only solution that includes features like conversational modifiers, ticket timers, and kitchen performance reports. There is a free version of Square for Restaurants that many quick-serve restaurants will find suitable, but if you need more advanced restaurant functionality such as kitchen display system devices, auto-86-ing, and shift-reports, you should opt for the $60/month Square for Restaurants Plus plan.
All Square plans come with built-in flat-rate payment processing at 2.6% + $0.10 (2.9% + $0.30 for online payments/CNP) and no chargeback fees. Both Square POS and Square for Restaurants charge the same payment processing rate, but since they have different features, it’s a good idea for any QSR considering Square to closely compare the two apps: Comparing Square POS & Square For Restaurants
- Easy account setup
- Free plans available
- Intuitive interface
- Numerous device, feature, and hardware options
- No dedicated merchant account equates to less account stability
Revel Systems’ iPad POS is both powerful and versatile, making it a favorite among quick-serve restaurants, even including franchises like Cinnabon. Revel couples robust back-office features, such as employee management, inventory management, and delivery management, with excellent front-of-house features for quick-serve, including self-order kiosks and a customer-facing display.
Another great feature about this quick-serve POS is its full offline mode, which allows for full uninterrupted payment processing even during an internet outage—a feature uncommon to iPad POS systems.
Revel is not the cheapest point of sale, with pricing starting at $99/month/terminal with a three-year processing contract with Revel Advantage and a two-terminal minimum. However, many restaurants, especially those switching from an expensive PC-based system, may find Revel’s cost worth it when considering the advanced, modern feature set and straightforward flat-rate processing (2.49% + $0.15 for in-person transactions).
- One of the most advanced iPad POS systems
- Robust delivery management suite
- Full offline mode
- Expensive monthly cost
- Long-term processing contract
Toast POS is a tech-forward POS designed specifically for restaurants. Toast works great for quick-serve, but since it’s built to handle full-service restaurants as well, its feature set is especially strong, including everything from ingredient inventory and labor management to recipe costing and customer analytics. Truly, I am hard-pressed to think of a feature that Toast doesn’t offer (well, except for reservation management, which QSRs don’t need anyway).
Toast has various purpose-built Android POS hardware options to fit your style of restaurant, including Toast Flex for Guest, a customer-facing screen that is ideal for quick-serve, as well as self-order kiosks. Toast Go handheld ordering devices are also useful for line-busting. The hardware is all restaurant-grade, meaning it’s pretty much immune to spills and drops.
Another thing we like about Toast for quick-serve is its options for takeout, pickup, and delivery orders. These options allow customers to order and pay online and either pick up at your eatery, or request contactless delivery from Toast’s suite of delivery drivers. For restaurants that want to offer online ordering but are sick of all the fees from third-party delivery services cutting into their bottom line, Toast’s in-house delivery module presents an alternative worth considering. Toast also has an interesting mobile ordering option for dine-in guests, which allows guests to order and pay at the table, all using their own mobile.
Toast can get expensive depending on how many add-ons you select, but they do offer a free starter plan for one or two registers that might include everything a QSR needs. Toast includes in-house, flat-rate processing priced 2.49% + $0.15 with a 2-year contract, though your fee could be higher if you choose to pay for your hardware kit as a percentage of sales—I would recommend just purchasing the $799-$999 Starter Kit upfront.
- Free plan available
- Restaurant-grade Android hardware
- In-house delivery suite
- Mobile ordering & payment options
- Requires 2-year processing agreement
With a starter price of just $29/month, talech is a budget quick serve POS option that offers you a lot of bang for your buck. talech also offers some cool hardware options, which include portable Poynt smart terminals, as well as iPad registers, Android-based Ingenico MOBY registers, and mobile credit card readers you can attach to an iPad or smartphone.
As for features, talech’s Starter package includes QSR features like order management, inventory tracking, variations & modifiers, customer histories, and even a loyalty program. If you want more advanced features like kitchen printing, employee management, kiosk mode, and a customer-facing display, you’ll need the $69/month Standard package. You can add online ordering to your Standard package for $49/month, or subscribe to the $99/month “Premium” package, which includes online ordering among other extra features, like QuickBooks integration. As you might notice, talech’s prices are a lot cheaper than those of competing POS systems, most of which offer only basic functionality for under $100/month.
With all that said, you might find talech’s features a little basic if you have specific needs, such as specific software integrations, in-depth reporting, or an offline mode that can accept credit card transactions during an internet outage. talech gives you many choices for payment processing, including Elavon, Global Payments, Bank of America Merchant Services, Vantiv, Chase, and others. Alternatively, talech’s USAePay gateway allows you to connect to all major credit card processors in the US.
- Can use with any processor
- Some features not overly deep
- No offline payment processing
Lavu is an affordable iPad POS for restaurants with some distinct features for quick-serve. Some of these features include a dedicated quick-serve mode for quick order entry, digital menu boards, self-order kiosks, an iPad KDS (pictured above), and Lavu ToGo — an add-on interface that lets customers browse your online menu and place to-go orders for pickup.
With pricing starting at $69/month for one iPad terminal, Lavu includes 300+ features including inventory management, employee management, and many others, and the company also has inexpensive add-ons—Lavu’s loyalty add-on is $25/month or $40/month for both gift cards and loyalty. Lavu’s payment processing integrations include LavuPay, PayPal, Square, BridgePay, Heartland, and others. Besides integrating with many payment processors, Lavu also integrates with numerous third-party business software apps, particularly for online ordering and beverage inventory management.
Another thing to like about Lavu is its offline payment processing options. You also have the option to install a Lavu Local Server (LLS), a Mac Mini server that lets you continue taking payments if you lose your wireless connection. You can install the Lavu iPhone app as a backup way to take payments on your phone, either on the road, or whenever you don’t have an internet connection on your iPad terminal.
Some users have complained about software glitches, though Lavu releases frequent updates to address these issues. Another potential issue is that Lavu offers POS terminal leases with a long-term contract, which we do not recommend even though you might save on initial costs. Fortunately, Lavu also sells the POS hardware outright, and gives you the option to source it yourself.
- Numerous integrations
- Affordable pricing
- Offline payment processing
- Mobile POS
- Some complaints of software bugs/glitches
- Some customers talked into terminal lease with long-term contract
Looking For One Of These Names?
Upserve is a complete, cloud-based restaurant POS and management system, similar to Toast. Upserve was purchased by Lightspeed in 2020, and although it still exists as Upserve by Lightspeed, the POS will be sunsetted sometime next year (same deal with ShopKeep).
Harbortouch is a popular POS for quick service, especially its Echo POS product. However, this POS company has a poor public reputation for myriad reasons, ranging from untransparent tiered pricing to deceptive sales tactics. Shift4 Payments is the parent company behind Harbortouch credit card processing and we do not recommend them.
NCR Silver is another cloud-based quick service POS, but we only have them rated at 3/5 stars, due mostly to Silver’s long-term service contract and outdated equipment that comes with an expensive lease. Although the software itself is solid, the service contract is too restrictive and you cannot use the software without entering a hardware lease agreement.
Things To Consider Before Choosing The Best Quick-Serve POS
Hopefully, in our list you found at least a couple of good POS options to consider for your quick-serve restaurant. But before you make your final decision on a quick-serve POS, here are some important questions you need to ask about whatever system(s) you’re evaluating:
- Ease of Use: How easy is the POS to learn and train new employees on?
- Cost & Fees: What are the monthly fees and payment processing fees?
- Service Contract: Can you pay month-to-month or is a long-term commitment required? Is there an ETF?
- POS Hardware: What type(s) of hardware can the POS use? Can you purchase the hardware or do you have to lease it?
- Online Ordering & Delivery: Are online ordering and delivery apps offered in-house? Can you connect Uber Eats, DoorDash, etc.?
- Loyalty Program: How is the rewards program structured?
- Inventory Management: How deep is the built-in inventory management?
- Menu Customization: How easy is it to upload and edit your menu?
- Employee Management: What employee management features does it have beyond a basic time clock?
- Offline Mode: Can the POS take payments offline or at least queue offline payments to process later?
- Payment Processors: Is processing in-house only, or can you use your own merchant account?
- Integrations: Does the POS integrate with other business software or services you use?
- Overall Feature Set: Does it include only some features you need, all the features you need, or too many features you won’t use?
This may seem like a lot to think about, but it’s much better to go into a POS service contract knowing exactly what you’re getting into. This way you’ll avoid signing up for a POS that doesn’t meet your needs, or even worse, a POS that doesn’t meet your needs and that you are stuck with for years.
Need some more ideas? Check out our resource: 8 Restaurant POS Systems With The Key Features You’ll Need In 2021.
In Summary: 6 Best Quick-Serve POS Systems
- Lightspeed POS: Best all-around.
- Square POS: Best for painless setup.
- Revel POS: Best for advanced feature set.
- Toast POS: Best for takeout & delivery suite.
- talech POS: Best for affordability.
- Lavu: Best for integrations.