Shannon VissersThe former editor-in-chief of SteelOrbis, Shannon has been researching and writing about small business software and financing since 2015. Her retail and personal finance expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including Reader's Digest, MSN, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates . She has also published articles for LIVESTRONG.COM, eHow, Life'd, and other websites. Shannon attended San Diego State University, graduating in 2005 with a BA in English.
Northern California-based Cake POS is a point of sale and business management system made just for restaurants. The Cake POS system can support all types of restaurants, from fast-casual to full-service, as well as bars and pubs. Customer reviews for Cake are quite positive, and it’s easy to see why: Cake’s feature-set is complete, without being overly complex. The system is straightforward and easy to use, with similarly straightforward monthly software pricing and flat-rate payment processing.
Cake is not as widely used as its competitor Toast but shares many the same elements, including restaurant-specific features, proprietary POS hardware, and in-house payment processing.
Things get a little hairy when it comes to the total cost of a Cake POS system and the commitment involved. If you decide to go with Cake as your restaurant POS, you’ll be on the hook to use the system for at least two years or even longer if you decide to lease your hardware (which we strongly discourage). But with all that said, most users seem to be happy with this system, so it’s possible that you won’t have any problem committing to this POS system long term.
Keep reading our full review to learn more about Cake POS.
Cake’s monthly pricing is quite reasonable, but it’s important to understand that Cake requires a two-year contract with an optional three-year hardware lease even though fees are charged monthly.
Generally, we don’t like long-term contracts and especially not equipment leases when it comes to POS or payment processing, but these practices are not uncommon among restaurant POS providers. For example, Toast, Revel, and Upwork all have two to three-year service agreements (though those providers at least make it easy to buy your hardware outright).
Cake does not offer a free trial of its system, but you can request an online demo.
POS Software Fee: $69/month, plus an additional $49/month for each additional terminal (note that to get this pricing, you’ll have to sign a two-year contract)
Guest Management (Add-On): $79/month, plus a one-time payment of $199
Tableside Ordering (Add-On): $49/month, plus a one-time payment of $299
Online Ordering (Add-On): $49/month
Gift Cards (Add-On): $25/month
Cake encourages the use of leases for its proprietary hardware. Cake’s monthly hardware pricing is $69/month with a three-year equipment lease. It may be possible to buy the equipment outright, but the company does not list pricing upfront, so you’ll have to contact Cake for a quote.
Cloud-Based Or Locally-Installed
Cake POS is cloud-based, meaning the software is accessed over the internet, and your restaurant’s data is stored online. The system does have an offline mode that allows you to continue taking card payments during an internet outage. The card information is cached, and the cards are processed once the connection resumes. However, the system already has to be up and running before the internet outage; you won’t be able to start up the POS without an internet connection.
Cake POS is designed for all types of restaurants, bars, and cafes. The software’s features seem best suited to casual sit-down and take-out restaurants, including both full-service and fast-casual restaurants, such as bistros, bakeries, brunch spots, family restaurants, brewpubs, and others. Cake has features for restaurants that primarily offer to-go and delivery as well as sit-down restaurants that take reservations.
Specific Size Of Business
Cake can support single- and multilocation restaurants and includes multilocation inventory management. However, based on Cake’s pricing structure and the relative simplicity of its feature offerings, I would say Cake is best suited to smaller businesses with just one or two locations.
Ease Of Use
Cake has a simple, intuitive interface that makes it easy to add and edit menu items, check-in customers, enter orders, and send orders to the appropriate kitchen printer or kitchen display. In Cake POS system reviews, customers overwhelmingly praise the system’s ease of use (see more about what customers say about Cake in the Cake POS Reviews section below).
For fast-casual hardware setups, the customer-facing screen makes the system easy to use for your customers as well.
One criticism I found in customer reviews regarding ease of use is that the buttons are all the same color, making it difficult to differentiate items visually.
Hardware & Operating System Requirements
Cake runs exclusively on its own proprietary hardware (apart from its OrderPad and Guest Management add-on apps, which run on iPad). Cake’s core POS hardware setup comes in black or white and includes a splash-resistant 15″ touchscreen terminal, cash drawer, thermal printer, and “payment cube,” which can accept swiped, dipped, or NFC payments. You can also add a guest-facing touchscreen, barcode scanner, barcode scanner, and/or Epson kitchen display system from Cake. Every Cake POS installation comes with a CradlePoint MBR 1200B router.
If you opt for the OrderPad mobile ordering and payments add-on for iPad, you’ll need to pay $99 for an iMag Pro II magnetic stripe card reader that plugs into the iPad’s Lightning port, plus another $299 for a Cake Wi-Fi Access Point.
Cake has strong basic restaurant POS functionality that is expandable with in-house add-ons. However, to perform certain restaurant management functions (such as scheduling employees or running profit and loss reports), you’ll need to add a third-party software integration.
Here is some more information about Cake’s most notable point of sale features:
Cake’s touchscreen register is intuitive and straightforward, with item buttons and a search function to quickly enter orders and send them straight to the kitchen. The iPad mobile option has the same interface as the main register screen and syncs with your main POS as well. The register has pre-auth as well as a “speed screen” function, useful for quickly managing multiple orders simultaneously (for example, in a bar environment). Splitting checks on this POS is also a piece of cake (sorry, I had to use that one at least once!).
You can also edit your menu right from your Cake POS register (as well as from the back office). Using the Quick Menu Edit feature, it’s easy to add items, update options, change prices, or hide items that are no longer available.
Cake comes with a few basic reports that are somewhat customizable, allowing you to set filters and select your desired dates. The reports can be downloaded or emailed. Here’s what you get:
COGS: Shows sales, costs, and profits how much you’re making, and spending, on your sales.
Revenue Centers: Shows revenue, broken down by dining room, bar, patio, etc.
Taxes: Shows gratuity, taxable items, and taxable item sales.
Accounting Reports: These reports require a QuickBooks or Xero with SHOGO integration.
Cake’s built-in loyalty program lets you check-in customers, so they can earn points to redeem rewards. Check customers in through the loyalty mobile app, which displays a barcode you can scan. Or look them up with their phone number. Once they’re checked in, the POS screen conveniently shows you which reward(s) they’re eligible for.
Cake comes with very basic inventory management that includes stock counts and raw ingredient tracking. Cake’s stock counts let servers know if an item is limited or needs to be 86’d. However, Cake recommends that restaurants partner with ORCA if they want full inventory management. If you want detailed inventory reports for items and ingredients and Profit & Loss reports, you’ll need to pair Cake with ORCA.
Cake has some inventory management features, including:
Payroll Reports: Run payroll reports right from your POS.
Labor Cost Reporting: Labor costing information to help you make staffing decisions
Employee Time Clock: Includes clock-in/out reports, which also show breaks and overtime. Timesheets can be emailed to the payroll manager.
Tip Sharing: Allows servers and staff to divide tips at the end of the shift.
To schedule employees using Cake, you’ll need to use the 7Shifts integration, which starts at $43.99/month.
Tableside Ordering & Payments (Add-On)
Cake’s tableside ordering module, OrderPad, lets you take orders from an iPad and send them directly to the kitchen. You can also take payments using the iPad. The OrderPad app shares the same interface as the main POS register, which simplifies things. Stock counts are also synced with your main POS. This paid add-on is useful for line busting or for taking orders at a sit-down restaurant.
However, tableside payments with OrderPad only work with a magnetic stripe reader, which is somewhat outdated compared to Toast and Upserve’s tableside ordering devices.
Online Ordering (Add-On)
Using this paid add-on, restaurants can accept orders and payments online. Once the feature is enabled, simply add online ordering to your website and Facebook page so that customers can place their orders for pickup or contactless delivery. The module also integrates with Checkmate, so you can receive orders from third-party ordering services, such as DoorDash or UberEats.
Guest Management (Add-On)
This add-on for the iPad is one of Cake’s strongest features. Guest Management includes both table management and customer management as well as waitlist and reservations management. The module also now includes curbside order management.
Here’s what you get with Cake Guest Management:
Virtual waitlist and call-ahead seating
Predictive wait times
Mapped table management
Curbside pickup with the ability to assign parking spots or order numbers to waiting parties
Automatic confirmation texts to let guests know when their table or order is ready
Ability to accept reservations through your website, over the phone, through Cake’s restaurant discovery portal (CAKE.net), The List App, or Google Reservations
Guest Management is an added $79/month, but if you don’t use it, I think you’d be missing out on Cake’s most impressive set of features.
Customer Service & Support
Most customers have overwhelmingly positive things to say about Cake POS customer service and tech support, lauding them as being both friendly and exceedingly helpful. Cake advertises 24/7 phone and email support on all plans and includes onboarding assistance in its hardware pricing. Additionally, Cake has an online knowledgebase (“Cake University”) and an active presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
At first blush, it looks like Cake uses its in-house payment processor, Cake Payments, exclusively. However, after digging a little, I figured out a couple of things:
Cake Payments actually uses WorldPay as its back-end processor.
Cake does integrate with other credit card processors, but the company doesn’t advertise which ones, so you’ll have to ask.
Cake Credit Card Processing
Cake’s in-house payment processing service, Cake Payments, seems decent enough and is fairly transparent about its rates. However, it is a whitelisted version of Worldpay (formerly Vantiv), which has a high complaint volume; many reviewers have complained of hidden fees and long-term contracts with automatic renewal clauses and early termination fees.
Though WorldPay isn’t the greatest, Cake’s version of WorldPay at least offers flat-rate payment processing, which is a good bet for most small businesses, thanks to its simplicity and transparency. When it comes to in-person payments via credit card or mobile payments (such as Apple Pay or Android Pay), Cake charges a flat fee of 2.5% + $0.10, which is slightly less than Toast or Square, but slightly more than Clover. In addition to EMV and NFC, Cake can also process eCardSystems gift cards and online PayPal payments via PayPal’s Order Ahead service.
However, if your restaurant wants to take orders using Cake’s online ordering module, Cake Payments takes a whopping 5% of the sale. That’s a pretty large cut for card-not-present transactions, especially on larger orders. For comparison, Square charges 2.9% + $0.30 on online food orders and Toast’s online payment processing rate is 3.5% to 3.89% + $0.15.
Integrations & Add-Ons For Cake POS
Cake integrates with a few other business software programs, but the list of integrations is by no means exhaustive:
Xero: A QuickBooks alternative for accounting (requires SHOGO integration).
7Shifts: Employee scheduling software, starting at $43.99/month.
ORCA: This restaurant inventory management software costs $109.00/month plus a one-time setup fee of $899.00.
ChefTab: A kitchen display system (KDS) hardware integration.
SpendGo: An omnichannel customer engagement software.
eCardSystems: Sell gift cards and use employee swipe cards for login.
Restaurant365: Restaurant management software.
As mentioned, Cake also offers several in-house add-ons, which include:
Online Ordering: $49/month
Reservation & Waitlist Management: $79/month
Tableside Ordering: $49/month
Gift Cards: $25/month (plus the cost of the cards)
Cake POS Reviews
There aren’t a ton of Cake POS reviews to be found online because it’s a relatively small POS company — an August 2020 press release from Cision PR Newswire stated that Cake serves 5,000+ businesses. But looking at the Cake testimonials and reviews that are available, Cake seems to have a pretty great reputation among the businesses that use it. Cake is rated 4.8/5 on G2, 4.6/5 on GetApp, and 4.6/5 on Capterra. Cake does not have a presence on the Better Business Bureau, and neither does Sysco, Cake’s former parent company, nor its current parent, Mad Mobile.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
I had to dig a bit, but I did find a few recurring complaints about Cake in negative reviews:
Basic Feature-Set: In particular, customers say the reporting is very basic, as are the inventory management system and the loyalty program.
No Payment Processing Options: Several customers said they wished they could integrate Cake with an outside payment processor of their choice rather than being locked into Cake’s payment processing.
Crashes During Busy Times: A few reviewers said the system would sometimes crash or freeze up during busy times.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Cake’s reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Here are the most common trends in positive Cake POS reviews (of which there are many!):
Easy To Use: Most businesses find this POS super fast and easy to set up, learn, train employees on, and start selling with.
Good Price: Cake users appreciate the system’s affordable monthly price tag, especially compared to expensive on-premise solutions, such as Aloha.
24/7 Customer Support: Numerous Cake reviews praise the POS company’s customer support as a strong selling point. Customers especially appreciate that there is a support number you can call and text.
Excellent Guest Management System: Cake’s iPad add-on for table management, waitlisting, reservations, and curbside takeout has 5/5 stars in the Apple App Store.
Cake is an interesting choice of POS for restaurants since it has some features of older on-premise POS systems paired with modern cloud-based tablet POS technology. Cake uses leased proprietary hardware and long-term contracts, practices that harken back to a pre-Y2K era. However, Cake also has month-to-month pricing plans, flat-rate payment processing, and uses mobile and online technology.
Cake’s 2020 acquisition by Mad Mobile additionally helped bring Cake into the COVID era, adding features such as curbside pickup.
Cake POS system also finds a middle ground in terms of its pricing, which is lower than some of its restaurant POS competitors. But it couldn’t really be called a bargain when you consider that the program is pretty basic if you don’t use integrations and add-ons.
So should you choose Cake as your POS? Maybe! But since Cake requires a long-term commitment, I’d first recommend evaluating Cake against both Toast and Upserve since those systems have very similar feature-sets. Or, if you’d prefer a lightweight iPad POS with no long-term commitment, you might take a look at Lightspeed Restaurant, TouchBistro, or Square for Restaurants.
The former editor-in-chief of SteelOrbis, Shannon has been researching and writing about small business software and financing since 2015. Her retail and personal finance expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including Reader's Digest, MSN, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates . She has also published articles for LIVESTRONG.COM, eHow, Life'd, and other websites. Shannon attended San Diego State University, graduating in 2005 with a BA in English.
Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.