How Square KDS Can Help You Manage Orders With Or Without A Full POS
The Square kitchen display system can work as part of a point of sale system or as a stand-alone option, making it a versatile option for quick-serve and full-serve restaurants.
Virtually all restaurant point of sale systems have a kitchen display system (KDS) option. Square is no exception, bringing its signature simplicity to KDS as part of its Square for Restaurants POS offering.
But no system does KDS quite like Square.
While you can use Square KDS with your Square POS system, Square has taken a bold step by offering its Square KDS as a standalone system, meaning you can use it without a POS. This subscription option makes the Square kitchen display system the perfect KDS for ghost kitchens and delivery-only restaurants that don’t have a traditional point of sale. With that being said, Square KDS works equally well for sit-down, counter-service, bars, and drive-thru restaurants.
Unlike Square’s flagship POS, Square KDS isn’t free. However, Square still offers one of the most affordable KDS systems out there, and the setup couldn’t be easier.
Keep reading this Square KDS overview to learn what a Square kitchen display system can do for your restaurant and how Square KDS pricing works.
Table of Contents
What Is A Square KDS System?
A Square KDS is a kitchen display system that uses an Android touchscreen to communicate orders instead of a kitchen printer. The Square Kitchen Display System helps restaurants organize and fulfill tickets sent from their Square POS and from online ordering channels. Square KDS requires a monthly subscription.
What Do You Need To Run Square KDS?
To use Square KDS, you need the right hardware and software setup. Let’s go over the devices and apps you’ll need to use Square KDS.
Square KDS Hardware
Square KDS runs on Android touchscreens. Square recommends using the MicroTouch 21.5″ ($699) or MicroTouch 15.6″ ($599). You can purchase these devices from Square or elsewhere. Square KDS will also work on the following Android tablets:
- Elo I-Series 4.0 15″
- Elo I-Series 4.0 22″
- Lenovo Tab 10.6”
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10”
- Lenovo Tab M10
- Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 WiFi
Square KDS will not run on Android phones.
Note that the first version of Square KDS ran exclusively on iPad, but Square has since phased out the iPad KDS system in favor of the larger, more durable Android touchscreens. Square will still support the Square KDS iOS app until June 2024, after which the app will only work on Android.
Square POS Hardware
Unless you have an online-only setup, you’ll also need POS hardware to use Square KDS.
You can populate orders to your Square KDS from the following Square POS devices:
- Square Register
- Square Terminal
- Square Restaurant Mobile POS Kit for Android (on Square for Restaurants Plus plan only)
- iPad with Square Stand or Square credit card reader
- Compatible Android devices running Square POS
Square KDS Software
Square KDS requires the use of Square software. Specifically, you will need to download the Square KDS app from the Google Play store to your Android KDS device. You’ll also need the Square for Restaurants app or Square POS app on whatever POS device(s) you are using for your point of sale.
Square KDS can also pull orders from your online Square orders and some third-party ordering channels. Square KDS can populate orders from any or all of the following:
- Square for Restaurants (Free or Plus version)
- Square POS
- Square Online orders
- Square Online Checkout payment links, including QR code payments
- Third-party delivery app partners
- Third-party self-order kiosk partners
Square KDS Pricing
In addition to the Square kitchen display itself ($599 or $699, depending on how big of a screen you want), you will need to purchase a monthly software subscription in order to use Square KDS. There are a couple of different ways you can purchase a Square KDS subscription:
- $20/month per device with a standalone KDS subscription
- $60/month for unlimited Square KDS devices with a Square for Restaurants Plus subscription
If you buy a standalone Square KDS subscription, it will come with Square for Restaurants Free included, but you can also use the KDS with your free Square POS plan and Square Online orders. If you already use Square POS or Square for Restaurants Free, you can try Square KDS free for 30 days.
Another way you can purchase a Square KDS is with a Square For Restaurants Plus subscription, which includes unlimited Square KDS devices as well as other advanced restaurant features for $60/month per location. Additional POS terminals at a single location are $40/device under the Square for Restaurants Plus plan, but you can have unlimited KDS devices on your “Plus” account at no additional cost.
If you’re not sure what POS plan you should use with Square KDS, start by comparing Square POS with Square for Restaurants. From there, you can narrow down whether you need the Free or Plus version of Square for Restaurants.
Square KDS Features
As follows are some notable Square KDS features:
- Custom Layouts: In the Square KDS app, you can easily customize settings like text size, number of tickets you want displayed, ticket layout, timer options, online order view, and notification options. It’s also very easy to switch back and forth between different views and layouts.
- Order Routing: Automatically route different categories of items to different KDS stations for preparation. This helps streamline operations and improve order accuracy. For example, you might use one KDS as an appetizer station and another KDS to manage bar orders. Each station can be set up in Prep or Expo (expeditor) mode to perform different types of functions.
- Online Orders: If you have online orders turned on, your KDS will populate with orders from your Square Restaurant Online ordering website and partnered third-party delivery service orders from Caviar, Postmates, and DoorDash. To use Square for Restaurants with non-partnered delivery services like Uber Eats and Grubhub, you can use the Chowly integration.
- Ticket Timers & Alerts: You can prioritize and monitor order status on the Square KDS using ticket timers and alerts. After a certain amount of time, an order will appear as yellow or red, letting the kitchen staff know to prioritize that ticket. You can also adjust the desired timeframe for yellow and red alerts.
- Order Fulfillment: Both Prep stations and Expo stations have the ability to mark single items or whole tickets as complete. Expo stations can also show completed tickets across all prep stations and can recall completed tickets to a prep station if an item needs to be remade. Expo stations can also alert third-party delivery services when an order is ready.
- Kitchen Performance Reports: View your Square KDS reports from your Square Dashboard. You can see your completed ticket count and average completed ticket time across all tickets, sort by KDS station, or view performance for a particular timeframe. Multi-location restaurants can also use this reporting feature to monitor kitchen performance by location.
While this list covers the core feature set for Square KDS, you can find a more detailed Square KDS guide on Square’s support website.
Square KDS FAQs
Is The Square Kitchen Display System Right For You?
All types of eateries or bars using Square as their POS can benefit from having a Square Kitchen Display System in their back-of-house. Square KDS is also an option for new restaurants or ghost kitchen startups that are looking for an affordable KDS only or POS with KDS, as well as restaurants looking to switch from a different system.
With a starting price point of just $20/month, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more affordable KDS system. However, it’s possible that restaurants with more complex needs could find Square’s KDS lacking in features.
One final thing to note about Square KDS is that it only works using Square as your payment processor, so if you want to take payments with your own merchant account, then Square Kitchen Display System is not for you.
Square for Restaurants is an excellent restaurant POS system overall, with a free option and the added bonus of being able to add Square KDS to your setup for a small monthly fee. But Square is not the only game in town. If you want to look at more free restaurant POS systems with KDS add-ons, check out other free restaurant point of sale software.