Last week I went with a group of people to Mandina's. The meal was great, the service was fine ... and when the check arrived, naturally a couple of Mandina's virgins hadn't thought to bring greenbacks. They didn't know, or they had forgotten, that Mandina's was one of the few, the proud, the old-fashioned, the cash-only great restaurants of New Orleans.
It reminded me of this New York Post story about how some Manhattan restaurants are putting the brakes on credit cards, because diners using plastic bites into their profits big time, particularly in an age when people don't think twice about trying to put a cup of coffee on a MasterCard.
Over at the great New Orleans food blog Blackened Out, Rene and Peter are having a mildly heated discussion about cash-only restaurants. Says Rene:
I don't carry cash. Mostly it is because it makes your hands smell like a trailer park in Piscataway. ... There is only one reason why restaurants don't take cards and it is to avoid or hide revenue from the Internal Revenue Service.
Peter has more sympathy for the restaurateurs:
I'm not hear to argue about the fees charged either by ATMs themselves or by banks to use ATMs. I am simply a voice for the group of people who carry cash, don't mind paying in cash, and feel that we deserve some kind of break from the 3-5% fee that we are not responsible for.
More thoughts under the jump, including an (incomplete) list of restaurants where it's Benjamins only...
It's an interesting discussion, and raises a couple of other points:
• If credit card fees are that exorbitant, should restaurants give a discount to those who pay in cash? (Some gas stations already do this.)
• If a restaurant is cash-only and has an ATM on the premises, what if the ATM has a surcharge? Or would you feel vaguely cheated by paying private ATM fees at a cash-only restaurant?
• And can we all agree it's a pain in the ass when a table of six people produces six different credit cards and expects the server to run them all?
What do you think of cash-only restaurants? *
* (An incomplete list of cash-only restaurants, cadged from memory and from the comments at Blackened Out: Mandina's, Mosca's, Morning Call, Cafe Maspero, Adolfo's... I'm sure there are others. Shall we make a list?)