For a restaurant, Point of Sale (POS) hardware goes well beyond the point of sale itself. You need a set of reliable and robust hardware products to make sure your customers get exactly what they order every single time.

Your Ticket to Success

A restaurant operator once said to me that “The kitchen ticket is precious. It is our lifeblood”. The kitchen ticket is the link between what gets ordered by your customers and what gets prepared by your kitchen staff, so it’s understandable why she felt that way. A missing or unreadable ticket can lead to a delayed order and an unhappy customer.

How Many Ticket Printers Do You Need?

Typically, we see merchants have the most success with one ticket printer per food or drink preparation station/line. That way, your drink orders go to the bar, your hot food items go to the line, your dessert orders go to the pastry chef, and there’s no fighting over the ticket or forgetting to deliver it to the next station.

a receipt printing from a POS system in a restaurant

Thermal vs. Impact

Restaurant POS printers typically come in two varieties: thermal, where the printer selectively heats special thermal paper to make black text and images appear, and impact, where the printer uses a printhead and ink ribbon to put ink on the paper. Thermal paper can become discolored or even totally black in hot environments…like a restaurant kitchen, so we strongly recommend using an impact printer in your kitchen. As a bonus, the sound of an impact printer can alert your staff that a new order has arrived, without the need for a separate buzzer or beeper. For your bar, you can go with either a thermal or an impact printer. A splash guard is often a worthwhile investment as an accessory to help protect your printer.

No More Ripped Tickets

You should look for a ticket printer that has an automatic paper cutter. That way, the tickets come pre-separated, and you won’t risk your staff ripping a ticket or failing to separate tickets if two orders come in quick succession.

A Word on Connectivity

In some cases, your ticket printer can be pretty far from the rest of your point of sale system, so Ethernet is usually the best choice for connectivity. You may find yourself needing some long-length Ethernet cables, and you should make sure that your network router or switch has enough Ethernet ports to support your desired number of printers. Most restaurateurs do not moonlight as IT techs. Even if you do, you’re going to want a printer that can be easily connected to your point-of-sale system without having to set up static IP addresses or spend any time managing your router’s settings. Instead, you want something simple where you can just see printers on your network and tap to add them from the POS itself.

Hardware at the Point-of-Sale

While tickets are certainly a critical part of your restaurant’s operations, you’re still going to need point of sale hardware for printing checks, taking credit cards, and collecting cash.

Check and Receipt Printing

“Check, please” sets your server in motion to begin the payment process. Since you’ll likely be printing at least 3 receipts per table (the check, your credit card slip, and the customer’s credit card receipt) – not including split checks, you’ll want a printer that prints quickly and doesn’t run through ink. A thermal receipt printer is a good choice here. You’ll need one printer per station, and either an Ethernet (wired) or a Bluetooth (wireless) printer can be used for this purpose, depending on your station’s setup.

receipt printer to a POS system

Credit Card Readers

You’ll want a credit card reader that quickly and efficiently reads cards, whether they are magnetic stripe cards or the soon-to-be-standard EMV chip cards. The switch to EMV chip cards may eventually mean a shift toward “pay-at-table” practices at restaurants, just like in Europe. However, since most EMV chip cards will still use signatures for now, that change is probably a few years away. However, you’ll still want a chip card-capable reader and point-of-sale system to help protect your restaurant from chargebacks and fraud liability.

Cash Drawer

Restaurants handle a LOT of cash, so you also need a reliable cash drawer. Some key things to look for: * Built to last: the drawers ShopKeep recommends have been certified to last over one million operations – if you’re a cash-only restaurant or have many cash-paying customers, you may want to consider a heavy-duty drawer (four million operations)

  • Printer-driven: having your cash drawer automatically pop when a cash sale occurs and stay closed for a credit sale can significantly reduce the time your servers spend completing a transaction
  • Just your size: cash drawers come in multiple sizes and with multiple drawer configurations – pick the one that matches your available space and transaction volume
  • Mountable: save space by choosing a cash drawer that can be securely mounted under the counter


Last Word: Warranty

A restaurant back-of-house environment is a chaotic place during service, and things get broken. You can’t always wait for things to get fixed, so you’ll want to ensure your POS hardware manufacturer or reseller offers at least a one-year warranty that includes sending a replacement product to your restaurant overnight.

Andy Martin

Andy Martin

Andy Martin is a product management leader for startups and other high-growth companies. He has been developing connected hardware products for over five years (before the “Internet of Things” was a thing). He is passionate about turning hardware into “easyware” for the merchant community.