The epidemic of cash-only restaurants (and how Seamless saves the day)

Guest Post by Aly Walansky

I feel like everyone has those friends.

Every time you go out, they never have cash on them. Someone graciously will spot them — whether it’s for a $3 ice cream, a $10 cocktail, a $5 cab ride. But sometimes, it’s for a more substantial expense – dinner, dessert, what have you. Sometimes they remember to pay you back. Often, they don’t.

We live in a credit card culture, so not having cash isn’t always an issue.

Just about weekly, I’ll find myself out to dinner with a few friends, and inevitably, seven credit cards will be pulled out – hopefully, for seven people. If cards are accepted, it’s easy (at least for the consumer!) – however, if cards aren’t accepted, it’s always someone spotting someone else who will “get them back” as soon as they find an ATM.

Except they normally forget. What ends up happening is they forget to repay those friends, simply because its too complicated or we are too forgetful or have other things on our mind.

And I want to scream from the rafters GROWNUPS CARRY SOME CASH. They just do. What if there’s a citywide blackouts and ATMS don’t work? What if you don’t have a friend who has cash to cover you?

The truth is, as time passes, our society has become increasingly plastic – and most of our transactions can be completed cash-free (Like Seamless! Yay!). Personally, I think you should be ready for whatever comes your way – from always having a change of undies to having around $30 in your wallet at all times, it’s just how grownups navigate the world.

And that’s why it’s so HILARIOUS (in a terrible, terrible way) that even as our culture is so plastic (sorry, Joan Rivers!), my Park Slope neighborhood is loaded with cash-only restaurants. My absolute favorite bar and BBQ joint – Pork Slope – cash-only. (However, if you order on Seamless, you skirt the whole issue…but more on that in a second…)

Porky Melt from Pork Slope

Porky Melt from Pork Slope

According to the Zagat 2011 guidebook, there was a 19% jump in eateries that refuse credit cards. This is something of a nuisance for many of us – because cash-only restaurants and no-cash friends are a terrible mix. It’s one thing to pay cash for a quick slice and a diet coke – but what about when you are enjoying sushi and martinis, like at one of our favorite Park Slope bars? You’re having a great tipsy time until the bill comes and awkwardness sets in. If everyone doesn’t have the cash they need to pay the bill, someone’s going to make an awkward walk of shame to the nearest ATM.

When you are having a good time with friends, you just don’t want to have to think about it. You don’t want to be embarrassed – you don’t want to spend more money than you should be spending, and you don’t want to spend the next few weeks silently waiting for your friend to remember all the few dollars here and there they owe you.

But you don’t want to necessarily sacrifice your favorite spots, either. So, here’s my current cheat. Here’s some of my favorite cash-only spots (in real life) that are on Seamless – ie: you can order online with a card and then deliver (ie: drink at home!) or pick up as takeout and enjoy somewhere else. Sure, it won’t solve your larger problem, but it just may solve your next weekend hang.

Pork Slope (try their nachos – or their award winning burger! It’s just as good via takeout as in person!)

Dizzy’s Diner (great brunch, but discovered it’s cash only the hard way – but not on Seamless!)

Oaxaca Taqueria – great authentic regional Mexican, reasonable too – but they don’t accept cards – except on Seamless!

Maybe I’m a shyster. Maybe I should just grow a pair. But if I can have my BBQ and live in a plastic world just a wee bit more often? All about it.

AlyWalanskyAly Walansky is a popular New York City based lifestyles and travel journalist who seeks no greater mission than the perfect spicy tuna roll. Her writing can be seen in dozens of online magazines and print publications. Visit her blog and follow her on twitter at @AlyWalansky.