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Going cashless: Sweetgreen swaps cash for credit

The+salad+bar+chain+Sweetgreen+has+stopped+accepting+cash+payments+in+an+effort+to+improve+efficiency.+Photo+by+Sabrina+Martin.+
The salad bar chain Sweetgreen has stopped accepting cash payments in an effort to improve efficiency. Photo by Sabrina Martin.

The salad bar chain Sweetgreen has stopped accepting cash payments in an effort to improve efficiency. Photo by Sabrina Martin.

The salad bar chain Sweetgreen has stopped accepting cash payments in an effort to improve efficiency. Photo by Sabrina Martin.

By Sabrina Martin

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One student favorite for fast-casual dining in downtown Bethesda is Sweetgreen, offering a salad bar and a range of healthy choices. For many students, eating at Sweetgreen may become more difficult after the company’s decision last December to go cashless at all of its 64 locations in 2017.

The founders told business magazine Fast Company that after testing locations with the highest and lowest cash transactions, they found that customers generally didn’t care whether they accepted cash or not.

“Cash has become such a smaller piece of our tender,” Sweetgreen co founder Nicolas Jammet told Fast Company. “When we opened nine years ago, it was 40 percent. Now, all stores are between 10 percent and 15 percent.”

Sweetgreen is confident that their decision will yield more benefits than costs. The founders cited several reasons for their decision, including decreasing the likelihood of being robbed, improving their restaurant’s hygiene, making transactions more efficient and providing more time for managers to mentor employees.

Students who do use cash have found the switch inconvenient.

Senior Corrine Hall was shocked when she learned she couldn’t use cash to pay for her lunch at Sweetgreen. Hall relied on her friend to pay for that lunch, but added that many customers may be left unable to pay if they don’t have a credit card.

“I think it’s correctly motivated; they want to reduce paper waste,” Hall said. “But [it] also cuts out a lot of their customers, especially students because we aren’t as likely to have credit cards.”

Junior Brooke Holden recently had a similar experience when she ordered a salad at the Bethesda restaurant, but she unfortunately was alone and only had cash. Luckily upon explaining she had no other way to pay, the cashier gave Holden the salad for free.

Sweetgreen’s new policy may be more than just an inconvenience for those who typically only carry cash, people of low economic standing who do not have access to credit cards or phones aren’t able to dine at cashless restaurants either. Sweetgreen co-founder Jonathan Neman acknowledged this issue in an interview last July with the New York Times and said the company was considering solutions to offer alternative ways of paying.

Nonetheless, Sweetgreen is committed to becoming a more advanced, efficient food chain that caters to the changing world.

“One of our visions for tech in the future is how can we use technology to empower our team members to provide better services,” Neman told Fast Company. “We believe the future is hyper-experiential and hyper-convenient; the middle is going to get squeezed out.”

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The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School
Going cashless: Sweetgreen swaps cash for credit