Downtown Detroit restaurant Mootz Pizzeria and Bar is ending its controversial cashless payment policy. The four-month-old restaurant located at 1230 Library St. is now accepting both cash and as well as cards and Apple Pay, according to a release.
Mootz Pizzeria was the first of several downtown businesses to open this year, including the Brakeman and Penny Red’s at the Shinola Hotel, that would only accept payment by credit or debit card. The cashless format followed a nationwide restaurant trend, and, as in other cities, drew criticism from some customers who objected to the business’s rejection of their legal tender.
Proponents of cashless policies argue that going cashless is more efficient, because it means that employees don’t have to spend time collecting, counting, recording, and depositing cash. It’s also more secure from theft. However, critics say the policies are inherently classist, because they discriminate against a portion of the community that is “unbanked.” These potential customers may be too young to have credit or a bank account, on a low or fixed income, homeless, undocumented, or victims of identity theft. By making a restaurant cashless, the business inherently excludes these individuals.
In April, Detroit News restaurant reporter Melody Baetens outlined the problems with going cashless in her column:
Restaurants may go out of their way to put local artwork on the walls to show support for the community. They serve paper straws and wooden forks instead of plastic to show they care about the environment. They have a diverse staff. Many bend over backwards with special menus for gluten-free or vegan diets.
But if you only have cash? The message they’re sending is “keep walking.”
The message seems to have resonated with at least one of the businesses highlighted in the piece. A representative for Mootz tells Eater in an email, “The reason for now accepting cash is ultimately to be more inclusive and provide options for all guests without putting up any barriers.”
In addition to the policy change, Mootz is also rolling out pizza delivery. Customers can place orders online from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday. A minimum order of $15 (excluding taxes and a $4 delivery fee) is required for delivery.
Whether Mootz’ decision to abandon the cashless format will spur a change at fellow downtown businesses remains to be seen. The pushback against these cashless policies by customers has been effective in causing companies such as salad chain Sweetgreen to reverse their policies. Some cities have also taken a more direct stance on the issue, such as Philadelphia where the cashless format was recently outlawed.
• Look Around Downtown Detroit’s New Pizzeria and Slice Shop [ED]
• All Mootz Pizzeria and Bar Coverage [ED]
• The Problem With Cashless Restaurants [E]
• Cashless Restaurants Are Easier on Owners, But Leave Some Customers Out [Detroit News]