Señor Sisig Food Truck Goes Cashless

Is this the future?

I walked by the Señor Sisig food truck parked at Powell and Ellis today and was startled to see a sandwich board stating, in very large type, “No Cash Payments Accepted.” Similar signs were plastered on the sides of the truck.

This doesn’t make much sense to me. The truck is in a location with such high pedestrian activity and law enforcement presence that fear of robbery seems unlikely to be the motivation. The only reason, according to the big sign, is to “focus more on the overall guest experience.” What does this mean? To free “guests” from the experience of waiting in line with grubby cash-dependent street people?

No only are there people in the area who have to panhandle to scrabble together the $4.60 [sic] for a sisig taco, but also hordes of tourists who may not be packing Apple Pay or Android Pay and don’t want to go through the hassle of having SS vet a foreign credit card just to grab a bite.

I for one am not going to pull out my phone, unlock it, and fire up Android Pay, or dig out a credit card to have them run through a scanner when I can just pull out a fiver from my wallet to pay for my taco. That, to me, is the best taco truck “guest” experience.

I wonder if they accept Bitcoin.

They give some of their reasons in their Instagram:

There are numerous reason why we decided to become cashless but some of the main reasons are:

1). to eliminate the countless hours of operation we spend handling cash, while our sales data shows that less than 20% of our sales are cash and that number continues to decrease 5-10% annually.
2). It eliminates the liability and reduce the safety risk of theft/robberies and provides a safer work environment for our employees.
3). We felt like we were running a mini bank on the back end of the business and saw this as a opportunity to reclaim valuable time to focus more on our overall guest experience.

Anybody who thinks electronic payments are faster at the customer end than cash payments has never been in a supermarket checkout line. The problem is that the iClones in the ordering line will use an app to do something just because they can, even if there’s a faster way.

My suspicion is that Senor Sissig is doing it to slow down the ordering process because the cooks and servers can’t keep up with the orders. People are more tolerant of waiting in line to order (some even relish it) than they are of waiting around for their food to be delivered after they’ve paid for it.

Friends of mine own a restaurant (Picnic on Third) who have been cashless for a few years now. It’s just a lot easier for the business. Even if no one ever robs them, there is the possible problem of employee theft, or simply making a transaction error and having a short till, and so on. Even if none of that happens, there are the inconveniences with shift-changes that require swapping of tills, all that counting of money at the beginning and end of the shift, dropping off the money at a bank, and so on. With the credit card, all the money collection and bean counting is taken care of by a computer, and none of those worries exist.

Although I concede that it takes longer to process a credit card than cash, we are only talking about seconds per transaction, not minutes. With Square, the customer, inserts the card, signs, presses a few buttons, and it’s done. If they truly have fewer than 20% cash transactions (from my own anecdata, it does seem like Millennials aren’t big on carrying cash), then the time difference will be insignificant compared to the time spent waiting for the meal. I also concede that this may discourage some patrons from eating there, but Senor Sisig usually seems to have a long line anyway, so I’m guessing they’ll fare just fine.

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Even if all those reasons are valid (and mind you, credit card validation often stalls, for one reason or another), they are for the improvement of the experience of the vendor, not the “guest’”. Taking away choice from the consumer puts them in “let them eat cake” stance.

If Senor Sisig wants to be truly cashless, why do they still have a tip jar?


I mean, yes, that’s true (although I think saying credit cards “often” stall is overstating it quite a bit – of the thousands of credit card swipes I’ve made in my lifetime, this has happened to me perhaps a dozen times over the span of several decades), but I don’t think Senor Sisig is truly claiming that they’re doing this as a convenience to the consumer. It’s clear from the Instagram comments that people don’t like it. Yes, I suppose it’s a “let them eat cake” stance, but again, I suspect their business will survive just fine.

As for the tip jar, it has no impact on any of the issues mentioned above. They’re not counting it at the end of the night, they’re not depositing in the bank, and so on.

A while ago I saw someone pay for something with their phone–at a yard sale. This is the future, I guess.

The SS sandwich board states that the transition was so they could “focus more on the overall guest experience.”

My point about the tip jar was that it is an insult to customers to expect them to have cash for the tip jar but not be able to pay for their taco with cash.


I like cash and use cash often. Though cashless is just a matter of time. Not the kind of slow and clumsy cashless we have here though.

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Cashless is really gaining traction in the UK. Just holding your conactless bank card (they’re all contactless these days) up to a reader is really easy, and certainly less hassle than using cash. 95% of all outlets accept contactless. We’re restricted to £30 ($40) per transaction before a PIN is required, but that’s fine for very many purchases. I also use Android Pay, which works in exactly the same way, also giving an instant snapshot of the day’s outgoings. It doesn’t need “firing up”, it’s active the moment I’ve unlocked my phone. The £60 in my wallet has been untouched for several days.

Everywhere (except, wrongly IMO, the London busses & subway) also takes cash, though, as contactless can be an issue for a small % of people.

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Outside of Beijing, I never saw anyone besides myself use cash for subway fares in China. It was all QR codes.

Last month on a trip to NYC, I was surprised to see that the Staten Island toll is now cashless. If you don’t have EZPass, they mail you a bill. That didn’t sit well with me, but I’m sure commuters driving through there every day have a different perspective.

Interesting. No QR codes for payments in the UK. Just present your card (or phone) to the reader and, beep, you’ve paid.

Bay Area bridges are like that, too.

The Staten Island ferry is not only cashless, it’s free. I can support that form of cashlessness.

Having the option of a cashless payment is one thing. Not having the option for a cash payment is class-based discrimination.


They probably meant the Verrazano bridge toll, which per Wiki is now cashless ($17.00 for non-NY residents and non-EZ Pass users, $11.52 for residents)

No contactless bank cards here in the US (which would make a difference), only cards which must be physically swiped or inserted.

You don’t need to fire up Android Pay if it’s running in the background and NFC is on, both of which contribute to battery drain, but you still need to wake up your phone and unlock the screen. Very few places here accept that form of pay here, so I usually do not have Android Pay active.

Senor Sisig is free to target whatever consumer population they want to - if they find that the majority of their customers are cashless, it seems reasonable, if not imperative to make that make it easier for those customers - and as a part of that demographic, I find cashless easier, faster, and more secure. If eliminating the time spent on handling cash (counting, deposits, etc.) allows them more time to make sure orders are cooked properly, served hot, and to improve the checkout process (spend money on wiring the card reader on the outside of the truck for example), then power to them. I also appreciate that the order-taker doesn’t have to continuously take off gloves to handle cash and then put gloves back on to handle/serve food and vice versa - this would seem to reduce waste in the form of disposable food service gloves and increased hygiene.

I would wager that any fast food chain store would do the same if they found that their local demographic heavily favored cashless payment (and I would wager that many have or are consistently reviewing the data on this). Is this any different than a store refusing to take denominations larger than $20 because of not wanting to be drained of loose bills/change in the till? Is that class discrimination? What about not accepting pennies as payment because it’s a PITA to count (imagine a young child saving up all those pennies in a piggy bank). Is that also class discrimination?

I also don’t believe that cash is generally in a consumer’s best interest today. I much prefer to use non-cash payment forms because it guarantees that I have a record of what I spent, where I spent it, and so on. Easier to understand my spending, easier to dispute without having to keep receipts:

Is the move completely altruistic? No. Does it have to be? No, it’s a business, they’re in it for the money. Have they misrepresented the change? No.


I’m always surprised when people ask me if I take cash. I thought you had to - if not, what does ‘this note is legal tender for all debts public and private’ mean? Or does this fall under reserving the right to refuse service?

At food festivals and holiday bazaars, the wifi can get bogged down or sometimes reception is just lousy and cards take a minute. Square is great overall but not always the fastest. I’ve had a contactless/chip card reader for at least a year and only a handful of people have paid with their phone. And even rarer, a senior citizen with a checkbook! But usually, about 60/40 credit/cash.

Senor Sisig has a revocable franchise to sell food for profit on a public thoroughfare. What they are practicing is a form of class-based discrimination. I believe the City should make it a condition of their franchise that they accept cash which, as @Babette pointed out, is “legal tender for all debts public and private.”

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More on the pros and cons of cashless transactions. It notes that the State of Massachusetts has banned cashless retail transactions.

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