In a world that’s driving full speed ahead in the direction of digital, it’s no shock to hear that restaurants are leaning more toward e-wallets, rather than traditional leather ones.
Among the local spots embracing the trend is The Land of Kush near Mt. Vernon, which was recently deemed one of the 50 winners of a nationwide contest organized by Visa. The competition encouraged small business owners to turn to a 100 percent cashless payment alternative, and awarded all of the winners with a $10,000 prize to strengthen their businesses.
“We’re still exploring that option, how it will work, and if it’s the best thing for our customers,” said Greg Brown, owner of The Land of Kush. “There’s a percentage of folks who don’t have banks, access to bank accounts, or debit cards, so we have to look at how that would impact our customers who have no other option but to pay cash,” added his wife, co-owner Naijha Wright-Brown.
As part of the contest, the Browns submitted a 60-second video explaining how their restaurant would benefit if it was totally cash-free. They entered the contest on the day of the deadline, and found out they were the only winners in Maryland. Although they acknowledge some limitations with the system, they believe it’s advantageous overall.
“I just think that everything is digital,” Brown said. “It’s more efficient, and people don’t have to fumble around looking for cash in their pockets,” Wright-Brown added.
Some of their main concerns as business owners include theft and robbery by both employees and outsiders. Because of this, they feel that the cashless approach will act as a safeguard to their restaurant and customers alike.
Additionally, consumer loyalty programs depend on POS—point of sale—systems to track purchase patterns, which is only accessible through the use of credit card and digital pay. Going cash-free would give more diners specialized incentives and rewards, which would save them money in the long run.
“We’re moving to a cashless society,” Brown said. “You can see that in the trends, you constantly see updates in the way people do businesses. Technology is changing, and you have to be on the cutting edge of it.”
The plan to use the prize money to renovate their second location in East Baltimore—which is housed in an old Chinese carry-out restaurant. It’s slated to seat almost triple the number of people compared to their Mt. Vernon location, and just like the original, it will act as food resource and education hub for the local community.
“I was just the right timing, the energy was there, and I just had a really good feeling about it,” Wright-Brown said. “I was surprised, but then I was like, ‘We deserve this, we work hard, we give back to the community, so it’s only right that this is how we’re rewarded.’”