The Ultimate Guide to the Best Legacy POS Systems for Restaurants
If you’re shopping for a new POS system, one of the first decisions you need to make is choosing between a legacy POS system and a cloud POS system.
Legacy POS systems, also known as traditional POS systems, store your data on-site on local servers and run on a closed internal network. On the other hand, cloud-based POS systems are web-hosted solutions that store your data in the cloud via remote servers.
With all the benefits that cloud POS systems offer, many legacy POS providers have augmented their systems with cloud capabilities and debunked the cloud misconceptions surrounding cloud-based POS systems. As a result, it can be complicated to evaluate these legacy POS systems and determine which ones are truly set up for modern restaurant management.
To help you cut through the noise and make shopping for a new POS a little less painful, we’ve put together a contemporary guide to the best legacy POS systems for restaurants. With in-depth restaurant POS system reviews of all the top legacy providers, this guide will help you narrow down the best restaurant POS for your specific business. This guide also includes a review of one of the top modern POS systems, TouchBistro, so you can see how a cloud-first system compares.
In each review, you’ll find:
A basic overview of each of the top legacy POS systems for restaurants and one modern POS system
Each system’s strengths and weaknesses
Your payment processing options
Software pricing and other fees
The ideal restaurant for each POS system
We know that no restaurant POS system is a one-size-fits-all solution, which is why we’ve covered multiple different legacy POS systems, and one modern solution. We hope that with this guide to the best legacy POS systems, you’ll find the answers you need to choose a new POS system for your restaurant.
The Aloha POS has been around for quite some time and originally established a reputation as one of the top legacy POS systems. In 2011, Aloha’s parent company Radiant Systems was acquired by NCR Corporation, previously known as National Cash Register. Since that time, NCR has made an effort to modernize the Aloha POS to compete with newer cloud-based POS solutions. Today, NCR Aloha is a popular option for major enterprise restaurant chains such as Firehouse Subs, Chipotle, and Starbucks.
Some of the strengths of the Aloha POS system include:
The Aloha POS was designed for enterprise, which means that Aloha’s core features come with all the bells and whistles you could possibly want from a restaurant POS, and can even be customized to fit your exact needs.
Aloha is used in more than 180 countries around the world, which is a major plus for any global restaurant brand that is looking to roll out one POS system across all of its international locations.
Some of the drawbacks of the Aloha POS system include:
Aloha’s hardware and monthly software fees are more expensive than many of its competitors because the system is designed for enterprise and not for the average independent restaurant.
Most of Aloha’s hardware runs on Windows and Android operating systems, which come with steep learning curves – factors that may make the training process difficult and more time-consuming.
Though most modern POS companies offer 24/7 support, Aloha’s Help Desk is only available to contact from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Central Time.
NCR, Aloha’s parent company, is a leader in banking and ecommerce and offers its own integrated payment processing solution for the Aloha POS called NCR Merchant Solutions. NCR Merchant Solutions is an end-to-end payments processor with the ability to process everything from mobile payments to card-not-present transactions, making it a good payments option for restaurants.
However, NCR is not very transparent when it comes to its actual payment processing fees. Though the company does promise competitive fees, you need to contact NCR directly if you want to know what you’ll actually be paying for payment processing each month. Ultimately, this means you’ll have to jump through a few extra hoops to get a reasonable idea of what payment processing fees will look like at each of your venues.
Unfortunately, there is also a lack of transparency when it comes to pricing for NCR Aloha’s software and hardware. NCR does not make any pricing information available publicly on its website, which means you must contact the company in order to get a quote for the Aloha POS system. The idea behind this model is that without fixed pricing packages, NCR can provide each restaurant with a custom rate for its specific POS setup. However, even with a custom rate, keep in mind that the Aloha POS is designed for enterprise and you should expect it to come with a price tag to match.
The Best POS For: Global QSRs and FSRs Brands
The Aloha POS is one of the most feature-rich systems on the market, making it an excellent option for enterprise restaurant chains and franchises like Starbucks and Chipotle. The POS system is especially valuable for restaurant brands with a global footprint, as NCR provides customer and technical support on an international scale.
Of course, like any enterprise system, the Aloha POS does not come cheap. Though Aloha is quite secretive about its pricing, it’s widely known to be one of the most expensive POS systems on the market. And when you factor in the added cost of maintaining Aloha’s proprietary hardware, cost can quickly become a deal-breaker for most restaurants, especially smaller multi-location businesses.
Silverware is a Canadian POS company that was founded back in 1992. Originally a legacy POS system, Silverware has since added cloud capabilities to its Windows and Android-based system, including an iOS app. Beyond restaurants, Silverware POS is also a popular choice for hotels and other hospitality businesses.
Strengths of the Silverware POS system include:
Silverware’s core POS features are very robust and come with a lot of bells and whistles that other POS providers lack. For instance, large entertainment venues and bars can take advantage of a dedicated bar service feature that allows staff to start a tab simply by swiping a customers’ credit card or driver’s license.
Silverware offers both on-premise and cloud-hosted deployment, so customers have the option to use Windows, Android (powered by Linux), or Apple devices. This means operators have a lot of choice when it comes to finding the right hardware fit for their specific business needs.
Weaknesses of the Silverware POS system include:
While most modern POS systems offer advanced reporting and analytics, Silverware’s reports are still limited to basic Excel-based files.
Unlike other POS providers that include integrations at no extra cost, Silverware charges monthly per integration fees for every individual API – fees that can quickly add up if you use a lot of third-party integrations.
Silverware’s legacy POS system was originally developed back in the 1990s and its technology still lags behind some of the newer systems on the market.
Silverware is a bit unique in that it does not offer an in-house, integrated payment processing solution. On the one hand, this kind of flexibility can be beneficial for some restaurateurs because it allows them to choose a payment processor that best fits their needs.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you choose to use an unintegrated payments solution, you’ll have to carry out all credit card transactions separately and enter the amounts from each transaction manually into your Silverware POS system. This can be a problem because manually entering each transaction is both time-consuming and carries a high risk of error.
When it comes to pricing, SIlverware’s software fees start at $49 per month, and are mostly in line with that of other restaurant POS providers. However, it’s worth noting that Silverware’s most basic package lacks many important features, such as real-time cloud reporting, real-time cloud backup, and real-time system failover.
It’s also important to remember that while Silverware’s prices may seem reasonable, there are some additional fees associated with this legacy POS system. For instance, you may need to invest in proprietary hardware to run Silverware’s Windows or Android operating system. You also need to factor in the cost of every third-party integration you plan to use with your Silverware POS.
The Best POS For: Enterprise Hospitality Businesses
At the end of the day, there’s no question that SIlverware is a robust POS system with features that have been designed to handle the complex demands of larger venues. Silverware POS is particularly well suited to enterprise hospitality businesses such as hotels and resorts.
While Silverware’s features may have all the bells and whistles, the actual technology still lags behind that of many modern POS systems. For restaurants that need to be quick, agile, and flexible, Silverware’s older and sometimes glitchy software may be a hindrance to growth.
The MICROS POS (formally known as the Oracle MICROS Simphony POS system), was originally founded back in the 1970s as a high-tech alternative to the cash register. MICROS was eventually purchased by Oracle Corporation, which has augmented the older legacy POS system with cloud capabilities. The MICROS POS is now a popular choice for well established, global restaurant chains like Outback Steakhouse, Quiznos, and McDonald’s, as well as other venue types such as stadiums, hotels, airports, cruise ships, and more
Strengths of the MICROS POS system include:
Because MICROS was designed for enterprise, the POS system’s core features are extremely robust and go a bit beyond what you would get with other restaurant POS systems.
MICROS supports integrations with more than 85 different third-party partners, including many regionally-specific partners that allow you to carry out niche functions in different international markets.
Drawbacks of the MICROS POS system include:
The MICROS POS is not designed exclusively for restaurants and is actually used by many stadiums, arenas, airports, train stations, cruise ships, and casinos. The majority of restaurants don’t actually need a POS system that’s also equipped with niche stadium and casino capabilities, and this extensive feature set can actually make the system quite overwhelming and difficult to navigate on a day-to-day basis.
MICROS isn’t very transparent with its pricing and its monthly software fees are generally on the high end because the system is specifically designed for enterprise restaurant brands.
MICROS is modeled on the old, hardwired POS systems that were common in the 1990s and early 2000s, and though Oracle has given its POS system a major update to compete with newer, cloud-based solutions, many operators will still find the MICROS POS interface and user experience to be outdated.
In the past, MICROS has worked with the payment processor Heartland Payment Systems to create an easy integration between credit card processing and the MICROS POS. However, MICROS doesn’t currently require the use of any one particular processor, meaning customers have the freedom to choose from a wide variety of integrated payment processing partners.
Oracle is not very transparent when it comes to its pricing and requires anyone interested in the system to call in to receive a custom quote. The problem with this process is that restaurateurs have no baseline to decide whether MICROS will be in their price range in the first place. This means that many will call in only to find out that the POS system is way out of their budget. And for busy restaurateurs, time is money.
Even if the MICROS POS does fit your budget, it’s worth considering the added expenses that might appear down the line. Both the MICROS POS software and hardware are based on older technology, which requires a lot of costly maintenance. Not to mention, you also have to account for the costs associated with software updates, support, and hosting.
The Best POS For: Global Hospitality Brands
Overall, it’s clear that the MICROS POS is best for well established, global restaurant chains with hundreds, if not thousands, of locations around the world. The legacy POS system is equipped with extensive features, add-ons, and integrations designed to support and manage multiple locations. Not to mention, the system also supports multiple languages and currencies, which is something that’s essential to any global enterprise.
Of course, most restaurant operations don’t actually need a system this powerful. Most single and multi-location operators will find that MICROS’ robust features are more than they need to run their operation, and the price tag may be too high for features they won’t actually end up using. Not to mention, the time and expense of maintaining a system this comprehensive is an added burden for most restaurateurs
Wondering how the Oracle MICROS Simphony POS compares to TouchBistro?
Squirrel, formally known as Squirrel Systems, is a Canadian POS company that launched the first-ever touchscreen POS for the hospitality industry in 1984. Since then, the company has augmented its legacy POS system with cloud capabilities, and has developed a reputation as a trusted solution for many hospitality brands and hotel restaurants.
Strengths of the Squirrel Systems POS include:
Squirrel offers a broad range of hardware options and even allows you to “bring your own device.”
Based on publicly available reviews, Squirrel’s 24/7 support team is often praised for being quick to respond and helpful in providing solutions.
Drawbacks of the Squirrel POS include:
Squirrel still runs on Windows and Linux, which means it lags behind some of the newer POS systems in terms of its technology.
Unlike many of the other POS providers on the market, Squirrel does not have its own in-house solutions for important functions such as reservations or kitchen display systems.
Primarily designed for major hospitality brands like hotels and casinos, rather than indepdendent restaurants.
Like many other legacy POS providers, Squirrel Systems does not offer its own in-house payment processing solution. This means that Squirrel customers need to find their own payment processing solution. While this creates extra work for operators, it does also provide a bit of flexibility to shop around.
Squirrel’s pricing is based on how many POS terminals you need, which means the bigger your venue, the higher your monthly software fees. This pricing structure is designed to accommodate venues of various sizes, however, it’s worth noting that Squirrel Systems is primarily used by major restaurant groups and hospitality brands that generally require a multi-terminal setup. It’s also important to consider that you may be shelling out a lot of money up front for proprietary hardware (if you go that route).
The Best POS For: Hospitality Brands and Hotel Restaurants
With a robust set of core features and a wide variety of third-party integration partners, Squirrel is a great fit for hospitality brands and hotel restaurants. As a result, it’s no surprise that big names like Atlific Hotels use the Squirrel POS system.
But while Squirrel’s core POS may be strong, the system is lacking when it comes to in-house add-ons like reservations, loyalty, marketing, and more. For many growing restaurants, in-house add-ons are preferable to third-party solutions because they help to extend the capabilities of the core POS without the risk of errors or hefty third-party fees. And with Squirrel’s software fees already on the high end, most independent restaurants won’t have the budget to pay for extra third-party solutions.
Wondering how Squirrel Systems compares to TouchBistro?
A legacy POS system isn’t the right fit for every restaurant. To help you compare the legacy providers in this guide to a modern solution, we’ve included a review of one of the top modern restaurant POS systems, TouchBistro.
TouchBistro is a cloud-first, all-in-one POS and restaurant management system that enables operators to delight their guests, maximize profitability, and grow their businesses. Designed exclusively with restaurants in mind, TouchBistro provides the most essential front of house, back of house, and guest engagement solutions on one easy-to-use platform.
Unlike many legacy POS providers, TouchBistro was designed with cloud capabilities at the forefront and was the first company to launch an iPad-based restaurant POS. TouchBistro has now been a leader in the restaurant technology space for more than a decade and has become the POS of choice for thousands of single and multi-location restaurants. TouchBistro has even been featured as Gordon Ramsay’s dedicated POS system on the hit show Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back.
Strengths of the TouchBistro POS system include:
TouchBistro boasts a unique hybrid cloud-based POS architecture, which means you enjoy all the convenience and remote capabilities of any other cloud POS, but there is also a hardwired, local connection that acts as a backup when the internet goes down.
TouchBistro’s core features and add-on solutions have been specially crafted to meet the unique demands of running a restaurant, such as taking orders tableside, processing online orders, and menu engineering.
TouchBistro also offers an in-house restaurant reservations management system, which is something very few other restaurant POS providers have.
TouchBistro was built exclusively for restaurateurs by restaurant industry veterans. Consequently, the platform features a sleek, yet simple interface that is incredibly easy to use, which ultimately sets TouchBistro apart from many of its older, legacy POS peers.
While TouchBistro is well equipped for growing multi-location businesses, national or international chains may find TouchBistro somewhat limiting due to its limited enterprise functionalities.
Unlike some legacy POS providers that offer integrations with dozens of different partners, TouchBistro supports integrations for a more curated list of partners, which may be a challenge for some major restaurant brands with very specific needs.
Perhaps the biggest difference between TouchBistro and many of the best legacy POS providers is that TouchBistro offers its own in-house, integrated payment processing solution. This means you enjoy a fully integrated payment processing solution for your restaurant, backed by best-in-class payment processing technology, advanced security, and the support of dedicated payments experts.
The biggest benefit of TouchBistro Payments is the direct integration with the POS – something many legacy POS providers are unable to offer. Thanks to this integrated workflow, the TouchBistro POS speaks directly to the payment terminals, allowing for a seamless flow of data and eliminating the need for manual entry. This direct integration reduces the risk of order errors (and subsequent chargebacks), while also ensuring a quick and easy payment process for customers.
Not only are TouchBistro’s payment processing fees competitive, but so are its monthly software fees. TouchBistro’s software starts at $69 USD per month for a single license and with each package, you get all of TouchBistro’s core POS features, cloud-based reporting and analytics, 24/7/365 support, and unlimited users and logins for your staff and management.
Like other POS systems, you’ll also have to factor in additional costs to use TouchBistro such as installation, hardware, and payment processing fees (if you’re using integrated payments). Because TouchBistro is a restaurant iPad POS system, you may be able to save on some hardware costs by reusing your current iPad tablets (as long as it’s a compatible generation).
The Best POS For: Single and Multi-Location Restaurants
With all the POS features you need to run a restaurant, TouchBistro is a great all-around solution for restaurants big and small. And with in-house technology like loyalty, online ordering, back office management, integrated reservations, and more, TouchBistro is one of the best restaurant POS systems for both QSRs and FSRs.
Though TouchBistro can easily support larger restaurants, it’s not equipped with the kind of enterprise capabilities required to support nation-wide, multi-unit chains. For restaurants with these kinds of complex needs, a more bespoke legacy POS solution with multi-unit reporting capabilities would be a better fit.
It goes without saying that no legacy POS system – or modern POS system for that matter – is a one-size-fits-all-solution. Our ultimate guide to the best legacy POS systems is designed to highlight the pros and cons of each system so you can find a provider that offers the features, tools, and services you need to run a successful restaurant. Armed with this information, you’ll be better equipped to choose the best restaurant POS system for your particular venue.
Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.