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By Katherine Pendrill
Whether you’re upgrading your current system or purchasing your very first restaurant POS, it’s important to compare TouchBistro vs Squirrel POS.
Both TouchBistro and Squirrel are among the best restaurant POS systems on the market. But despite their popularity, the two systems are actually very different.
On the one hand, the Squirrel POS system has been around since the 1980s and is one of the oldest POS providers out there. Squirrel is often referred to as an on-site or legacy POS system because it’s original design consisted of POS hardware and software that had to be stored on-site in your restaurant. Though Squirrel’s current POS setup also includes cloud computing and mobile capabilities, the system retains many of its original elements.
On the other hand, TouchBistro is a much newer, modern POS system that was specifically designed to run on the cloud. Unlike many legacy POS systems, TouchBistro was designed with mobility, speed, and flexibility in mind, in order to make running a restaurant easier and more profitable.
While each POS has its own strengths and weaknesses, it can be tough to know whether TouchBistro or Squirrel POS is the right fit for your restaurant. So to help you parse through some of the finer details, we’ve conducted a head-to-head review of TouchBistro vs Squirrel Systems.
Based on current product information and detailed online reviews, our guide will cover:
This information is designed to help you not only choose between TouchBistro and Squirrel Systems, but also to help you understand if a legacy POS system or a modern POS system is best for your specific restaurant.
The information contained on this site is accurate as of the time of publication.
Compare the top legacy POS systems for restaurants on features, hardware, integrations, pricing, and more.
Before diving into a more detailed comparison of TouchBistro vs Squirrel, it’s important to understand the basic components of each system, including the POS setup, the operating system, the user experience, and more.
Perhaps the most important difference between TouchBistro and Squirrel is that TouchBistro is a modern restaurant POS system, while Squirrel is a legacy POS system that’s been updated to include cloud capabilities.
In 1984, Squirrel (formally known as Squirrel Systems) launched the first-ever touchscreen POS for the hospitality industry. This was a major milestone for the industry and set Squirrel apart as one of the leading legacy POS systems.
A legacy POS – sometimes referred to as an on-site POS – is made up of hardware and software installed on-site in the restaurant. With a legacy system, all the devices run on a local network so the POS terminals must be fixed in one place and the information cannot be accessed off-site. Because everything is located in the restaurant, technicians need to be brought in for any hardware fixes or software upgrades.
Though Squirrel originally started out as one of these legacy systems, it has come a long way in recent years. Squirrel now boasts a hybrid setup, with a locally installed connection and a cloud-based app. This means staff are now able to use mobile POS tablets that run on a WiFi connection, and you can access your POS data remotely at any time.
While Squirrel Systems has been in the POS space for decades, TouchBistro has a much more recent history. Founded in 2010, TouchBistro was specifically designed to replace the outdated legacy systems that came before it.
Unlike legacy systems, TouchBistro is a modern POS that stores your restaurant’s data in the cloud via remote servers. This means that instead of all your information being stored on-site in your restaurant, you can access your POS data from any device, at any time, as long as you have an Internet connection.
However, TouchBistro is a little different than some of the other modern POS systems on the market, because it is also equipped with a hardwired, local connection. This local connection can act as a backup if the Internet goes down in your venue, ensuring that you never have to worry about unstable WiFi bringing service to a standstill. With this kind of hybrid POS setup, you enjoy all the freedom, mobility, and speed of cloud computing, without the risk of any downtime.
Not only do TouchBistro and the Squirrel POS have slightly different setups, but they also use very different operating systems.
Like many of the other legacy POS systems on the market, Squirrel runs on a Windows or Linux operating system. Though many older, legacy POS systems run on Windows and Linux, neither system is common among newer, modern POS systems. That’s because each of these operating systems comes with a steeper learning curve that can be difficult to learn if you’re not already familiar with them. Windows systems are also more likely to be the target of malware and security breaches.
In contrast, TouchBistro runs exclusively on iOS. iOS is largely the operating system of choice for most modern POS systems because it’s a closed platform and less virus-prone than other operating systems. iOS is also the more common choice for today’s restaurant tech because Apple owns both the hardware (the iPad) and the software (iOS), which means you enjoy a seamless integration between POS software and Apple devices like iPads – a characteristic that keeps the user experience consistent across all Apple products.
As mentioned, ease of use is intimately tied to the type of operating system that each POS runs on.
Again, the Squirrel POS runs on a Windows or Linux operating system, so if you and your staff are already familiar with those systems, Squirrel will be fairly intuitive and easy to learn. However, if your staff is made up of people who are more familiar with Apple and Android devices, Squirrel will come with a steeper learning curve and the training process may be a little longer.
Of course, if your staff primarily use Apple devices, TouchBistro will be highly intuitive and easy to learn. As mentioned, there is a consistent user experience across all Apple devices so anyone who knows how to use an iPhone will easily be able to learn to use an iPad-based POS system like TouchBistro.
And even if your staff isn’t familiar with Apple products, TouchBistro is designed to be quick and easy to learn right out of the box. In fact, TouchBistro is essentially a plug-and-play POS system so restaurateurs and their staff can get up and running in no time. If you’re switching POS systems, this is a huge bonus because you can make the switch without the need to close your restaurant for a day or even an hour.
Despite their many differences, TouchBistro and Squirrel have a lot of overlap when it comes to regional availability.
Squirrel is a Canadian company with its headquarters in Burnaby, British Columbia, and a U.S. Depot location in Blaine, Washington. As a result, Squirrel primarily serves the Canada and U.S. markets.
TouchBistro is also a Canadian company, however its headquarters is located in Toronto, Ontario. Unlike Squirrel, TouchBistro has a bit more of a global presence and its primary markets include Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and the U.K. Additionally, TouchBistro has been used in more than 100 other countries around the world.
With a basic understanding of the differences between a legacy system like Squirrel and a modern POS system like TouchBistro, we can now dive into the good stuff: the features.
Both TouchBistro and the Squirrel POS system are equipped with the following core features:
Overall, TouchBistro and Squirrel are very comparable when it comes to their core features. Both restaurant POS systems are designed to handle a high volume of orders, and both are equipped with the kind of back-office functions that help restaurateurs better manage their operations.
Where the two systems differ slightly is when it comes to multi-location management features. Squirrel Systems is used by many hotels, entertainment spaces, casinos, and other hospitality venues, which means it offers some unique features such as multi-location menu management and the option to consolidate your reporting from all your restaurants in one place.
In contrast, TouchBistro is primarily designed for independent FSRs and QSRs, which means it lacks some of the corporate hospitality features that Squirrel offers. However, few restaurants actually need enterprise-level capabilities, meaning TouchBistro customers don’t end up paying for a bloated feature list of functions they won’t actually end up using.
TouchBistro and Squirrel POS run on different operating systems, which generally means that you need to purchase different hardware for each. However, it’s a little more complicated when it comes to the Squirrel POS system.
Because Squirrel is a legacy POS system that’s been augmented to include mobile devices, the system has some very unique hardware options.
If you’re looking for more of a traditional legacy system, you can purchase fixed POS terminals directly from Squirrel. There are several different fixed terminals to choose from, including options for both Windows and Linux. And while these terminals can’t be moved around your restaurant, each features a low profile design and flexible mounting, which is ideal for the restaurant environment.
However, if you want your staff to be able to move the POS terminals around your restaurant, Squirrel also offers some mobile tablet options like the Posiflex Tablet, which is built for both retail and hospitality use.
Squirrel also notes that you can choose to “bring your own device.” This means that you can run Squirrel’s software on Android, Apple, or Windows mobile devices. Though it’s uncommon for a POS provider to support such a wide range of hardware, this is a major plus for restaurateurs that might prefer to mix and match devices.
TouchBistro runs exclusively on iOS, which means the only devices you can use as POS terminals are iPads. For some restaurateurs, this limited choice of hardware may be a drawback, especially if they are looking for more traditional, fixed POS terminals.
But while it’s true that there are only so many iPads to choose from, the upside is that iPads are an all-around great choice for restaurants. They’re very easy to set up and configure, meaning you can begin using them almost immediately. Additionally, iPads are the POS terminal of choice for many different restaurant POS systems, which means you may be able to save money on new hardware if you are switching from one iPad-based POS system to another (as long as your devices are a compatible generation).
When it comes to core features, there’s a lot of overlap between TouchBistro and the Squirrel POS system. However, add-ons are a different story.
These days, most restaurants work with a payment processing partner to accept credit, debit, and digital payments in their venue. Since restaurants and payments go hand in hand, most POS providers will bundle the two and offer POS-integrated payment processing as an add-on solution. In some cases, the POS provider may also offer its own in-house payments solution.
Like many other legacy POS providers, Squirrel Systems does not offer its own in-house payment processing solution. This means that Squirrel customers have the freedom to choose from a list of integrated payment processing partners. This level of flexibility is a major plus for most restaurateurs because it means they can shop around, compare rates, and ultimately choose the best payment processing partner for their specific business model.
Like Squirrel, TouchBistro also gives customers the option to choose from a list of other integrated payment processing partners. Again, this means you have the flexibility to choose a payments processing partner that fits the needs of your business and your budget.
However, what really makes TouchBistro stand out is that it also offers its own in-house payments solution for customers in the U.S. called TouchBistro Payments powered by Chase. TouchBistro Payments is a great option for many restaurants because the fees are structured according to a cost plus pricing model.
With cost plus pricing, you pay a custom rate for each transaction, instead of a flat rate for all transactions. On the one hand, this means your credit card fees are a little less predictable because of the custom rate. However, the major benefit to cost plus pricing is that your rate generally ends up being more affordable than it would be with other pricing models, such as fixed rate pricing.
Beyond integrated payment processing, most restaurant POS providers offer other in-house add-ons that help restaurateurs extend the capabilities of their POS system.
Both TouchBistro and Squirrel Systems offer a few of the same add-on solutions, including gift cards, loyalty programs, and customer relationship management (CRM) software.
However, when you compare TouchBistro vs Squirrel directly, it’s clear that Squirrel has a lot of gaps when it comes to in-house add-ons. Unlike many of the other POS providers on the market, Squirrel does not have its own solutions for important functions such as online ordering, reservations, or kitchen display systems (KDS). Instead, the company leans heavily on its third-party partners like QSR Automations, which supplies reservations management and KDS integrations.
TouchBistro takes the opposite approach to add-ons, and relies more on in-house solutions than third-party integration partners. In fact, TouchBistro has in-house add-ons for everything from reservations and online ordering, to KDS and self-serve kiosks.
While third-party integrations may do the trick for some restaurants, in-house add-ons are generally considered the more preferable option. That’s because proprietary in-house solutions are specifically designed to sync directly with your POS system. This means there’s less risk of errors or data loss between the POS and the add-on solution. Not to mention, it’s much easier to get a hold of support for in-house solutions because there is just one number to call: your POS provider. With third-party integrations, getting a hold of support and fixing critical issues can be a more complicated and time-consuming process.
In addition to in-house add-ons, most POS providers also offer integrations with select third-party partners.
When you compare TouchBistro vs Squirrel head-to-head, you can see that both providers offer integrations for the following types of services:
As mentioned above, Squirrel leans heavily on trusted third-party partners like ADP for payroll, Punchh for loyalty, and maegan for online ordering. Additionally, Squirrel is the only Strategic Partner and Authorized Reseller for QSR Automations in North America, which means if you use the Squirrel POS, you can take advantage of QSR Automations’ industry-leading KDS and recipe software.
On the one hand, having a large number of POS integration partners to choose from can be beneficial for major restaurant and hospitality brands because it means more options for specialized solutions. However, the drawback to using third-parties is that these apps were not specifically created for your POS system and there is a higher risk of errors or data loss than if you use in-house solutions.
Unlike Squirrel, TouchBistro offers a smaller list of third-party integration partners. This is largely because TouchBistro already has its own in-house solutions for everything from reservations software to online ordering.
And for functions that TouchBistro doesn’t offer in-house solutions for, there is a curated list of best-in-class partners to choose from. This includes integrations with leading solutions such as MarketMan for advanced inventory management, 7Shifts for staff management, Avero for multi-unit reporting, and Push Operations for payroll.
Both TouchBistro and Squirrel have similar pricing structures.
Squirrel’s pricing starts at just under $60 per month for one device, and you pay an extra $20 per month for each additional device. This puts Squirrel’s pricing in line with that of most other POS providers.
TouchBistro’s plans start at $69 USD per month for one license, with the price per license decreasing for each additional license purchased. For this monthly fee, you enjoy all of TouchBistro’s core POS features, cloud-based reporting and analytics, unlimited users, free third-party integrations, and 24/7/365 support.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is a comparison of TouchBistro vs Squirrel POS on customer support.
Like most POS companies, Squirrel Systems offers 24/7 support to help restaurants at all hours of the day or night. To reach the company, you can call the dedicated support line, send an email, or use the Squirrel Systems Customer Portal for online help. According to publicly available Squirrel POS reviews, the support team is generally quick to respond and helpful in providing solutions.
TouchBistro also shines when it comes to customer support. TouchBistro offers award-winning 24/7 customer service and technical support, 365 days of the year. TouchBistro’s support team can be reached by phone or email, and is largely staffed by former restaurant industry professionals with first-hand experience using a POS system. For more minor issues, TouchBistro also has an extensive online resource library, complete with step-by-step guides and video tutorials that allow you to troubleshoot issues quickly.
Based on this review of TouchBistro vs Squirrel POS, it’s clear that both POS systems are top picks for restaurants in North America and abroad.
However, it’s also clear that each system has its own strengths and weaknesses. Squirrel Systems is especially strong when it comes to serving high volume operations in the restaurant and hospitality space. As a result, it’s no surprise that big names like Craft Beer Market, the Warehouse restaurant group, and Atlific Hotels use the Squirrel POS system.
But while Squirrel might be a good fit for big name restaurant and hospitality groups, the brand is less than ideal for independent restaurants. For the average restaurant, TouchBistro is the better all-around solution due to the following reasons:
Technology has become increasingly crucial to the restaurant industry in the past few years and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this trend. As a result, it’s important for restaurants to implement the most advanced technology in order to improve efficiency and make day-to-day operations easier.
Unlike a legacy system such as the Squirrel POS – which relies on outdated software and hardware that’s merely been tweaked over the years – TouchBistro is a modern POS system designed with the latest technology in mind. TouchBisto runs on an iOS operating system and uses Apple hardware, which is the leading industry standard when it comes to speed and efficiency. With a POS system like TouchBistro, you can trust that innovation is at the forefront and your restaurant will be well-positioned to navigate a rapidly changing industry.
No one POS system can do it all, which is why add-ons are so important. However, all add-on solutions are not created equal and you want to be able to trust that the product you’re using was designed to work seamlessly with your POS.
Instead of leaning on third-party integration partners to extend the capabilities of its POS as Squirrel does, TouchBistro has specifically created its own in-house add-on products. With add-ons like TouchBistro’s end-to-end reservation software or its commission-free restaurant online ordering system, you never have to worry about your data not syncing or paying hefty fees to third-party partners.
TouchBistro was originally founded with the goal of making it easier and more profitable to run a restaurant. The team behind TouchBistro is made up of many restaurant industry veterans, and this wealth of industry expertise is the reason that TouchBistro continues to develop new features and services that are intuitive enough for all restaurant staff to use – from servers and hosts, to managers and owners.
While Squirrel also supports restaurants, the company’s focus is on the hospitality industry as a whole, which means its customers also include hotels, resorts, and casinos. As a result, many of Squirrel’s features are built for enterprise-level clients, with less research and development dedicated to the needs of smaller, independent restaurants and the staff who work in these kinds of venues.
Only you know what your restaurant really needs, which is why it’s up to you to decide which restaurant POS system is the right fit for your business. Whether you’ve decided a legacy system is what you need or you’re looking to upgrade to a modern POS, hopefully, this review of TouchBistro vs Squirrel POS has provided you with the information you need.
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.
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