Cashless Part Two

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An interesting follow up to my last entry on the dangers of going cashless: A few days ago, I went to a Sweetgreen, the fast-food salad place. As I took out cash to pay for my order, I was informed that my cash was no good, credit cards only. I had totally forgotten that Sweetgreen was on the list of cashless offenders! Too late to turn back, my delicious salad  already in hand, I reluctantly handed over my credit card. What the hell, I was starving! But I made a note to myself to write the management later.

Here’s how that went:

Dear Sweetgreen,
I just had a delicious meal at one of your establishments in NYC and would love to keep patronizing you. But I won’t unless you change your cashless policy. Which I hope you do. My thoughts are better expressed in the blog post I wrote that I include here.

Hello Peter,

Thank you for your thoughts on a cashless Sweetgreen. I am passing your message directly to our Operations team leading this program. We are really open and eager to listen to feedback from guests like yourself. We will be taking guest comments into great consideration as we reflect on the impact of this change and the best way we can support you moving forward. In the meantime, I would love to tell you a little bit about why we decided to go cashless.

Here at Sweetgreen, we operate on five core values, three of which speak directly to this initiative: win, win, win, think sustainably and make an impact. We want to create solutions where the company wins, the customer wins, and the community wins. Having a cashless store improves the guest experience by increasing the speed of service for our guests and promoting sanitation through the removal of cash handling. Cashless payments are more sustainable, saving over 100k driving miles (and gas) per year by armored trucks and 500lbs of paper. Removing cash processing from our stores also frees up hours for managers to spend coaching team members and interacting with guests. Moreover, employees are all the more safer without cash present in the store.

Thanks again for reaching out to us and sharing your feedback. We look forward to continuing the conversation with you.




Hi Jennifer,

I think those are all valid and understandable reasons for going cashless. And yet I still firmly believe the dangers outweigh the positives in ways that transcend practical considerations. Perhaps when there are cashless methods that don’t involve data tracking I will come around. But as things are currently constituted, I will not continue to patronize Sweetgreen (as much as I love the food), and I will encourage others to follow suit. I really hope that at the corporate level you concede that profitability shouldn’t be the only consideration—especially for a company that I believe wants to be thought of as socially conscious.





Hi Peter,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback. We really appreciate you reaching out to us with your feedback and ideas. As a young and continuously growing company, we love to hear what our customers have to say and we take every suggestion and criticism very seriously. While we went cashless a couple years go for a few key reasons, we’re now working on getting cash back into all locations by the end of the year. Your feedback is the key ingredient so i’m passing this message to the right people on our team for review.



I don’t know if Sweetgreen will actually follow through, but the mere fact of this dialogue is encouraging to me. We can have an impact!

By Peter Alson

Peter Alson is a writer and editor. Among his published books are the memoirs Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie and Take Me to the River. He's also co-authored (with Nolan Dalla) One of a Kind, a biography of poker champion Stuey Ungar, and Atlas, the autobiography of boxing trainer and commentator Teddy Atlas. His articles have appeared in many national magazines, including Esquire, Playboy and The New York Times. He has worked as a writer for People magazine, and as an editor for Playboy and for Hachette Publications. He has written screenplays for Paramount and various independent producers, and his TV pilot, Nicky’s Game, starring John Ventimiglia and Burt Young, appeared in the New York Television Festival and the Vail Film Festival. As a poker player he has finished in the money numerous times in the World Series of Poker and other events. He lives in New York with his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Eden.

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