Until now, I've dealt in rational arguments, because rational arguments are important. But the very strongest case against cash-only chicanery is the simplest one: it annoys the ever-living bejesus out of me. No amount of logical artifice can convince me otherwise. Cash-only restaurants are an infuriating inconvenience to the customer. They say, "Hey, customer! **** you!", then laugh coyly at your chagrin. They don't just want you to give them cash, they want you to want to give them cash. Cash-only restaurants are the needy girlfriend of the restaurant industry, and like the undateable slob that I am, I can't quite shove off.
The reason I can't quit is because cash-only restaurants continue to spring up like weeds in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods from coast to coast. More often than not, they earn an outsize portion of cachet and buzz compared to their peers, because they are "trendy," "off-the-beaten path," and "made out of barnwood that has been claimed, then claimed again." Like self-important landmines, cash-only restaurants lurk amongst a city's card-accepting majority, waiting silently for you to step on them so they can condescendingly tell you where the nearest ATM is, and while they're at it, to go screw yourself, pal.
This brings us back to your original question, my dear bumpkin: who the hell is eating at these places?
We are. We city folk. We go to cash-only restaurants all the time, for one of two reasons. Either we didn’t know it was cash-only, and are now furious about this fact for all the reasons examined above; or we did know it was cash-only, and we chose it anyway because it made us feel bohemian, in-the-know, and capital-C Cool. “There is the cachet that comes with playing hard to get,” Spartos muses in the Post. She goes on to quote Bret Thorn, food editor of Nation’s Restaurant News: “You’re saying, ‘I’m so great, you have to come to the restaurant on my terms’ -- and some people like that.”
We call those people capital-D Douchebags. In their never-ending quest to equate exclusive experience with self-esteem, they inject just enough life into cash-only restaurants' perceived stature to allow the backwards institution to march forward proudly. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't die. It should. Soon.
Dave Infante is a senior writer for Thrillist Food & Drink, and generally tips in cash. Follow @dinfontay on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.